Three days after Tiger Woods said a Masters triumph was “definitely” in his future, Rory McIlroy looked set to miss the halfway cut at Augusta National.
McIlroy struggled to a hugely disappointing second round of 77 on Friday to finish five over par and declined to speak to waiting reporters.
The pre-tournament joint favourite was three shots outside the projected cut when he signed his card shortly before a 21-minute suspension in play due to the threat of lightning.
And the prospect of more bad weather hitting the course looked McIlroy’s best – albeit slim – chance of avoiding an early end to his ninth attempt to claim a green jacket and complete the career grand slam.
McIlroy’s hopes of playing his way back into contention following an opening 72 suffered a massive blow with bogeys on the second and third.
The four-time major winner flew his approach to the par-five second over the green and then hit two clumsy chips on the third before falling victim to a fiendish pin position on the sixth, where he hit his long, uphill birdie putt 12 feet past the hole and missed the return.
McIlroy’s miserable day continued as he clipped a tree with an attempted recovery shot on the seventh and found water with his approach to the 11th to drop a shot on each hole.
And, although he birdied the 13th and 15th to get within touching distance of the cut line, bogeys on the 16th and 18th left McIlroy needing plenty of help from elsewhere to be around for the weekend.