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Rory McIlroy targets fast start to third round after unlucky finish to his second round

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, hits a shot on the seventh hole during the second round of the Masters golf tournament Friday, April 7, 2017, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum).
Martin McGoran

RORY McIlroy is targeting a fast start to his third round of the Masters to erase the memory of a costly stroke of bad luck on day two at Augusta National.

McIlroy added a 73 to his opening 72 after his approach to the 18th clattered into the pin and rebounded 20 yards off the green.

The four-time major winner, who needs to win the Masters to complete the career grand slam, hit a superb pitch to three feet but missed the par putt to leave himself five shots off the clubhouse lead.

"It looked like it was going to be a tap-in birdie and I end up making five," the 27-year-old said. "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'm disappointed to finish like that, but I'm still within five of the lead going into the weekend with better conditions on the way. I still feel like I'm right in this tournament.

"If I can put together a 67 or a 66 tomorrow, I feel like I'll be right in there for Sunday.

"Even just being in position going into Sunday, I know more than most what can happen on Sundays around here, good and bad. I've shot 66 in the last round and I shot 80 (in 2011 when starting with a four-shot lead)."

McIlroy was second at the halfway stage 12 months ago before seeing his challenge falter with a 77 on Saturday, but he added: "Last year I was more in defence mode rather than attack.

"It's a completely different mindset going out there to make birdies rather than not to make bogey."

McIlroy has played just 16 competitive rounds in 2017 after being sidelined for seven weeks with a rib injury, but believes he is more than capable of producing the low score he needs.

"In those 16 competitive rounds I've shot a couple of 65s and I shot a few good numbers, so it's right there," he added.

"Obviously, it's easier said than done around this golf course, but when you take advantage of the par fives, pick up a few others, there's something in the mid-60s, and it would be a great score to go into Sunday with."

At the top of the leaderboard, there was a four-way tie, as first round leader Charley Hoffman failed to replicate his blistering day one form. His 75 dropped him back to four-under par and a share of the lead with Sergio Garcia (69), Thomas Pieters (68) and Rickie Fowler (67).

Shane Lowry had a day to forget, a 79 means he misses the cut after a promising start.

 

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