Press Association Rory McIlroy has played himself into title contention at the Valero Texas Open and is relishing the opportunity to push for victory this weekend. The world number two’s mission this week was to play himself into form ahead of the Masters, and Friday’s five-under-par 67 indicated he is back in the old groove. Billy Horschel, eight under after 36 holes, leads the way but McIlroy is only three shots back. “I’m looking forward to getting into contention. I haven’t really been in contention this year and it’ll be nice to get in the mix,” the Northern Irishman said. “I want to play well and know if I play well I’ll have a great chance to win.” He said of his third round: “I knew the conditions were good and you had to take advantage of it. I played solid, I drove the ball well, hit quite a lot of greens, and made some nice putts coming in. It gets me in a good position going into the weekend. I turned in one under par and felt I was playing better than that.” A run of three birdies from 16 to 18 reassured McIlroy, and the challenge will be to shoot another low round today. “I think I was rewarded for my patience out there,” he said. “It was a great way to finish and it’ll make dinner taste nicer and give me a few more hours in bed. I’m feeling comfortable with my game. I definitely feel like I made the right decision to come here, and even if I hadn’t been in this position and have been a few shots back I’d still feel the same way.” American Horschel leads from compatriots Charley Hoffman and Daniel Summerhays and Australian Steven Bowditch, all on six under. Dubliner Padraig Harrington had been four under after the opening round, but at one stage in his second 18 holes he slipped back to one under. Starting on the back nine, he dropped shots at 11, 13 and 17 before repairing much of the damage with birdies at the sixth and ninth lifting him to a 73 and a healthier three under. Scotland’s Martin Laird was also three under after a 71, with Englishmen Brian Davis and David Lynn steady on two under after their respective rounds of 72 and 70. Ireland’s Shane Lowry also carded a 72 to be two under through 36 holes. Ian Poulter and Charl Schwartzel just made the cut at one over after shooting rounds of 75 and 73 respectively.
By Vishani RagobeerYOU know him as ace footballer for the ‘Golden Jags’ or even as Bury FC midfield player, but Neil Danns is intent on showing his versatility by exploring the music scene.“I’ve been studying music production and engineering for the last couple of years,” Danns told the Chronicle Sport in an exclusive interview, adding “I’m still learning and progressing but I’m only just starting to get the confidence to put it out.”Initially, the footballer connected with music as a pastime, even though he always had a passion for music and writing.“I started off playing guitar for a hobby when I was in my early 20s and I always liked to write poetry and melodies,” he reflected. And so his musical journey started off with him fiddling around and just writing simple chord songs just for his own personal listening pleasure.He taught himself how to play the piano over the past few years – nothing too fancy – but just enough to help him create his own music and depth to his skills.His desire to develop his musical ambitions has been insatiable, however, and resultantly, he tried learning music engineering. “It’s just been gradual building,” he said modestly.It’s not his aim to be an artiste, at least not for the most part. Instead, he is aiming to just write and produce music.“I hope to work with aspiring artistes in the future … and it would be amazing to collaborate with some top Guyanese artistes out there in the future,” Danns noted.But even so, he’s putting a few tracks out there, just so that people would know that he knows his stuff and he’s good at it. In fact, he’s currently making one of his tracks available on Spotify and iTunes; it’s called ‘What you thinking’ and will come under his alias: Melodix.“When people hear my stuff it’s mostly a shock as a lot of people do not realise I play any instruments but I’m still a long way from where I want to get to; but I enjoy learning and improving in everything I have passion for,” he affirmed. “It takes a lot of hours and can be frustrating but that’s what makes it worth it when you make positive steps.”His endeavours in music, however, do not sidetrack from his finesse in football. He’s been involved in the game – professionally- for about 20 years, and that’s just not something he can stop being involved in.Moving into the music scene fulltime is a possibility, but only after he considers what options present themselves once he is retired.But Danns’ musical ambitions will be put on pause for a bit, as he prepares for Guyana’s historic showing at next month’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.Danns will be a key figure for Guyana, when they face defending champs USA on June 18, followed by last FIFA World Cup debutants Panama on June 22 then Trinidad and Tobago on June 26.