McIlroy the fan favorite, leader at Deutsche Bank

Rory McIlroy feels at home in Norton, Mass.

Some of the biggest stars on the PGA Tour are feeling right at home this week at Norton’s TPC Boston in the Deutsche Bank Championship as soft conditions have led to low scores.

World No. 1 Rory McIlroy is one of those players taking advantage, as he currently leads the tournament at 12-under par after shooting back-to-back rounds of 65.

“Yeah, I was very pleased with how I played today, how I played yesterday as well. Now I’m in a great position going into the weekend,” McIlroy said. “I got off to a nice start and sort of just kept the momentum going.”

McIlroy finished his second round with six birdies and also an eagle at the par-5 18th. He did give two shots back with back-to-back bogeys on holes 2 and 3.

Earlier in the week McIlroy was made aware of the Irish population in the greater Boston area. The 23-year-old said he did notice them in his first and only previous appearance at the Deutsche Bank two years ago.
            “To be honest, yeah, the last time I was here, there’s a few people — not a few, there’s a lot of people around this area that have got Irish roots, and they’re not afraid to say that, either,” he said. “I don’t feel like it gives me any sort of home comfort or anything like that, but it’s nice to have a lot of people out here that are supporting me.”

There was no doubt who would get the biggest following this week as Tiger Woods did not quality for the tournament last year.

“It feels good to be back,” Woods said earlier in the week. “Unfortunately, last year, I didn’t make the Playoffs at all and missed out on four big events.  It feels good to at least have played well enough this year to basically secure a spot all the way through to East Lake.”

Woods fired a 64 in Friday’s first round and followed it up with a 68 in Saturday’s second round. Going into round three Woods is tied for third. His ball striking was very solid Saturday, but his putter let him down, totaling 30 putts.

“I am happy with the way I hit it, I didn’t putt very good,” he said. “I didn’t really make anything. Hopefully tomorrow will be a lot better.”

Some of the other big names at the top of the leaderboard include Louis Oosthuizen (T-2), Jason Dufner (T-5), and 2010 winner Charley Hoffman (T-10). Phil Mickelson is tied for 15th.

First-round leader Seung-Yui Noh shot a second round 71 and sits in a tie for fifth. The two New England players in the field both made the cut, although not by much. Keegan Bradley, who played high school golf at Hopkinton, Mass. high school, made the cut right on the number at 2-over par.
           
Playing in the tournament for the first time last year, two weeks after winning the PGA Championship, he said he might have been a little distracted with things off the golf course.
           
“I threw out the first pitch (at the Red Sox), I flipped a coin at a Patriots game, I was doing this, I was over here doing that.  This week, I made sure to keep it very light, [Last year] took a big toll on me,” Bradley said.
           
Although he said he wouldn’t change anything he did last year, Bradley made sure to stick to his relaxed plan this week.
           
“I promised myself I would stay real low-key no matter what because it’s hard to say no to some of these things that are childhood dreams.  But I think I didn’t overdo it last year, but this year it’s nice not to be pulled in a million different directions,” he said.
            
The other New England player in the field is Scott Stallings, who actually grew up in Tennessee but spent most of his childhood summers in Massachusetts. The two-time PGA Tour winner birdied his final hole on Saturday (the ninth) to get to 1-over par, one shot inside the cut line.
           
Although the two players will not be in contention come Monday afternoon, there is still plenty to play for in terms of the FedEx Cup point standings, especially for Stallings. He is currently is ranked No. 74 with only the top 70 advancing to the BMW Championship, while Bradley is in good shape at No. 20. 


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