Rory McIlroy off to flying start and back in the hunt at British Open

Rory McIlroy and his caddie JP Fitzgerald are enjoying Day 2
Rory McIlroy and his caddie JP Fitzgerald are enjoying Day 2

Rory McIlroy picked up where he left off with three birdies in his first six holes to gain some early momentum on the second day of the Open at Royal Birkdale.

The Northern Irishman admitted the putt he holed on the 18th green on Thursday to get him back to one-over gave him a much-needed boost.

It appeared to have the desired effect as the 28-year-old former champion hammered a wind-assisted three-wood 372 yards down the first and chipped to six feet to get back to level par.

Frustratingly he left a 15ft birdie attempt short at the next hole but already looked in far better shape than he had yesterday afternoon when he was five over through six holes and seemingly destined to crash out before his back-nine rally.

McIlroy's precision off the tee and approach play was much more controlled than his previous round and when he hit it to 10 feet at the third for his fifth birdie in his last seven holes he was under par for the first time in the tournament.

He then added another birdie at the sixth to enter the Top 10, just three shots off the lead.

Joint overnight leader Matt Kuchar struck out on his own by getting to six under thanks to a chip-in birdie at the third and a long putt at the next making up for dropping a shot at the second.

Kuchar then scrambled a par from heavy rough by the side of the sixth green to hold a one-shot advantage over compatriots Jordan Spieth and US Open champion Brooks Koepka - both due out in the forecasted worst of the windier afternoon weather.

The American did drop a shot on eighth to drop back into a tie for the lead.