(Reuters) - Rory McIlroy’s seven-under-par 63 in the second round at Colonial on Friday suggests he has adjusted to golf without the galleries, though the world No. 1 says the silence that meets his birdie putts took some getting used to.
The PGA Tour returned to action for the first time in three months amid the COVID-19 pandemic at the spectator-free Charles Schwab Challenge on Thursday.
McIlroy, 31, was tied for 39th after the opening day at Colonial Country Club but picked up the pace in the second round, flirting with the course record before taking a bogey at his last hole — the ninth.
He sits on nine-under 131, two strokes behind leader Harold Varner III.
“I think even yesterday, once we sort of got into the flow of the round, things started to become more normal,” McIlroy said.
“When that first birdie putt went in and I didn’t get a clap ... like my hand was trying to go up to wave to someone in the gallery, but there’s obviously no one there. But once you get into it, it’s the same.
“I’d love there to be fans here this week. I think this tournament deserves to have fans but hopefully we can get back to playing in front of some big crowds soon.”
Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford