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Rory Flourishes After Going to the Dark Side

Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs Livepic

MIAMI — Evidently the dark side agrees with Rory McIlroy.

After McIlroy announced he was switching to a left-hand low putting grip at the WGC-Cadillac Championship this week, Jordan Spieth told him, “You’ve gone to the dark side, I see.”

Dark side, light side, whatever, McIlroy shot 65 Friday at Trump National Doral’s Blue Monster course to jump into a share of second place behind Adam Scott midway through the biggest event thus far in 2016.

For the record, McIlroy had just 23 putts on Friday, 10 fewer than on Thursday when he shot 71, but in fairness, the Friday putt total was a shade higher because McIlroy putted from the fringe a couple of times.

Regardless, it was the kind of round that has been missing for McIlroy on the PGA Tour this calendar year. Aside from a bogey at the second, it was a tidy round that took off when McIlroy made four straight birdies starting at the fifth hole.

“I just needed to play a round with as many mistakes,” McIlroy said. “I’ve been making birdies. That’s not the problem. It’s eliminating these mistakes that I’ve been making and to play a round with only one bogey is really nice.”

It landed McIlroy in the final pairing Saturday with Scott, who made his own highly publicized change in putting styles when anchored putting was banned. After finishing runner-up in the Northern Trust Open, Scott won the Honda Classic last week and starts the weekend with a two-stroke advantage at Doral.

McIlroy, meanwhile, is happy with the change he’s made even if he was reluctant for an unlikely reason.

“The one thing I was sort of worried about was ‘McIlroy copying Spieth.’ That was my big thing. But it’s felt really comfortable.”


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