By Larry Fine
PARAMUS New Jersey (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy blamed a first-round 74 on a lack of preparation, but after putting in extra time on the range, the Northern Irishman came out firing on Friday and put himself into contention at The Barclays.
The world number one fired a six-under-par 65 in the second round at Ridgewood Country Club to stand five shots behind co-leaders Adam Scott and American Cameron Tringale.
"The work that I did yesterday on the range really helped, just sort of got back into the rhythm and into the flow of things," McIlroy said of his post-round practice.
"I don't think I missed a green on the front nine (today). I knew that my game was there and I just needed to take advantage of the chances I was giving myself."
McIlroy, 25, said after Thursday's round that he had not regained his focus after a week celebrating his brilliant run of three successive wins including the British Open and PGA Championship titles.
"I was asked yesterday after I played, if you're going to battle to make the cut or whatever. I said missing the cut isn't an option," McIlroy said.
"I know how well I am playing and how comfortable I am with my game, so even to miss a cut feeling like that would have felt really bad.
"So that's why I put a little bit extra effort in yesterday and this morning and made sure I was ready to go out there this afternoon."
McIlroy was especially pleased with his par-fives on the back nine, using his new three-wood to set up a pair of birdies, and was looking forward to the weekend.
"It's a very bunched leaderboard. I'm still five shots behind but there's a lot of players between me and the leaders," he added.
"So I'm going to have to shoot a couple of rounds similar to today to maybe win this thing."
(Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Ian Ransom)