Rory McIlroy heads into the weekend of the 80th Masters just one shot behind faltering leader Jordan Spieth as scores soared on a brutally tough second day at Augusta National.McIlroy had got off to a flying start before a double-bogey on the fourth dropped him back. He picked up three birdies in four holes from the 13th in a battling 71 – one of only four sub-par rounds on day two.
Defending champion Spieth appeared to be heading for a sizeable halfway lead when he birdied two of the first three holes and opened up a five-stroke advantage over the field, but he incredibly four-putted the fifth and bogeyed nine, 10 and 16. He carded a 74 which was enough to retain the lead for the sixth Masters round in succession as only seven players in the 89-man field managed to complete 36 holes under par, with blustery conditions and firm and fast greens sending the average score well above 75.
McIlroy birded the second and third holes but He undid that good work when a poor tee-shot to the fourth led to a double-bogey five, and he let another shot go at the next before halting the slide with a run of five pars, although he then missed a six-footer for par at 11.He got back on track with two putts from distance for birdie at 13, and another gain at 15 was followed by a superb, hard-breaking putt at 16 which dropped for a rare two. After slicing his drive into the pine needles on the last McIlroy made a huge putt to save par which could yet be crucial in his quest to complete the golfing grand slam.
Amateur Bryson DeChambeau had the round of the day going as he defied the breezy conditions to get to four under for the day, and the tournament, with his sixth birdie at the 15th, but he also three putted 16 before getting into major difficulties at the last.He put his first drive out of bounds and then pulled his second towards the eighth fairway, eventually running up an ugly triple-bogey seven which sent him back to level par and a tie for eighth.
Shane Lowry fired an erratic 76 and slipped to level par overall.Elsewhere Paul Casey had a disastrous day as he bogeyed four of the last five holes to plummet to two over.
World number two Spieth will be partnered by McIlroy today as the race for the green jacket hots up.