McIlroy gives rib tick of approval after successful return

Jordan Spieth showed his creative talents with back-to-back chip-ins during the second round

The only time he was came in 2011, when McIlroy was the 54-hole leader but fell apart over the closing nine holes, shooting 43 for a score of 80 that dropped him to a tie for 15th.

McIlroy, and in a return to full competition in some six weeks since suffering a rib injury, capped his round in a three-hole stretch in birding 13, holing a 150-yard second shot for eagle at 14 and then sinking a four-footer for birdie at 15. That was part of the reason I wanted to go and play. He has a few stories about me that I wish he didn't which can be challenging, but he's fun to be around.

This, indeed, was done with McIlroy still feeling the effects of the food poisoning which had first surfaced in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Mickelson proceeded to post a 68 for a seven-under total but even his renowned brilliance was only good enough to put himself in a tie for second for England's Ross Fisher on seven-under, with McIlroy enjoying a two-shot lead.

British Open champion Henrik Stenson wasn't so fortunate.

Thomas rose 12 positions thanks to his 66, which included eight birdies and three bogeys.

Not only is McIlroy playing for the first time in nearly two months, but he's also been dealing with a barrage of criticism ever since playing a round with President Trump a few weeks ago. There seems to be little debate about that.

The 43-year-old Englishman led by two strokes before stumbling at the end, while Mickelson rolled in a 16-footer for birdie at the last to join him with a four-under 67. He missed four putts from 6 feet or closer.

"I don't feel that far behind", the world No 3 said.

"I just approached it, as I said in my statement, as a round of golf", McIlroy said. I just wanted to have an experience that I might not ever get (again); play golf with a sitting president.

He wasn't alone in missing short putts.

Mickelson also spoke about how far he was hitting the ball after his birdie finish left him atop a leaderboard that also included PGA Championship victor Jimmy Walker, fellow American Ryan Moore, Englishman Ross Fisher and young Spaniard Jon Rahm.

"I feel like I'm probably stronger now than I was in November, December a year ago", he said. "I feel like someone's playing goalie up by the hole". These things happen, I'm still two ahead going into the weekend.

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