Rory McIlroy benefits from softer grounds at Carnoustie

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland -- The steady rain did not exactly turn the concrete that is Carnoustie into mush. But it did help Rory McIlroy, even if the conditions were more strenuous on Friday during the second round of The Open.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion, has had far more success in his career on softer layouts -- his victories in the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional and the 2014 Open at Royal Liverpool prime examples.

It would take a week's worth of rain to soften Carnoustie into anything like those soggy venues, but the overnight rain that remained steady into the early afternoon for McIlroy's round certainly took edge off the course as he shot a second straight 69.

"The fairways definitely didn't have as much fire in them," said McIlroy, who completed 36 holes at 4-under-par 138 and was two shots back of co-leaders Zach Johnson (the 2015 Open champion) and Kevin Kisner. "But it was cold as well. So the ball just wasn't going very far. I was surprised there was a couple of holes where I thought I'd hit shots that were going to end up in a fairway bunker or close to it, and they were a good bit short of that.

"So I think the fire has been taken a little bit out of the fairways and the greens as well, but the greens have been sort of receptive all week. Even yesterday, they're so much greener than the fairways. You still have to judge that first big hop that you get and even more so in the wet because it's going to skid off the top of the surface.

"But the shot that I played on 17 to get it up and down today, I wouldn't have been able to play a shot like that yesterday with how firm it was. So the moisture definitely helped me with that."

This is just the fourth time in his career that McIlroy has opened a major championship with consecutive rounds in the 60s, and in three of the previous times he went on to win the tournament.

Playing more conservatively than he had in the opening round, McIlroy made four birdies and two bogeys and played the tough four finishing holes in even par.

After missing the cut at the U.S. Open and having a disappointing final round at the Masters when he played in the last group with eventual champion Patrick Reed, McIlroy suggested he was too careful at those tournaments.

"Worrying too much about the result, not focusing as much on the process," McIlroy said. "Sunday at Augusta was a big learning curve again for me, because even if I hadn't won the tournament but I went down swinging and aggressive and committing to every shot, I would have walked away a lot happier.

"So I'm committed to making sure, even if I don't play my best golf and don't shoot the scores I want, I'm going to go down swinging and go down giving it my best. I think that was it. Focusing too much on the results and the result is just the byproduct of the little things that you do lead up to that."