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Rory McIlroy posts another 66 at British Open

Rory McIlroy lines up a putt on the

Rory McIlroy lines up a putt on the fifth hole during the second round of The 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool on July 18, 2014 in Hoylake, England. Credit: Getty

HOYLAKE, England - He's done this before, three years ago in the other Open. He turned the 2011 U.S. Open into a runaway, and now on this side of the ocean, Rory McIlroy is doing it again.

McIlroy did something on Friday that he hadn't been doing much of this season and extended his lead in the 143rd British Open to four shots. Even with two rounds to play, he may be uncatchable.

The 25-year-old from Northern Ireland blitzed the field and the idea he couldn't play a great second round after a great first one by firing another 6-under-par 66 at Royal Liverpool. That gave him a 12-under total of 132 for 36 holes.

This was a virtual repeat of his domination at that 2011 Open at Congressional, when he built a six-shot margin at the halfway mark. He won that one and the PGA Championship in 2012, so a victory here along the River Dee would give him three of the game's four majors.

Dustin Johnson shot the day's low round, a 7-under 65, and grabbed second at 8-under 136.

Six players -- Francesco Molinari (70), Ryan Moore (68), Rickie Fowler (69), Sergio Garcia (70), Charl Schwartzel (67) and Louis Oosthuizen (68) -- are tied for third at 138.

After making a triple-bogey 7 on the 17th hole that hoisted him to 3 over for the tournament and one stroke above the cut line, Tiger Woods holed a 6-foot putt on the 18th for his only birdie of the day to hang around for the final two rounds. He shot a 77 for 146, right on the cut line.

Also at 146 was five-time British Open champion Tom Watson, who shot a second 73 and at age 64 became the oldest player ever to make the cut, breaking the mark he set two years at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, which runs the Open, announced after Friday's round that because of predicted wind and rain, play Saturday will go off the front and back nines, difficult on a links course where the 10th tee is a mile from the clubhouse.

McIlroy will be going off the first tee. In big tournaments this year -- the Masters, the Memorial, even last weekend's Scottish Open, in which he shot 64 on Thursday and 78 the next day -- his second rounds on Fridays were bewilderingly bad.

That the media harped on it probably didn't help.

"I didn't have it in my head at all," McIlroy said. "I just wanted to play another solid round of golf, stick to what I was doing, which is take advantage of the par-5s."

He did just that, with birdies on Nos. 5, 10 and 18.

"I just went out and executed the game plan the way I wanted to," he said. "It's nice to go out and shoot a really good one."

He made his only bogey of the first two days on the opening hole Friday when his approach bounded over the green. After three pars, he started making birdies, carding seven in the final 14 holes. He birdied the 17th and 18th holes to finish off a splendid day.

"Even though I started a little shaky with that bogey," he said, "I was still pretty confident."

McIlroy said it was hard to compare his play here with that at Congressional.

"Different courses, different conditions," he said. "But I feel the same feelings. Maybe not in the way I'm swinging or in my golf, but in my mind, mentally. So that's a great thing."

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