Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Cameron Jourdan

Rory McIlroy ‘pretty confident’ heading to weekend at 2023 Genesis Scottish Open

Light rain arrived to North Berwick, Scotland, late Friday, and it was only a slight preview of what’s to come this weekend.

Rain and strong winds are expected Saturday and Sunday at the 2023 Genesis Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club. Third-round tee times will go off early because of anticipated thunderstorms Saturday. Both tees will be used, and groups will go off between 2-4 a.m. ET.

Rory McIlroy sits alone on top of the leaderboard, but there are plenty of other familiar faces near the top, including Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns, among others.

The weekend is bound to be exciting, but everyone is chasing McIlroy with Saturday on tap.

Scottish Open: Leaderboard | Photos

Here’s what you need to know from the second round of the 2023 Genesis Scottish Open.

Rory has 'no expectations'

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his second shot on the 13th hole during Day Two of the Genesis Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club on July 14, 2023 in United Kingdom. (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

No player in the field at The Renaissance Club has been better than McIlroy when it comes to Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green this week. He has gained nearly 10 strokes on the field. It’s when McIlroy gets to the green where he’s struggling.

And to say the leader is struggling on the greens may mean bad news for the rest of the field.

McIlroy shot 4-under 66 on Friday to move into the top spot heading to the weekend. Gusty winds and rain are going to provide a true links test the next two days, but McIlroy has set the pace and put himself in a spot where everyone wants to be.

“I hit the ball really well tee-to-green, gave myself a ton of looks,” McIlroy said. “Honestly it felt like 4 under was probably the worst I could have shot out there. But you know, it swings in roundabouts. I held a couple of long ones yesterday to shoot a good score, and then missed a couple today, but overall, really pleased with how the last two days have went.”

McIlroy was 5 under after 16 but made a bogey on the par-3 17th after he failed to get up-and-down. On the 18th, he made a good save after his tee shot found the thick right rough and his second shot was right of the green.

For as good as he is from tee to green, he’s losing half a stroke on the greens, and he has still made a lot of putts. Yet there have been just as many birdie opportunities that have slid past and not gone in. However, no one is beating McIlroy after 36 holes.

He has finished in the top 10 in his last five starts, dating to the PGA Championship. Next week, he defends his Open Championship title from 2014 at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake.

Up first, however, is battling the Scottish elements and trying to win for the first time since last October at the CJ Cup.

“I don’t really have any expectations,” McIlroy said of the weekend. “It would be silly of me to try to pick a potential target score to get to. Just embrace the conditions and just sort of make the best of them.

“I know that I’m playing well enough tee-to-green to give myself some looks and hang in there, so I’m pretty confident going into the next two days no matter what the weather throws at us.”

Byeong Hun An stuck in neutral

Byeong Hun An of South Korea tees off on the 2nd hole during Day Two of the Genesis Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club on July 14, 2023 in United Kingdom. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

After an incredible start Thursday for Byeong Hun An, he wasn’t able to repeat that late Friday.

An, who shot 9-under 61 and led after the first round, managed three birdies and three bogeys in his second round and shot even-par 70. He sits T-2 along with Tom Kim and Tyrrell Hatton and will be in the penultimate pairing come Sunday.

“It wasn’t my best day like yesterday, but it was pretty tough out there,” An said. “It’s hard to hit a lot of shots close. Yesterday compared to this, you know, it was a lot calmer, and today it’s a lot windier and then it rained and it’s hard to judge the distance. I hit some good shots out there but just not close enough to get a birdie putt. I’m only one back, so we’ll see in the next two days.”

An reached 11 under par with birdies on Nos. 3 and 5, but bogeys on Nos. 8, 10 and 12 hampered his momentum. Down the stretch, he hung on as the winds picked up and rain began for those finishing late Friday evening.

However, the 31-year-old remains only a stroke off the lead seeking his first Tour victory.

“I would have taken it if someone told me yesterday that, yeah, you’ll be one back going into the weekend,” An said. “Would definitely have taken it.”

Tom Kim likes links golf

Tom Kim of South Korea lines up a putt on the 10th green during Day Two of the Genesis Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club on July 14, 2023 in United Kingdom. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

The Genesis Scottish Open was a life-changing tournament for Tom Kim a year ago.

He finished third at The Renaissance Club, playing as an invitee from the Korean tour, and made the cut a week later at The Open Championship. Since then, he became the first player to win twice on the PGA Tour before turning 21 since Tiger Woods.

This week was bound to be special for Kim, and it has been another strong performance from him across the pond. Kim sits at 9 under after 36 holes following his 5-under 65 performance on Friday morning. He and Tyrrell Hatton, who shot his career-low round on Tour with a 62, were tied for the lead following the morning wave and sit one back of McIlroy heading to moving day.

“Just something about this place,” Kim said. “Last year, I really liked how the golf course was set up. Kind of suits my eye a little bit. Obviously had a great week last year, and you know, was really looking forward to coming back. It’s nice to be able to play well these first two rounds and hopefully just try to keep giving myself chances over the weekend.”

Kim reached 10 under before a bogey on his closing hole, the par-3 ninth.

He finished T-8 at the U.S. Open but has missed the cut three times in his past five starts. Kim has four top-10 finishes this year, the best being a T-5 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, back in January.

After winning twice in eight starts last year, Kim has somewhat cooled off after his crazy stretch. However, he’s ranked 25th in the world for a reason, and he has put himself in position to hoist a trophy yet again.

“Definitely played some solid golf,” Kim said. “But definitely gave myself a chance on the weekend with great two rounds, and just sticking to the game plan really well. Seen some improvements that I’ve put in on the off-week, so happy with my two rounds.”

Brotherly motivation

Nicolai Hojgaard of Denmark walks to the 8th green during Day Two of the Genesis Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club on July 14, 2023 in United Kingdom. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

It’s not a bad time to be a Hojgaard in the golfing world.

The twins, Nicolai and Rasmus, are two of the top up-and-coming golfers on the DP World Tour. Last week, Rasmus prevailed on the sixth playoff hole to win Made in Himmerland in their native Denmark.

This week, it’s Nicolai who’s lurking near the top of the leaderboard in Scotland, and he has a stellar second round to thank. Nicolai carded a 7-under 63 on Friday to move to 7 under for the tournament. He is three shots back heading to Saturday.

“Every time one of us plays well, the other one seems to get a little bit extra motivated,” Nicolai said. “Seeing Rasmus win last week made me probably work a little bit harder or be a little bit more focused on doing the right things.

“This week, I’ve played some good golf so far, and yeah, it’s nice to see.”

Nicolai, 22, has played in eight Tour events this year, his best finish being second at the Corales Puntacana Championship. He has won twice on the DP World Tour, but the most impressive victory was his first at the 2021 DS Automobiles Italian Open. That victory came one week after Rasmus won the Omega European Masters, becoming the first brothers to go back-to-back in DP World Tour history.

The Hojgaard brothers have plenty of talent, and as they’re gaining more experience, they’re starting to show up near the top of more and more leaderboards. Don’t be surprised to see more of them in the future, but don’t be mistaken. They’re already here.

“I haven’t played that much good golf lately, so it’s nice to see a good round early,” Nicolai said. “So I really look forward to grind it out over the weekend.”

Get in!

Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium plays his second shot on the 10th hole during Day One of the Genesis Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club on July 13, 2023 in United Kingdom. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Everyone knows the best way to follow up a bogey is with a hole-in-one.

Well, at least that’s what Nicolas Colsaerts did Friday. The 40-year-old from Belgium bogeyed the par-4 13th at The Renaissance Club before stepping to the tee at the 172-yard par 3.

His shot hit in the middle of the green before it spun to the right and into the cup for an ace, his first in a PGA Tour event.

“I’ve been chasing a hole-in-one in professional golf for 20-something years,” Colsaerts said. “I’m super happy that it happens to be in Scotland. I mean, I’ve always played well in the Scottish Open. I’ve had a special relationship with these people since day one.”

The hole-in-one moved him to 3 under for his round and even for the tournament. And that’s where the fun started.

Colsaerts proceeded to go bogey-eagle-birdie-bogey, putting him at 1 under and outside the cut line. What a roller coaster of emotions.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.