Rory McIlroy shot 71 on Friday at Augusta National Golf Club to reach the 36-hole mark of The Masters on three-under-par and well within range of leader Jordan Spieth.
McIlroy is a green jacket shy of winning the career grand slam and in 2011 he threw away a four-shot lead with a Sunday round of 80, while Charl Schwartzel birdied the last four holes to win.
On Friday the Northern Irishman was in the hunt once again, despite the gusty conditions making scoring difficult.
‘I’ve only got the mental capacity to focus on me right now, and especially how tough it is out there,’ McIlroy said. ‘Just focusing on myself, battling and grinding and digging deep when I need to.’
The world number three had a fast start with birdies at the second and third, but he found a greenside bunker at the par-three fourth hole and made a double bogey.
He dropped further shots at the fifth and 11th, but fought back on the stretch and birdied the 13th and 15th.
At the par-three 16th he had 39 feet for birdie, but drained the sweeping left-to-right putt to reach three-under-par for the tournament and went on to sign for 71.
This ball was tracking the whole way.
Rory McIlroy is solo second. https://t.co/RJCVkFHZRn
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) April 8, 2016
Ernie Els bowed out of the tournament with a Friday 73 that restored his confidence after he shot 80 in the first round. The Big Easy suffered a six-putt on the first hole of the tournament, which will take a long time to get over.