Following an 80-minute fog delay earlier in the day, McIlroy was among the players who found themselves waiting on tees on the back nine at the Surrey venue before it turned farcical in the fading light.
By the time McIlroy’s group - it also included Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg - got to the 17th hole, there were three others waiting there and it was the same at the 18th, where no less than five groups were on that hole at one point.
Thanks to making a birdie there, McIlroy moved just inside the projected cut line, though, with nine groups still to finish, the Race to Dubai leader won’t know until Saturday morning if he’s definitely made it through to the weekend.
“It was a shitshow,” declared McIlroy after signing for a 71. “The fog obviously delayed things, but I've never remembered having that many players on 17 and 18.
“It's not as if they teed us off in tighter slots or anything. We're the last group to maybe get done (one more actually did), so we were maybe fortunate that way, but it's hard for me trying to play the last well and make the cut - it was a bit of a mad dash and a scramble to get finished.”
Defending champion Shane Lowry, Tommy Fleetwood and Sepp Straka were in the last group to finish, putting out as the 18th green was illuminated by a giant scoreboard. “I don't think I've ever finished in the pitch back black,” said Fleetwood afterwards. “It was nice to have the screen on the last one and just trickle one in and tap in.”
Led by Aberg, who added a 66 to his opening 68 to share the lead with Swede Sebastian Soderberg on ten-under-par, Luke Donald’s Ryder Cup dozen all looked set to be in action in the final 36 holes in the Rolex Series event.
“I've had four 5am wake-up calls in a row this week, so today felt nice and, if I had to have another 5am tomorrow (to get finished), it would have been not great, so thankfully we got in and glad that I birdied the last and give myself an opportunity to play the last couple of rounds.”
In a dramatic last hour or so, Ryder Cup vice captain Thomas Bjorn exchanged words with a drunken spectator on the 18th hole while Scottish duo Connor Syme and Richie Ramsay were both left licking their wounds after sore finishes.
Maintaining his recent good form, Syme missed a short birdie putt at the 17th to move into the outright lead at that point on ten under before running up a tousy double-bogey 7 at the last while Ramsay finished bogey-bogey to slip back to five under alongside Calum Hill.
After taking route 66 on day two, Fleetwood sits in a group on nine under that also includes Pole Adrian Meronk, who was controversially overlooked for the Ryder Cup. “Well, it feels like it,” he replied to being asked if he was a man on a mission, “but I have moved on.”