Rory McIlroy boosted his chances of a third consecutive RBC Canadian Open title with a flawless second round of 67 in Ontario.
McIlroy recorded five birdies at Oakdale Golf and Country Club to improve to six under par, three shots off the halfway lead held by China’s Carl Yuan.
The world number three first won the tournament by seven shots in 2019 but it was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. McIlroy carded a closing 62 to win at St George’s 12 months ago.
Asked about trying to win the title for a third time on a third different course, McIlroy said: “I sort of like it.
“I like reacting to what I’m seeing out there and targets. And I’m not a great player at playing a course by memory.
“There’s certain venues on tour that I go back to and I play well, but it’s not really because I remember how putts are breaking or where to miss it. It’s just I feel comfortable at that venue.”
Rounds of 68 and 67 gave Yuan a one-shot lead over home favourite Corey Conners, C.T. Pan and the English pair of Tyrrell Hatton and Aaron Rai.
Hatton, who fired six birdies in seven holes from the seventh in his 64, said: “A lot of putts went in, which was nice.
7 birdies in tough conditions for the TOUR rookie pic.twitter.com/LRQyVeCVfo
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 9, 2023
“The greens were a bit funky this afternoon; I managed to hit my start line, they’d bobble off line and thankfully they bobbled back on line and went in. Just happy to see the ball go in the hole and have a decent day.”
Rai was three over par after six holes of his opening round, but has played the next 30 in 11 under in pursuit of his first PGA Tour title.
“It’s a funny game and you can sometimes be playing great but sometimes be doubtful in the mind and not feel amazing over certain shots,” Rai said.
“You can sometimes be playing quite poorly but then kind of flick a switch in the mind and feel very positive about what you’re doing and what’s to come.
“So I think that was the biggest thing that even on hole number seven (on Thursday), although I was three over I felt pretty calm and pretty settled in the situation we were in. I think that was key for then finishing off the round very strongly.”