U.S. Open: Rory McIlroy's strong finish on Friday 'got myself right back in the tournament'

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Rory McIlroy is content with his performance across the first two rounds at The Country Club, coming into Friday one stroke off the lead, and finishing the same way after a one-under 69.

McIlroy trails only Collin Morikawa and Joel Dahmen, who lead at five under, but he needed to close in style to shoot back up the leaderboard after a shaky start.

His week threatened to fall apart on the third hole, but he was able to save double-bogey with a 30-foot putt to take some sort of momentum. He birdied the fifth and eighth, but bogeyed the sixth and 10th, leaving him at one under overall with eight holes to play.

But his final eight holes were magnificent, with birdies on 12, 14 and 17 to salvage an under-par round and maintain his one stroke deficit from the leaders.

Speaking to the media after his round, McIlroy said being in the hunt after Friday is all you can ask for at a major.

"After 36 holes in a major championship, that's all you want to do is put yourself right in the mix going into the weekend," he said.

"For a little part of the day there, it seemed like I was going to be a few more behind, but I dug deep and played the last eight holes really, really well.

"That was the goal. After I bogeyed 10, I just wanted to try to shoot under par.

"I had some chances coming up. Just played a really clean eight holes, which was pleasing. Hit fairways, hit greens, gave myself chances. Got myself right back in the tournament."

Despite being a four-time major champion, it has been nearly eight years since McIlroy's last major crown, and he said he does not think he can rely on those memories for an advantage.

"I think I have to go out with the mindset this week that I'm going to try to win my first again," he said. "I'm playing as good a golf as I've played in a long time.

"I have a lot of experience. Yes, I've won major championships and other big events, but… just because I've done that, it doesn't mean that I'll hit better golf shots or I'll hit better putts.

"I'm in a good place. I'm really happy with where my game is at, and I think that's the most important thing."

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