Augusta, 07 April: Rory McIlroy started the week wanting to avoid falling behind by too much. A 69 on Thursday helped Rory stay in the mix, even as Jordan Spieth stole the Masters thunder yet again. In just his 17th round at Augusta National, Jordan ended the day leading the field by two – it was his seventh round in the lead at the hallowed grounds.
On Friday, as the two men got off to a start in their respective groups, the wind was swirling in Augusta. After a cold start to the tournament, the temperature had picked up too.
The two golfers started the day on the back foot – more so Spieth. The American made an unseemly double bogey at the first hole to fall back to four under.
Rory went to bed at three under, three behind Spieth. The bogey at the first dropped him to two under, but he was nearer his rival. The two men are in a race to complete their respective career grand slams.
Spieth needs to win the PGA Championship. McIlroy could do it this week by winning the Masters.
The Northern Irishman bounced back with a birdie at the second, while Spieth conceded another bogey. The two men were bound together on the leaderboard at 3-under at the stage.
By the time they made the turn, the two of them had conceded some ground again, slipping to 2-under. McIlroy made birdies at the 13 & 14 while Spieth took his turn at the 14th and 15th holes.
And they brought it home without any further damage to end the second round at an even 140. McIlroy has scores of 69 and 71, while Spieth has a more uneven 66 and 74.
“Yeah, the conditions today were a little more difficult than they were yesterday. You know, the breeze was up a little bit. I felt like the pin positions were a little tougher. It was tough to get it close to some of those pins,” said McIlroy.
“So, yeah, I’m pretty happy with how I started. There was a few birdies and a few bogeys thrown in there, but I steadied the ship after the sixth hole,” he added. “Didn’t make a bogey after that. Made a couple of birdies. I feel like I could have shot another round in the 60s.”
Spieth was not impressed with the start, but was positive about the rest of his round.
“I just had two really bad tee shots to start the day the first two holes, and then the course was very difficult today. The conditions made it challenging, as well. I felt like I hit some really good shots on a lot of holes and just got kind of gusted by an opposite wind, or were one or two yards away from being phenomenal,” explained Spieth. “Therefore, I didn’t have very many really good birdie looks. I only had, you know, less than half a dozen, four or five decent birdie looks the entire round.”
As the winds calmed down, Patrick Reed, Marc Leishman and Charlie Hoffman were out on the grounds trying to steal the show from their more illustrious opponents.
Reed was 8-under at the turn, but a bogey at the 10th dropped him back to four under for the day, 7-under with eight to play. Leishman made a hattrick of birdies to start his round and held steady from there. After ten straight pars, he was five under through the 12th hole. Hoffman started his day with a bogey but has made three birdies since then, 5-under now through the 10th hole.