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Sports

    The Latest on the British Open (all times local): 10:15 a.m. Xander Schauffele is happy to be only five shots behind going into the third round of the British Open. He's just not happy with what he sees as inequity over testing that caused him to get a new driver before the opening round. Schauffele says his Callaway driver narrowly failed a test for the limits of the trampoline effect when the driver strikes the ball. Schauffele says he had to spend practice time trying to find a new driver, and only when he made more adjustments Friday morning did he feel comfortable. He opened with a 74 and followed that with a 65. Schauffele says he wasn't bothered that his driver didn't pass the test and he was happy to find one within the legal limits. He says he had issues with how the R&A only randomly selected 30 players for testing. Schauffele says it would be just as easy to test the entire field. ___ 10 a.m. Royal Portrush had all of Saturday morning to recover from the reality that Rory McIlroy is no longer part of this British Open. In a second round so packed with emotion that it felt like Sunday, McIlroy nearly recovered from his opening 79 by coming up one birdie short of making it to the weekend. McIlroy, one of three players from Northern Ireland celebrating the return of the Open after a 68-year absence, says he has never felt such support. And now for the rest of the show. Shane Lowry of Ireland and J.B. Holmes were tied for the lead at 8-under 134, one shot ahead of Lee Westwood and Tommy Fleetwood. Among those within three shots of the lead were Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth. ___ More AP golf: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Golf
  • Royal Portrush had all of Saturday morning to recover from the reality that Rory McIlroy is no longer part of this British Open. In a second round so packed with emotion that it felt like Sunday, McIlroy nearly recovered from his opening 79 by coming up one birdie short of making it to the weekend. McIlroy, one of three players from Northern Ireland celebrating the return of the Open after a 68-year absence, says he has never felt such support. And now for the rest of the show. Shane Lowry of Ireland and J.B. Holmes were tied for the lead at 8-under 134, one shot ahead of Lee Westwood and Tommy Fleetwood. Among those within three shots of the lead were Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth. ___ More AP golf: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Golf
  • A look at what's happening around the majors today: BE CAREFUL The extreme heat gripping much of the country is having an effect around the major leagues. The Yankees and Rockies have called off most of the pregame activities for their afternoon game — New York is forecast to come close to its first 100-degree day since 2012. It is expected to be 100 in Baltimore, where the Orioles host Boston at night. And it was 94 at Target Field on Friday night — the second-hottest start in park's 10-year history, trailing only a 97-degree reading on July 16, 2012 — when Minnesota faced Oakland. Players appeared to have trouble at times gripping the ball. Twins starter Jake Odorizzi took off his glove during a mound visit in the first inning and peppered both arms with the rosin bag. 'It was only like pitching in a rain forest,' Odorizzi said. 'I was taking the rosin bag and going up and down my arms so I could stop the sweat coming from my hand because I was just pouring sweat. I changed my jersey after the first inning, my hat. I just took it all off and came back fresh. I was pretty drenched out there and I know a lot of guys were in the same place.' MOVING UP San Francisco is back to .500 and has surged into the NL wild-card race, thanks to a seven-game winning streak. Jeff Samardzija and the Giants try to keep it going at home, a day after a botched flyball in the 10th inning gave them a 1-0 victory over the Mets. ... The Indians have moved into playoff contention by winning six in a row. Adam Plutko starts for Cleveland at home against Kansas City. ALL SET The Brewers are expected to activate Gio Gonzalez from the 10-day injured list to start at Arizona. The 33-year-old lefty was 2-1 with a 3.19 ERA in six starts for Milwaukee before being sidelined by arm fatigue. Gonzalez made rehab starts with Class A Carolina and Triple-A San Antonio after going on the injured list May 29. WHAT A RELIEF Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is ready to rejoin the Red Sox after missing three months because of elbow surgery. Although he appeared as a starter in all four of his games in April, the 29-year-old will return as a member of the bullpen, possibly the closer. Eovaldi is expected to be activated for the game in Baltimore. WELCOME BACK Journeyman catcher Ryan Lavarnway was a big hit in his return to the majors. With the Reds needing a backstop after a series of injuries left them thin behind the plate, they signed the 31-year-old on Thursday after he was released by the Yankees — he had batted .213 in a Triple-A backup role. Lavarnway hit two homers, doubled and drove in a career-high six runs as Cincinnati lost to St. Louis 12-11 on Friday night. Lavarnway had played a total of 12 games in the big leagues in the last four seasons. ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • A week after the worst start of his career, Mike Leake came back with his best. Shockingly so. Leake took a perfect game into the ninth inning, losing his bid at baseball immortality when rookie Luis Rengifo hit a leadoff single as the Seattle Mariners beat the Los Angeles Angels 10-0 Friday night. 'It was fun,' Leake said. 'As you get closer, you get the shakes and you have to calm yourself down. Other than that, it's just a matter of making pitches.' There were hugs all around the clubhouse after Leake finished off a one-hitter and stopped Seattle's six-game losing streak. It was an amazing turnaround from his previous outing — the Angels tagged him for seven runs on eight hits in a walk last Friday while he got just two outs, the only time he's been pulled from a start without getting through the first inning. Seattle lost that game 13-0 as two Angels pitchers combined for a no-hitter on a day their club wore the jerseys of late teammate Tyler Skaggs. 'Wow,' Mariners manager Scott Servais said. 'It's baseball, it's just crazy. . Just five, six days ago, he was pitching and they were on everything. So you just never know what you're going to see when you come to the park.' Leake hadn't come close to giving up a hit before Rengifo sent his 79th pitch cleanly between the first and second baseman. He hadn't gone to a three-ball count on any batter and had reached two balls on just six until the ninth. The fans gave Leake a standing ovation after the hit and he quickly waved to acknowledge their cheers. 'I had confidence because we'd faced him two times in the game,' Rengifo said. After a walk to Kevan Smith, Leake (8-8) retired the next three batters, striking out Mike Trout on a full-count pitch to end it. Leake fanned six and walked one. Though all smiles, the bearded, 31-year-old righty admitted he was disappointed. He'd never made it past the seventh inning with a no-hitter at any level. 'Oh, yeah, to get that close,' Leake said. 'Hopefully there's another shot, though.' Leake threw his second career shutout, erasing the sting of his last start. 'I think a little bit more urgency,' Leake said when asked about the difference. 'They came out super urgent last game and I didn't want that to happen again.' Leake, who has been the subject of trade speculation with the rebuilding Mariners, improved to 101-95 in 10 seasons. This was his sixth career complete game, and second this year, in 284 starts. There have been 23 perfect games in major league history, the last by Felix Hernandez of the Mariners in 2012, who was in the dugout cheering Leake. Leake said his teammates began to drift away from him in the dugout as the game progressed. Toward the end no one was talking to him, though he would occasionally catch guys eyeballing him to see what he was doing. Daniel Vogelbach hit two three-run homers and drove in a career high-tying six runs against reliever Jaime Barria (3-3). Leake kept the Angels off the bases with a fastball that was right around 88 mph, along with a cutter, changeup and curve. 'He mixes pitches and mixes speeds,' Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. 'You've got the cutter and sinker moving in two directions. He's got the big curveball. He can sometimes drop his arm a little bit on that and make it sweep away from righties. He did an excellent job, threw strikes. Not a ton of strikeouts, but not a lot of solid contact by us as well. It was his night.' Seattle has six no-hitters in its history, the last by James Paxton against Toronto in May 2018. The Mariners hadn't won since before the All-Star break, a stretch that included their no-hitter loss in LA, and had lost 13 of their last 15. Vogelbach made it 3-0 with a homer in the fourth. He hit his 23rd home run in the fifth. TRAINER'S ROOM Angels: Albert Pujols sat out Friday's game as a precaution. The first baseman came out of Thursday night's game against the Astros with left hamstring tightness. Manager Brad Ausmus said the hope is Pujols will be ready for Saturday's game against the Mariners. . Reliever Keynan Middleton's rehab assignment at Triple-A Salt Lake City has been shut down due to numbness and tingling in his pitching arm. Ausmus said a test showed that Middleton's grafted UCL remains attached. There's no timetable for his return. Mariners: Closer Hunter Strickland will begin a rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Tacoma on Saturday in his return from a right lat strain that's kept him out since March. Servais said he will need to make three or four appearances in Tacoma before returning to the major league roster to regain his endurance. But he can't get into the lineup soon enough with Seattle's struggles in the bullpen. ... Center fielder Mallex Smith left the game after the fifth inning with a sore right thumb he injured in the game. UP NEXT Angels: RHP Griffin Canning (3-5, 4.74 ERA) will make his first career start against the Mariners. Mariners: Seattle will send a pitcher to be determined to the mound for an inning before turning it over to LHP Wade LeBlanc (5-3, 5.15 ERA). ___ More AP baseball coverage: www.apnews.com/MLB and www.twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Mike Leake of the Seattle Mariners has lost his bid for a perfect game in the ninth inning on a leadoff single by rookie Luis Rengifo of the Los Angeles Angels. Rengifo hit a grounder into right field on a 1-1 pitch Friday night. The crowd in Seattle gave Leake a big cheer and he waved to the fans. The Mariners lead 10-0. ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Even from the training room, Adam Wainwright could sense something brewing. 'You just had that feeling,' he said. 'Every one of those guys said, 'We've got you.' Jose Martinez homered and singled and Paul DeJong added a two-run double during a 10-run rally in the sixth inning, and the St. Louis Cardinals overcame a seven-run deficit Friday night for a wild 12-11 win over the Cincinnati Reds. Down 7-0, the Cardinals put together their biggest inning of the season on the way to their sixth win in seven games. Wainwright was rocked for nine hits and seven runs in 3 1/3 innings but ran out in shorts and a T-shirt to pass out high fives after the big inning. 'There wouldn't have been a comeback if I hadn't pitched terrible,' he added, jokingly. Jesse Winker hit a two-out, two-run single in the ninth off Cardinals closer Carlos Martinez. But Joey Votto grounded out with runners at the corners to give Martinez his seventh save. Journeyman catcher Ryan Lavarnway hit two homers, doubled and drove in a career-high six runs for Cincinnati in his first game in the majors this season. Released by the Yankees this week after hitting .213 in a Triple-A backup role, Lavarnway was signed by the Reds after a series of injuries left them thin behind the plate. The 31-year-old Lavarnway, who had played a total of 12 games in the big leagues in the last four seasons, went 3 for 4 with a walk. Wainwright's career ERA against the Reds jumped from 5.01 to 5.31, his worst against major league team. Michael Wacha (6-4) wound up with the win, allowing three hits in 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Jose Martinez had an infield single that loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth against Tyler Mahle. After DeJong's two-run double off Matt Bowman made it 7-5, a two-out error by Votto at first base let the Cardinals tie it. Martinez capped the comeback with a three-run homer off Jared Hughes (3-3). DeJong added a long two-run homer in the seventh, his second in two nights off Robert Stephenson. 'We can get the homers late to bury teams, but passing the baton is huge,' DeJong said. 'Getting base hits and infield singles is a way we can score runs.' Lavarnway hit a three-run homer in the fourth that finished Wainwright for his first home run in the big leagues since Aug. 23, 2015, for Atlanta. Lavarnway added a two-run shot in the eighth for his first multihomer game since hitting two for Boston on Sept. 27, 2011. 'I was just enjoying it,' he said. 'I've been up and down so many times. You never know when it's going to be your last one. Earlier in my career, I didn't let myself enjoy the highs. I tried to be stoic. I tried to be Jason Varitek. I'm like a cat with nine lives right now. I'm grateful for the opportunity.' MAGIC SIXTH The Cardinals rode a big sixth to a win for the second straight night. They scored five in the sixth on Thursday to grab a 7-3 lead on the way to a 7-4 win. MONEY'S WORTH Cincinnati 3B Eugenio Suarez and manager David Bell were ejected between the first and second innings by plate umpire Carlos Torres for arguing balls and strikes. Bell's ejection was a club-record seventh of the season, breaking a tie with Clark Griffith, who had six each in 1909 and 1910. The Reds lead the majors with 15 ejections. NEW GROUND Jose Peraza made his first career appearance at third base after Suarez's ejection, pushing to five the number of positions he's played this season. Peraza has appeared at shortstop, second base, left field and center field. BIG DEBUT Lavarnway became the first player with six RBIs in his Reds debut since RBIs became an official statistic in 1920, according to the Reds. BIG INNINGS Cincinnati allowed as many as 10 runs in an inning for the first time since July 26, 2015, in the third inning at Coors Field. TRAINER'S ROOM Cardinals: OF Marcell Ozuna can resume baseball activities after the swelling in his injured right hand decreased and he went through an encouraging workout on Thursday at Busch Stadium. He's been out since June 29 with hand and finger fractures. . The Cardinals hope INF Matt Carpenter can start a minor league rehab assignment sometime in the next week. Carpenter went on the 10-day IL on June 16 with a right foot contusion. Reds: LHP Alex Wood, out all season with lower back problems, is scheduled to throw a bullpen in Cincinnati on Saturday to get ready for his fourth rehab start on Monday for Double-A Chattanooga at Birmingham. UP NEXT Cardinals: The Reds roughed up RHP Miles Mikolas (6-9) for six hits, including three home runs, and four runs in five innings of a 12-1 St. Louis loss on April 26. Reds: RHP Luis Castillo (9-3) pitching six innings of two-hit, one-run ball in a 4-1 Cincinnati win at St. Louis on June 4. ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Jim Herman took the Barbasol Championship lead — with some help from President Donald Trump. Trump's regular golf partner while working as an assistant professional at Trump National Bedminster in New Jersey, Herman changed to a conventional putting grip and clubhead at the president's suggestion. 'He gave me a good talking to and told me to use a different style if it's not working,' Herman said. 'So, that was a couple weeks ago and I finally put it into play.' It has worked well at rain-softened Keene Trace, with Herman shooting his second straight 7-under 65 on Friday to take the second-round lead in the PGA Tour event. Encouraged years ago by Trump to pursue a playing career, Herman is in position for his second PGA Tour victory. 'Some great advice, so I appreciate it,' Herman said. 'Seems like I played pretty well after I played with him. I played with him the week before I won Houston, so maybe that's a sign to come, hopefully.' Herman had a one-stroke lead over Bill Haas. 'Everything seems to be working this week,' Herman said. 'Nice change up. I haven't been playing very well or had the best results lately. Just some good play. ... Hitting a lot of greens and making some putts and that's always a good combination.' Haas followed his opening 65 with a 66. He made a 45-foot eagle putt on the par-5 eighth, his 17th hole. 'The eagle was nice,' Haas said. 'That drive I won't say is uncomfortable for me, but I just fear left a lot. I feel like I could hit it left, so I tend to miss those tee shots right. I hit a nice tee shot down the fairway and I just told myself to be aggressive with a nice drawing iron in there. Aggressive was still 30 feet right. So, 30 footer up over a slope, I just would have been happy with a two putt there. Just fortunate to make a long one.' David Toms was two strokes back at 12 under after a 64. The 52-year-old Toms made a 13-foot eagle putt on the par-5 fifth, his 14th hole of the day. D.J. Trahan, Kelly Kraft and Kramer Hickok also were 12 under, each shooting 67. 'Just really solid,' Toms said. 'Probably the key to today is I had a couple pitch-ins from off the green in tough situations on a couple of the par 3s, so to hole those kind of kept my round going. But other than that, I hit a lot of shots in the fairway, I had a lot of birdie chances.' Jose de Jesus Rodríguez (65), Austin Cook (66), Sebastian Munoz (68) and Wes Roach (69) were 11 under. Tom Lovelady played the first six holes on the back nine in 7 under, capped by a 10-foot eagle putt on the par-5 15th. He bogeyed the par-3 16th and parred the last two for a 65 to top the group at 10 under. J.T. Poston, the first-round leader after a 62, had a 73 to drop into a tie for 18th at 9 under. Canadian Nick Taylor, a stroke behind Poston after an opening 63, also was 9 under after a 72. John Daly missed the cut with rounds of 71 and 72. Fighting osteoarthritis in his right knee, the 53-year-old Daly was playing his first PGA Tour event since he was approved for a cart last fall. Denied a cart by the R&A for the British Open, he has been approved for a cart at PGA Tour events until the end of the year. The winner will receive a spot in the PGA Championship, but not in the Masters.
  • Keith Thurman certainly seems like more than the modern Manny Pacquiao should be able to handle. Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs) is a decade younger, certainly more powerful and maybe even a bit faster than his famously speedy opponent. Thurman is a tough, voluble welterweight champion in his prime competitive years, and Pacquiao represents the biggest fight of his career — a once-in-a-lifetime chance to pound a boxing great into retirement. 'It's been a build up and a progression my whole career toward this moment on Saturday night,' Thurman said. 'This really is the outcome of an individual living out their dream.' So why are the 40-year-old Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) and trainer Freddie Roach so confident heading into the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas? And why is the older eight-division champion actually a slight betting favorite against one of the best 147-pounders in the world? After 18 years together, Pacquiao and Roach believe Thurman is just another challenge to be overcome by hard work, smart planning and the psychological edge of experience. Thurman looks daunting on paper, but Pacquiao and Roach are virtuosos on canvas. 'Tomorrow night, class is in session,' Pacquiao said Friday after the weigh-in. 'I hope Keith Thurman studied hard, because Professor Pacquiao gives very hard tests.' Pacquiao and Thurman both hold versions of the WBA 147-pound title heading into this Fox Sports pay-per-view showdown. In Roach's educated mind, the vaunted Thurman has far more questions to answer than Pacquiao, who is coming into this fight off back-to-back victories over Lucas Matthysse and Adrien Broner. Can Thurman recapture his prime fighting form after two years of relative inactivity caused by a 22-month injury layoff? Can he match Pacquiao's legendary speed while showing the stamina to fight effectively for 12 rounds against Manny's famed pace? 'I hope Thurman brings his best, because that's when Manny will be at his best,' Roach said. 'Thurman is a good fighter, but Manny beats good fighters all the time. And I don't think Keith Thurman is a great fighter. I think Broner is a better fighter, and Manny took care of him (easily).' While Thurman is in the biggest bout of his career, the Filipino senator's late-career resurgence also reaches a vital point Saturday. Despite what Roach says, Thurman seems certain to be a big step up in competition from Matthysse and Broner, and the cumulative effects of a boxing career rarely wear well after 40. 'Manny isn't going to do anything with those little T-Rex arms,' Thurman said. 'He's about to get beat up. I get to punch a senator in the face, and he's going to feel it.' Thurman earned the nickname 'One Time' with his one-punch knockout power, yet he has stopped just one of his seven opponents since December 2013. And though Thurman is still in his ostensible prime, he has shown a few signs of weariness with his sport. He has never looked more vulnerable as a professional than he did in his comeback victory last January over tough veteran Josesito Lopez, who rocked Thurman repeatedly and even won a 10-8 round without a knockdown. More recently, Thurman has repeatedly spoken about how he's eager to get a few big paydays and then get out of boxing — a sensible mentality that nonetheless could indicate a fighter's focus isn't completely on competition anymore. Thurman has been totally focused in public appearances for this big-money bout, however. 'I'm going to do to Manny Pacquiao what he did to Oscar De La Hoya,' Thurman said, referring to Pacquiao's landmark victory over the Golden Boy in 2008. While Thurman would love to retire his opponent, Pacquiao plans to keep competing indefinitely, and he doesn't dismiss the notion of fighting to 50 and beyond, as Bernard Hopkins did. He has openly looked beyond Thurman to his hopes of a second fight with the retired Floyd Mayweather, or a unification bout with champion Errol Spence. But just in case anybody believes he isn't focused on Thurman, Pacquiao said that even his mother took offense at Thurman's pre-fight trash talk , including his vow to 'crucify' the vocally evangelical Pacquiao. 'I'm just always smiling, no matter what Keith says,' Pacquiao said. 'It's easy to say things, but it's not easy to do it in the ring. I've been in this sport longer than Keith Thurman, so my experience will be the difference.' ___ More AP sports: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Cydney Clanton and Jasmine Suwannapura shot a 7-under 63 in alternate-shot play Friday to open a five-stroke lead in the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, the LPGA Tour's first-year team event. Clanton and Suwannapura birdied five of the last seven holes on the front nine and played the last five holes in 2 under, making three birdies and a bogey. 'I think because we pretty chill, like 'You hit a bad shot, like OK, I'll fix it, don't worry,'' Suwannapura said. 'So everybody kind of like relaxing the game today, so the result pretty good.' They had a 16-under 194 total at Midland Country Club, with a best-ball round left Saturday. 'Each hole's an opportunity,' Clanton said. 'How many opportunities can we give ourselves. One of those things where as many fairways and greens as you can hit and if the putts go in, great.' Suwannapura, from Thailand, won the Marathon Classic last year for her lone LPGA Tour title. Clanton is winless on the tour. They had an alternate-shot 67 on Wednesday and shot a best-ball 64 on Thursday. 'Today, I think what we did was quite impressive just with our ball-striking in general,' Clanton said. 'Jasmine's putting's on point. I think you've just got to look at it as it's just another opportunity to play and the more that you can think of the fact that it's just another day on the golf course, we're going to go out and try to do what we've been doing, the better it's going to be.' Sisters Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn had a 64 to move into a tie for second at 11 under with Simin Feng-Ruixin Liu (67), Na Yeon Choi-Jenny Shin (67) and Paula Creamer-Morgan Pressel (69). 'I felt like first round, don't want to miss any shot because I don't want my sister to have like tough shot and I kind of worry and scared,' Ariya Jutanugarn said. 'But today we already make the cut and nothing to lose, so we keep playing golf.
  • Rory McIlroy's salvage operation began as a quest to regain respectability. Keeping his ball in play off the first tee was a good way to start. By the time he reached the back nine, it had become something very different. McIlroy was on the charge in a British Open at Royal Portrush — a sensation he'd dreamt of for so long — and it felt like all of Northern Ireland was behind him as he walked the links on the North Atlantic coast. 'Rory, we love you,' shouted a female fan beside the 14th green after he made a fourth birdie in five holes. 'We're with you all the way, Rory,' cried one man after McIlroy holed a 10-foot putt for another birdie at No. 16, nicknamed Calamity Corner. McIlroy just needed one more birdie on the last hole to make the cut and complete one of the great redemption tales of this storied event. It wasn't to be. 'I didn't play my part,' McIlroy said after a par at No. 18 meant he finished one stroke below the cut line at 1 over, despite a 6-under 65 that tied the best round of the week. 'But everyone in Northern Ireland came out to watch me and played theirs.' In the end, that shocking opening-round 79 did too much damage. That tee shot at the first that went out of bounds. That missed putt from barely a foot at No. 16, something McIlroy deemed 'inexcusable.' That sloppy triple bogey at the last that sagged his shoulders even more. That was all forgotten by the locals a day later. The spine-tingling roar McIlroy received from the grandstands as he walked down the 18th fairway, the clock having passed 8 p.m. and the light fading, will stay with him forever. McIlroy struggled to hold back the tears in his post-round interviews. High up in his thoughts was the feeling that he had connected with his fellow natives who so rarely see Northern Ireland's most famous active sportsman in the flesh. 'Sometimes you're so far away and you forget about all the people that are cheering you on back home,' said McIlroy, who lives in south Florida. 'And then you come and play in front of them. It definitely hit me like a ton of bricks today.' The pre-tournament betting favorite to hold the claret jug on Sunday, McIlroy began his second round as a 500-1 outsider and needing something comparable to the 61 he shot as a 16-year-old amateur to simply make the weekend. A long birdie putt at No. 3 and a 15-footer for another birdie at No. 7 gave him only an outside chance heading to the turn. Then McIlroy accelerated. A birdie at No. 10 was followed by another at the 11th after an approach to 2 feet. A tap-in birdie at the par-5 12th left him only two shots from safety and it felt as if every spectator on the Dunluce Links had converged to watch McIlroy's group, which also contained U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland and England's Paul Casey. McIlroy found the bunker off the 13th tee and left his 12-foot par putt short for his only bogey of the day, making his task that much harder. Three birdies were required from the final five holes, the first arriving from 15 feet at No. 14 after an approach which left McIlroy holding his pose. Whoops of joy from beer-swilling spectators greeted his birdie putt from 10 feet at No. 16, and fans even cheered McIlroy as he ducked out for a bathroom break on the side of the 17th fairway. He pulled his birdie putt on the 17th green, to massive groans. McIlroy had one more chance. But from the middle of the 18th fairway, McIlroy hit his approach left and the ball landed on a mound to the side of the green and rolled down the slope. He leaned on his iron, shook his head, and shaped with his left hand the way he wanted to hit that shot. Only a chip-in would keep McIlroy at Royal Portrush for an extra two days, but his attempt swerved left. Still, his putt for par was received like he had rolled in the winning putt on Sunday. 'It's a moment I envisaged for the last few years. It just happened two days early,' McIlroy said. 'Today was probably one of the most fun rounds of golf I've ever played. It's strange saying that standing here and having had a bit of success and won this championship before, and just to be battling to make the cut.' McIlroy remains stuck on four majors, his drought in golf's biggest events certain to extend to a sixth year. Friday's round was a reminder, though, of how big a draw McIlroy is, especially back on home soil. 'Even as a competitor and trying to beat the guy every week, sometimes I have to step back and realize how great Rory McIlroy is for golf,' Justin Thomas tweeted. 'How he handles the spotlight, the highs, the lows, his social life, the fans, his golf, everything.. it's awesome to watch.' ___ More AP golf: https://apnews.com/apf-Golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80