Sports Rory McIlroy shoots a 65 with 2 tee shots in the water and 1 uncomfortable dispute

TAMPA:  It may have been a windy day at the Feather Sound Country Club, but it was plain sailing for World No. 8 Charley Hull, who powered into top spot at the Aramco Team Series presented by the Public Investment Fund in Tampa. 

Hull followed up her fierce opening day score of 68 with more of the same on day two, sitting at eight-under-par at the top of the leaderboard — one stroke clear of Spain’s Carlota Ciganda and Germany’s Alexandra Forsterling.

“It has been a very productive Saturday,” said Hull, as focused as ever. “I managed to hole a few clutch putts, so I’m happy with that. I love playing in America and I love playing on the LET, so this event is a win-win.

“I was expecting a nice slow stroll around today, but I do enjoy playing in the wind and a bit of a challenge.

“I’ve never really let my mental health affect me on the golf course. I am a very strong-minded person, and I’m in a good place.”

The team element of the tournament had an enthralling conclusion, with France’s Pauline Roussin-Bouchard leading her squad to victory with a score of 68, retaining the team title after her 2023 win in Florida.

A nerve-wracking putt from their amateur LuJain Omar Khalil on the 18th sealed the deal for Team Roussin-Bouchard, with Celine Herbin and Meghan MacLaren making up the group as team champions.

The amateur Khalil, who represents Saudi Arabia, claimed her second successive team title, having played her part in Team Ciganda at the Aramco Team Series Presented by PIF — Riyadh in October 2023.

Roussin-Bouchard eagled the 14th to help her take the team spoils at Feather Sound Country Club, with compatriot and teammate Celine Herbin making three birdies on the first four holes to set the tone for what would be a spectacular day of golf for Team Roussin-Bouchard.

“I am extremely proud,” reflected Roussin-Bouchard. “It’s been a blast, honestly. There was an amazing atmosphere. Everyone was cheering on one another, and it was just a very good balance in the team.

“We had each other’s back no matter what. We had some tough times, especially with the wind, but it didn’t get a hold of us. Honestly, I couldn’t be (more) proud of the golfers, the way they handled everything.

“It was all about those last two holes; they were very stressful. It’s a team effort and LJ (Khalil) did well. 

“She got very, very stressed out on that last putt, she worried she was going to lose it, but we’re proud of her, a real credit to the team.”

Earlier in the day, American favorite Lexi Thompson carded a phenomenal 68 with six birdies, pushing her back into contention at five-under-par, three strokes off the leader Hull — although Team Thompson ultimately fell short.

The Florida native has enjoyed the home-field advantage this week, saying: “The bigger the crowd, the better for me. That makes a world of a difference whether I’m playing good or bad, people watching my bad shots and watching my good ones. It’s just great to have the support.”

Speaking about the course, the Major winner said: “I learned today that it can get windy out there! The golf course is in great shape for us, and they can tuck some of these pin locations in, so they can get very difficult. Some of the holes, you just take your power and run — it’s a great layout.

Matching Hull’s brilliant day of golf was Gabriella Cowley, who diminished all negativity from yesterday and carded the best round of the day, recording a five-under-par 67, including four birdies in six holes to put herself in contention when the professionals play for the ultimate glory on Sunday.

Ciganda, Forsterling, Aline Krauter and Ana Pelaez Trivino make up the top five with only three shots splitting fifth and first, with the final day poised for a showdown of the ages.

Aramco Team Series Tampa concludes on Sunday, March 10, with the professionals all fighting it out for the first of five titles and their share of $500,000. 

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