AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) – Rory McIlroy gave his quest for a career grand slam a boost by grabbing a share of the second round clubhouse lead at the U.S. Masters on Friday while former champion Tiger Woods was flirting with the cutline.
McIlroy, who with a win this week would be only the sixth player to win each of golf’s four majors, shot a one-under par 71 on a tough scoring day at windy Augusta National that brought him to four under for the tournament.
“A little disappointed walking off the 18th green. I had two good chances on 17 and 18 that I didn’t convert, but overall, 71 out there today was a pretty good score and obviously in a nice position going into the weekend,” said McIlroy.
The 28-year-old Northern Irishman was joined atop the leaderboard by former champion Jordan Spieth (74), whose two back-nine birdies helped erase some of the damage caused after a rough start that included a double-bogey at the first.
McIlroy and Spieth were one shot clear of world number one Dustin Johnson, who birdied the last to reach the clubhouse at four-under par 68.
A further shot off the pace were 2017 runner-up Justin Rose (70), Rickie Fowler (72) Masters rookie Tony Finau (74) and South African Louis Oosthuizen (71).
Still on the course was leader Patrick Reed, who was eight-under for the tournament after a sizzling opening nine holes that included six birdies and one bogey.
Woods fell to four over par after a rough front nine that included a bogey and double-bogey and left him sitting one shot inside the cutline, which is projected to be five over par.
The former world number one was considered a favorite to collect a fifth Green Jacket after showing impressive form this year in his comeback from injury but had nothing going his way early in his second round.
After a bogey at the opening hole, Woods made a double-bogey at the par-four fifth hole where he took a penalty drop from an unplayable lie after sending his second shot into the bushes to the left of the green.
Sitting right on the projected cutline is three-times winner Phil Mickelson who had a triple-bogey, double-bogey, four bogeys and two birdies for a seven-over-par 79.
Sergio Garcia, whose 81 on Thursday was the worst opening-round score by a defending champion, was unlikely to make it to the weekend as he was two over through his first nine holes on Friday.
Reporting by Frank Pingue, editing by Pritha Sarkar