Rory McIlroy is seven shots off the pace heading into the weekend but the four-time major champion feels he can still contend.
Rory McIlroy believes he can catapult himself back up the leaderboard after narrowly making the Masters cut on Friday.
Former world number one McIlroy played far from his best in the first two rounds at Augusta, where the Northern Irishman made the cut by three shots.
McIlroy is even par through 36 holes following his second-round 71 – seven shots adrift of leaders Brooks Koepka, Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott, Jason Day and Francesco Molinari.
“I think it’s just so bunched,” four-time major champion McIlroy said. “There’s so many guys with a chance coming into the last two days. So, if I can get off to a decent start tomorrow, shoot 33 or 32 on the front nine, I’m right back in it.”
McIlroy never quite found his footing in round two – tallying two birdies, an eagle and three bogeys, but he hit some good shots.
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“I’m happy to be where I’m at, especially having to get it up and down from 180 yards on the 15th to make par,” he said. “I played the last four in one under to sort of be safe for the weekend.
I was thinking, you know, staring bogey in the face at 15 and thinking I have to play the last three at even par just to make the cut. To be here on the weekend and only be seven back, I’m actually pretty pleased.”
McIlroy hit a 50-foot putt on the 16th hole to get back to even par on the back nine and sits tied for 36th, alongside the likes of Bubba Watson, Cameron Smith, March Leishman and Kevin Na.
“Yeah, just give me putts on 16 and I’ll take those,” he joked after his round.
McIlroy added: “I mean standing here I’m much happier tonight than I was last night coming off the course. I just bogeyed the last two holes, in comparison one under for the last four to get myself in for the weekend, thinking on the middle of the 15th fairway I have a realistic chance at not being here. So to get in and be seven back, I’m pretty happy.”