Rory McIlroy Ireland’s sole survivor at Scottish Open

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Rory McIlroy is only Irish player to survive the cut at the Scottish Open.

The world number 3 carded a second consecutive 67 to reach the midway point in 8-under par.

McIlroy is six-shots adrift of the leading trio of Lee Slattery, Erik van Rooyen and Bernd Wiesberger as the glut of low scoring saw the cut fall at five-under-par and result in early exits for McIlroy’s playing partners Rickie Fowler and Robert MacIntyre.

Paul Dunne missed out by a single stroke, finishing on 4-under after a 68, while Padraig Harrington was 3 under and Graeme McDowell’s disappointing form continued as he ended the day on level par.

Henrik Stenson carded a second consecutive 65 at The Renaissance Club for a halfway total of 12 under par, two shots behind the leaders.

Rory McIlroy Ireland's sole survivor at Scottish Open

Former world number one Justin Thomas is a shot further back following a 64.

McIlroy felt a welcome sense of familiarity when he visited Royal Portrush at the weekend, but that will only extend so far when the final major of the year gets under way next week.

McIlroy has a storied history at Portrush which includes meeting Darren Clarke for the first time there on his 10th birthday and setting the course record six years later with a stunning 61 in the North of Ireland Championship.

The four-time major winner never thought he would play a major on home soil in his lifetime but as the Open Championship prepares to return to the Dunluce Links for the first time since 1951, McIlroy will be trying to treat the week like any other.

That includes keeping distractions to a minimum and staying in rented accommodation, even though he was born just over 60 miles away on the outskirts of Belfast, where his parents still live.

“I actually don’t like staying at home. There’s something about it that just doesn’t feel right,” McIlroy said after today’s second round.

“One of the reasons I don’t play the Honda Classic any more is that being in your own bed playing in a tournament just doesn’t feel right to me. It is very separate.

“When I’m at home, I’m at home. When I’m on tour, I’m on tour. So I’ll be staying up there (in Portrush) next week.”

More than 200,000 spectators are due to descend on Portrush next week and McIlroy will do his best to block out the distractions and ignore the hype surrounding only the second Open to be staged outside England and Scotland.

“I have my phone on ‘do not disturb’ about 18 hours of the day, but that’s normal for me. Not just next week but life in general,” the 30-year-old added.

“I try not to concern myself with anything that is not really my business. I try to do what I need to do and live my own life. Life is complicated enough without all the other stuff.

“Honestly, I have not thought much or talked much to people about next week. This is the first of a three-week run for me.

“I’m playing here, The Open and Memphis and I’m just trying to play good golf in those three weeks.”

McIlroy lifted the Claret Jug at Hoylake in 2014 and – after missing the defence of his title at St Andrews due to an ankle injury suffered while playing football – has finished fifth at Royal Troon, fourth at Royal Birkdale and second at Carnoustie.

Asked what will be key at Portrush, McIlroy added: “I think driving the golf ball.

“The rough is going to be more penal next week than it is here. You’ve also got a lot of these fern bushes that grow in the rough and if you get into those, it is just a hack out.

“There’s a lot of holes where you can’t be aggressive.

“Carnoustie last year, with how firm it was and the rough was really wispy, my game plan was just hit driver everywhere, get up and find it and go from there and it worked pretty well.

“But you can’t do that at Portrush. Mid-iron play and finding fairways is going to be key next week.”

– Press Association

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