It’s not over, believes Rory McIlroy, and no-one in the rest of the field cares that it’s him atop the leaderboard after two rounds at the BMW PGA Championship with a commanding three-shot lead while not playing quite as well as he might.
Better perhaps to take the testimony of playing partner and reigning champion Alex Noren after Mcilroy picked apart the West Course yesterday for a seven-under 65 to take him to 12-under after 36 holes.
“That’s the best round I’ve ever seen,” said the Swede. “I’m about to quit golf, I think. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that. It’s just shot after shot after shot.”
It could be the canny Swede trying to lull McIlroy into a false sense of security. Noren did, after all, haul in Australia’s Andrew Dodt last year from seven shots in arrears with a final round 62. One suspects, at a mere five strokes back with 36 holes still to play, he’s not waving the white flag just yet.
But it’s unlikely to waver McIlroy either, as he knows what can happen in the sort of muggy, moist weekend we’re promised here; the sort of frustration that caused Thomas Pieters to snap a club shaft behind his neck after an errant shot. Don’t try that at home, folks.
And of course McIlroy himself made up seven shots on Thomas Bjorn on his way to his 2014 victory in this championship.
“Jeez, I could go out and shoot two more 65s over the weekend and still get beaten,” he reasoned after his round. “You can’t expect to win. All I expect is to out there and control what I can control.
“Does my name on the leaderboard send a message? Not really, I played two good rounds of golf, I’ll need another two to win. I don’t think anyone cares if my name’s on the leaderboard or anyone else’s.”
And McIlroy adds with some conviction that he doesn’t feel entirely comfortable with his game yet, although obviously he’s nearing that point every day.
“I’m still missing a shot here and there,” he said, and indeed he did miss three glaring birdie chances on the first three holes and didn’t birdie either of the closing par fives.
“I was 21 holes into the tournament so I wasn’t upset, I knew there were more chances to come,” he continued. “And I’ve made four pars (on the final two holes) when I really should be making at least, two birdies, but I played the other par fives well.
“It all balances itself out, but I would to play those two holes a little better tomorrow.”
Perhaps the ominous thing is that McIlroy is seeing so many chances, and that his putting seems so on point. He has trended towards overwhelming streaks of success at his best and it feels like one is brewing, like it did in 2014.
“There was a bit of a flow going on in the back nine,” he said. “I was hitting good shots and good putts and got a little bit of momentum and that went with me.
“But I still feel like there’s a bit of work to do. There were a couple of loose shots out there, so it’s still not 100 per cent where I want it, but it’s getting there. It’s going in the right direction.”
The other benefit, of course, is that he is no longer hampered by the rib injury that plagued him throughout last year.
“It makes a huge difference, to know I’m going to be able to stand and hit balls all day and it won’t affect me, it won’t hurt me and I won’t feel the effects of it next day,” he said.
“You take that for granted when you’re not injured, and because that’s what we need to do, we need to stand on the range hit balls and get comfortable. And if you can get enough repetitions all this out here becomes a little bit easier.”
Sam Horsfield, the winner of the Tour’s Qualifying School last November, is the man closest to McIlroy and actually has more momentum going, standing at ten-under for the 27 holes since the turn on Thursday.
The 21-year-old certainly recognises who it is three shots ahead of him.
“I think any time you’re playing on the weekend and you’re up there near Rory, I think you’re going to be doing pretty well,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to tomorrow, whether I am playing with Rory or whoever, I’m going to go out there and give it my all.”
The threat to McIlroy may yet come from the proven winners behind him like Tommy Fleetwood, who cruised into third on his own with a 66, or Noren, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, or even Branden Grace and his old friend Graeme McDowell – making a significant bid to relinquish the vice-captaincy duties for the Ryder Cup he assumed only on Tuesday with rounds of 71 and 67.