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Rory McIlroy still firmly in US Open contention despite second-round struggles

Rory McIlroy veered from the ridiculous to the sublime to remain firmly in contention for a first major title since 2014 in the US Open at Pinehurst.

McIlroy added a second round of 72 to his opening 65 to lie a shot off the early clubhouse lead as playing partner Scottie Scheffler faced an anxious wait to see if he would avoid a first missed cut since August 2022.

Masters champion Scheffler, a 3/1 pre-tournament favourite for his sixth win of the year, failed to record a single birdie for the first time in 169 rounds as he returned a 74 to finish five over par.

In contrast, Bryson DeChambeau made five birdies, including from tap-in range on the 18th, to set the halfway target on four under following an eventful 69.

McIlroy had hoped to exploit ideal conditions and fresh greens on Friday morning but hit a mediocre chip from short of the green on his opening hole, the par-five 10th, and was unable to convert the birdie putt from 12 feet.

That was McIlroy's first five of the week — he had birdied both par fives on Thursday — and another soon followed on the 11th when he was unable to get up and down after a slightly pulled approach span back off the green.

McIlroy also bogeyed the par-three 15th and the Northern Irishman's day looked set to go from bad to worse when his birdie putt on the 17th rolled past the hole and off the front of the green, but he promptly chipped in for an unorthodox par.

A first birdie of the day finally arrived on the third and McIlroy made a vital save on the fifth after seeing Scheffler and Xander Schauffele both run up double-bogey sevens after needing two attempts to find the putting surface from the native area left of the green.

McIlroy's approach had also ended up in the same area but he wisely cut his losses with a more conservative third shot across the green and two-putted for par.

A bogey on the ninth cost McIlroy a share of the lead but with weather warnings posted around the course as the temperature climbed above 90 degrees, the afternoon starters were set to face increasingly difficult conditions.

"Obviously it didn't go quite as well as yesterday, but I feel like the golf course played a little more difficult, even though we were off in the morning," McIlroy said.

"Some of the hole locations were definitely a little tougher. Sort of had to have your wits about you. I putted it off one green there on 17.

"Overall I felt like I did a pretty good job at keeping some of the mistakes off the scorecard. I wish I had converted a couple more of the chances. Hit the ball pretty well. I think only missed one fairway. So I had plenty of opportunities.

"Wasn't quite as good with the putter today but still overall in a great position going into the weekend."

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