Tommy Fleetwood fires a faultless 65 to reach five-under, and Rory McIlroy surges up the leaderboard

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Fleetwood And McIlroy Make Open Moves

Tommy Fleetwood fired a bogey-free 65 to reach five-under at his halfway stage of the 147th Open Championship, and Rory McIlroy was equally impressive in shooting 69 to match his first round score.

Fleetwood’s faultless performance briefly saw him join Kevin Kisner at the top of the leaderboard, before former Open champion Zach Johnson closed one better.

However, Fleetwood was delighted with his progress: “I struggled yesterday tee to green, and it was hard work really to just get in,” he said. “It was a good 1-over in the end even though I bogeyed 16 and 17.

“I had some time on the range last night and came out today and just did a lot better basically. I drove it much better today. You’ve still got to complete the hole from there, but it makes a big difference if you’re not 30 yards in the rough hacking out.”

The world number ten opened his quest for a first Major with a one-over 72, after disappointing dropped shots on 16 and 17 yesterday, but on Friday he burst out the traps carding birdies at the 4th and 5th, before closing out the front nine with another three.

And the man from Southport put on an exhibition on the back nine, making further birdies at the 11th and 14th, and then, after a perfect drive down the notoriously difficult 18th, he signed off in style from 15 feet.

Despite losing the lead to Johnson not long after his round, Fleetwood is in a fine position to challenge for his first Major title.

“You’re halfway in and you’ve got 36 holes to go, but there’s no point thinking about the end game,” added Fleetwood, who finished runner-up at last month’s US Open.

Fleetwood And McIlroy Make Open Moves

Tommy Fleetwood battles the elements at the 147th Open Championship [Getty Images]

“Today’s been a round where I’ve put myself back in the tournament, and I’ve just got to move on from there really. If I can hit it like I did today, then, obviously, I’m going to have a lot of chances coming in over the weekend, and we’ll see where that takes me.”

Meanwhile, McIlroy remained patient in the wet conditions, and had to wait until the 7th for his first birdie, which broke a run of six successive pars.

Fleetwood And McIlroy Make Open Moves

Rory McIlroy makes a strong move on Friday at the 147th Open Championship [Getty Images]

And despite two bogeys on the back nine, he gained shots at the 10th, 13th and 14th, before narrowly missing a putt on the 18th that would have seen him match Fleetwood’s total.

“I just kept levelheaded when I needed to, and you know what, I didn’t let the conditions get to me,” reflected the Ulsterman.

“I wasn’t sort of saying to myself, ‘geez, I wish I was on the other side of the draw.’ I just sort of got on with it. I knew if I went out and shot another score under par, I’d be in great position going into the weekend.”