Late birdie charge keeps McIlroy’s fading hopes alive at Augusta

Peter Finnan

Rory McIlroy (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

It was Rory McIlroy’s turn to dazzle the Augusta patrons albeit late in his round on the second day of the Masters.

McIlroy stepped onto the first tee sporting the same ‘hot pink’ shirt that his fellow Nike ambassadors did a day earlier.  He dazzled by splitting the fairway up the first and then for a second day running birdied the par-5 second hole, and aptly named ‘Pink Dogwood’.

As the day progressed it seemed the round and indeed the tournament was slipping away from Mcilroy as he dropped shots on the 5th and 10th followed by a double at the 11th but the five time Major champion kicked into gear from the 13th picking up two birdies on the way home and posting a hard fought second round 73.

“It’s really tough out there” said McIlroy after his round. “It’s gusty. It’s hard to commit to a number because the wind’s so much up and down.

“So I was just trying to take the ball out of the air as much as possible. But the greens are getting firm as well, so then it makes it hard to stop it on the green. So it’s a tough challenge. Being okay with hitting to 30 feet and taking two putts and making pars, that’s sort of the name of the game out there today.”

Despite the mid-round dropped shots, McIlroy was still more than happy with his recovery in the last six holes.

“That was a soft couple of holes on 10 and 11, giving away three shots,” admitted McIlroy. “Then to play the last seven in 2-under was really nice. I hit the ball very well coming in. I felt like I left a couple out there too. I had a few chances.”

It’s McIlroys eighth stint at chasing the career Grand Slam and despite dropping back to a tie for 23rd he still remains positive facing into a weekend that is sure to test the patience of the field.

“I do enjoy the challenge. Yeah, this is what major championship golf is all about. It’s not easy, and it’s not supposed to be easy. I think the conditions look pretty tough tomorrow as well, so looking forward to that.

“Today was one of those days that, even the ten-footers are sort of difficult because the wind’s gusting and you’re thinking, is it going to affect the putt? Is it not? And just getting settled over it. Just one of those days in these conditions where it unsettles you a little bit and puts a little bit of doubt in your mind. That’s when golf can become really difficult.”

The Holywood man also spoke of the need for maturity around Augusta National after the round and he’ll be hoping to draw on his past experience and get into the mix come Sunday.

“Yeah, it’s maturity. It’s experience. It’s walking away 13 years in a row empty handed. So it’s like, eh, it’s just sort of go out and play and see what happens.”

McIlroy will tee it up with Seb Straka at 17:20 on Saturday needing some fireworks to reignite his Grand Slam hopes knowing Augusta National

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