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ory McIlroy is confident he is in contention to win a Masters title for the first time in his career after a battling second performance at the Augusta International.

As a gusting wind made scoring conditions difficult, McIlroy carded a second-consecutive 73 for a halfway total of two over par, three shots behind clubhouse leaders Charl Schwartzel and Sungjae Im.

“I’m in a decent position,” McIlroy said. “I’d like to be a couple of shots better at least, but I’m still right there. You go out tomorrow and you play a decent front nine and all of a sudden you’re right in the thick of things.

“I do enjoy the challenge. Yeah, this is what major championship golf is all about. It’s not easy and it’s not supposed to be easy. I think the conditions look pretty similar tomorrow as well, so looking forward to that.”

McIlroy’s challenge looked to be unravelling when he bogeyed the 10th and ran up a double bogey six on the 11th, hardly ideal preparation with the treacherous par-three 12th next up.

Tiger Woods was trying to steady the ship as winds threatened to blow his Masters comeback off course as he reached the midway point of the second round on Friday five shots back of clubhouse leaders Charl Schwartzel and Im Sung-jae.

Back in action this week after a February 2021 car accident nearly cost him his right leg, Woods set the golf world alight on Thursday when he posted a one-under 71 to crank up expectations.

As Woods began his second round, rather than the leg giving him problems it was the challenging windy conditions that troubled the 46-year-old. He stumbled to bogeys on four of his five opening holes, including three straight from the third.

Three-over walking onto the sixth tee and sliding dangerously close to the projected four-over cut line, Woods regrouped with nervy pars on the sixth and seventh holes before finally collecting his first birdie of the day at the eighth. The five-times Masters champion moved into the turn at three-over for his round. It was the kind of day where golfers were in full survival mode. Im, who led Cameron Smith by one shot overnight, saw his advantage quickly disappear with bogey at the first and it was a battle the rest of day for the South Korean who hit four more bogeys for a two-over 74.

Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion, was one of the very few golfers able to get to grips with the tough conditions. He posted what so far stands up as the round of the day, a three-under 69.

“Par is a great score,” said South African Schwartzel. “I think if you shoot level par around here in these conditions, you are playing good golf. It was tough.

“I think we had a little fortune this morning. It was very cold but we didn’t deal with a lot of wind for the first five or six holes.

“It got hard.”

Sitting one back of the leaders are 2020 Masters champion Dustin Johnson (73) and Harold Varner III (71) who is enjoying his first visit to Augusta National.

Additional reporting from Reuters

Source: DUK News

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