McIlroy's Ryder Cup team-mates Westwood and Poulter both struggled for consistency, with Poulter scrambling four pars and a birdie over the first four holes before finding water with his tee shot to the fifth after being distracted by mobile phone sounds in the crowd. and running up a double-bogey. The world No 6 carded two bogeys in his opening five holes, but three birdies followed, ensuring he made the cut. "I'm ticking goals off at a decent rate at the minute".
Lee [Westwood, the tournament host] asked me at the wedding of Sergio [Garcia] in July if I was thinking about playing but I was hoping to be in last week's Tour Championship and take this week off. It wasn't my best stuff.
"If someone had told me at The Belfry that in your first ten years, you're going to achieve what I have, I would have been very happy", McIlroy told ESPN.
"I should have backed off". "I'm not really looking ahead at anything. They should have it on silent, but, anyway, a good rally round the back nine and a bonus there on the last, rolling a 15-footer in".
McIlroy was unable to play the required number of events in 2015 after suffering an ankle injury which forced him to miss the defence of his Open title at St Andrews.
Ian Poulter gatecrashes the pre-coverage chat with Nick Dougherty and Mark Roe, and what is he listening to while warming up at the British Masters? "So I thought, yeah, I'll play an extra one and not have to answer to the membership about why I didn't play the minimum when I could have". "I get to come up here and not have somebody asking where we're putting a tee or a flag". Jack (Nicklaus) has a better record but I don't know if he played better golf. Get rid of the frustration, come out tomorrow feeling somewhat refreshed.
Overnight-leader Tyrrell Hatton is alongside Poulter on 11 under following a poor finish which saw him drop two shots in the final four holes.
Hatton defied the wet and miserable early conditions to add a composed 65 to his opening 63 to hit the front on 12 under par, and he is one of a remarkable seven English players in the top 10 at the halfway stage at Close House.
"It was a really good day as I played lovely out there and gave myself plenty of chances, and managed to convert a few at the end", said Hatton. "Take care of top 50 in the world this week, get in the HSBC Champions (in Shanghai) which I've won before. I think it brings a bit more to that event".
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