Rory McIlroy in contention at Augusta despite bad luck on 18 as Shane Lowry endures a day to forget
Rory McIlroy's quest to become the sixth player to win a career grand slam by claiming this weekend's US Masters remains a possibility.
The 27-year-old carded a 73 today in difficult condition to drop to one over par and five shots of the lead. His plight wasn't helped by the fact that he only hit five out of 14 fairways.
For the second day running, McIlroy birdied the first and was level par at the turn after carding three bogeys, three birdies and three pars.
He missed a par putt from three feet on 12 but clawed that back with a beautifully-played birdie on 17.
The world number hit a perfect drive on 18 but disaster struck when his pinpoint approach struck the flag and flew off the green.
He had to settle for a bogey and a one over par total going into the weekend.
"It looked like it was going to be a tap-in birdie and I end up making five," McIlroy told Sky Sports. "It was two bad breaks because the wind then caught me out on the putt as well and made it go uphill.
"These things happen. I just have to birdie the first tomorrow and all will be forgotten.
"I feel I can put a 31 or 32 together a couple of times over the weekend and get closer to the leaders. Hopefully these are the toughest conditions we have played in and hopefully I can go a lot lower over the weekend."
It was a lot worse for Shane Lowry.
The Offaly star's Masters race looks to be run.
He dropped eight shots in his opening 10 holes and could only reel one back in his closing seven holes when he birdied the Par 5 13th.
He lies just outside the projected cut line of six over par and must wait for the afternoon starters to see if he makes it to the weekend.
The top 50 players and ties, plus anyone within 10 of the lead, qualify for the last two rounds.
The tournament is led by Lowry's playing partner Sergio Garcia, seeking his first major, after he shot a terrific 69 in the blustery conditions and overnight leader Charley Hoffman.
The American did get to eight under at one stage in his round a run of five bogeys is six holes between sixth and the 11th cut the legs from under him. He pulled a shot back at 13 to card a 75.
More to follow