The omens did not look good for Rory McIlroy as he looked to get his bid for the career grand slam back on track on a damp day two of the 83rd Masters.
McIlroy struggled to an opening 73 at Augusta National on Thursday, getting under par for the first time with birdies on the 13th, 15th and 16th, only to bogey the last two holes.
That left the Northern Irishman in a tie for 44th place overnight and needing to defy the odds to win a first green jacket as the last 13 Masters winners all enjoyed a place in the top 10 after the first round.
27 of the last 28 Masters champions were inside the top-10 after the 2nd round. 4 of the last 5 held the 36-hole lead or co-lead.— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) 12 April 2019
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Equally significantly, McIlroy finished seven shots behind the leading pair of Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau, with Phil Mickelson a shot off the pace, and Ian Poulter and Dustin Johnson another stroke back on a high-quality leaderboard.
Former champion Adam Scott and Spain’s Jon Rahm were part of a group on three under, with 14-time major winner Tiger Woods in a tie for 11th place on two under with the likes of Francesco Molinari and Jason Day.
McIlroy headed straight to the putting green following his round after struggling to read putts on the slower surfaces, saying: “I made five birdies, that wasn’t the problem. I just made too many mistakes.
“And I’m making mistakes from pretty simple positions, just off the side of the green on 17 and 18 being prime examples of that.”
McIlroy faced a long wait to begin his second round in the final group due out at 1400 local time (1900 BST), by which time the size of his task would likely become clear.
DeChambeau, Mickelson and Koepka were due out in consecutive groups starting at 1042 local time (1542 BST), with former world number one Johnson alongside DeChambeau.