Glimmer of hope for McIlroy
Rory McIlroy just about kept his hopes of completing the career grand slam alive thanks to a brilliant finish to his second round in the 79th Masters.
McIlroy was an incredible 17 shots off the lead when he covered the front nine in 40 on Friday, but came home in 31 with four birdies, an eagle and one bogey to card a second consecutive 71.
That left the world number one on two under par and 12 shots behind runaway leader Jordan Spieth, whose halfway total of 130 set a new Masters record.
"I wish I did not have to play a back nine like that to get two under for the tournament," McIlroy told ESPN. "Just wasteful on the front nine, missed a couple of very short putts and was a little uncomfortable on the greens.
"I'm really proud of myself the way I fought back and to shoot five under was a good effort and I am going to need four more like that it looks like."
McIlroy recovered from a bogey on the first with a birdie on the second, but then dropped shots on the fifth and seventh before running up a double-bogey six on the ninth.
After a birdie on the 10th, McIlroy holed from just two feet for eagle on the 13th before missing from similar distance for par on the next, but birdied the 15th, chipped in on the 17th and finished in style with another birdie on the last.
"It was nice to hole that and get some sort of momentum," McIlroy added. "Going into the weekend I am going to have to go out there and get off to a really fast start and post a couple of low scores to have any chance.
"Jordan has played two phenomenal rounds of golf and does not look like he is going to let up. I have left myself an uphill battle but I will try my best at the weekend."
McIlroy insisted his performance was not down to the pressure of trying to achieve the grand slam at the first attempt, adding: "(It was) not a factor at all, to be honest.
"Any of the bad golf, the bad shots I hit out there the last couple of days, I can't put that down to what it would mean or what I was playing for. I'm just trying to go out there and play the best golf I possibly can and that's about it."
Asked if he still thought he could win, he added: " I would need to shoot a 14‑under-par weekend and Jordan would have to play a couple of average rounds, and neither of those two things look like they're going to happen, so it's going to be tough.
"I'll go out and try and play the best that I can and we'll see where that leaves me. But, a few more nine holes like the one I just had there, you never know."