McIlroy eases Masters pain with birdie blitz to tie for lead
Rory McIlroy gave a clear demonstration today that his Masters heartache would not hang over him as he fired an eight-under-par round of 64 to join Alexander Noren at the top of the leaderboard at the Maybank Malaysia Open.
The Northern Irishman was brilliant for three rounds at Augusta last week before falling away in spectacular fashion as he relinquished a four-shot lead with a first major title in sight, and there had been fears his Masters collapse would have a psychological effect on him in the longer term.
McIlroy insisted last Sunday that he would not have a Masters hangover and has gone some way to proving it at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club this week, hitting eight birdies today in a bogey-free round which took him to 11 under after 36 holes.
He started on the 10th tee and rattled off three birdies in his first four holes, before following up with a cool 12-foot putt at the 16th and another three at the par-four 17th.
Coming home McIlroy added three more birdies to move alongside first-round leader Noren of Sweden, who fired a three-under-par round of 69 to add to his opening-day 64.
Asked whether his round had proved to him he was over his Masters misery, McIlroy told www.europeantour.com: "It would show more to everyone else other than myself that last week didn't set me back.
"I've started this week off great but I need to keep going and making birdies and shooting low scores if I want to win.
"Eleven under after two days here is a great effort considering I've travelled so far and not seeing the course. I'm happy with how I played."
Englishman Simon Dyson would also have been happy with his round, matching McIlroy's second-round score to move into third at 10 under.
Italian Matteo Manassero, who turns 18 next week, was second at the end of the first round at six under par but could not improve that total through nine holes of his second round, before thunderstorms forced the later starters from the course.
Scotland's Stephen Gallacher shot a two-under-par 70 to add to his first-day 67, which was good enough for a share of fourth place alongside Australian Brett Rumford at seven under.
New Masters champion Charl Schwartzel was in danger of missing the cut in Malaysia. He was one over par for the tournament through nine holes of his second round, while fellow South African Louis Oosthuizen - the 2010 Open champion - was just one under par at the halfway point of his round.