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McIlroy's Grand Slam hopes fade before weekend at Augusta

Shane Lowry is ‘gutted’ meanwhile as he looks to be heading home.

Image: Charlie Riedel

THE GRAND SLAM club won’t have to worry about making room for a new member.

Not this week, anyway.

Rory McIlroy arrived at Augusta National hoping to become only the sixth player in the modern era to win all four of golf’s biggest events.

He was already in trouble after Day 1, shooting a 1-under 71 that left him seven shots off the lead. By the time McIlroy teed off Friday, he was facing a double-digit deficit to the leader, Jordan Spieth.

Playing like he knew he had no chance, McIlroy made three bogeys and a double-bogey on the way to a 4-over 40 on the front side. At that point, he was trailing Spieth by a staggering 17 strokes. His focus turned to playing well enough on the back side to at least earn make the cut and continue playing this weekend.

As for the career Grand Slam, that will have to wait until next year at Augusta.

With McIlroy’s pursuit on hold, the Grand Slam focus turns back to Phil Mickelson. He, too, is missing only one title from his resume — the next one on the schedule, the US Open in June.

Shane Lowry had more modest goals come to Augusta for the first time but he too looks to be disappointed.

The Offaly native was level par today and +3 for the tournament but he’ll be packing his bags it seems.

Pádraig Harrington did not enjoy his return to the famous old course – he was +5 today and will head down Magnolia Lane with Lowry.

Tiger Woods meanwhile produced his best golf of the year to date, firing a three-under par 69 in the second round of the Masters.

The four-time former winner walked off the course with a two-under total of 142, comfortably making the cut for the weekend, although he stood an imposing 12 shots off the pace set by Jordan Spieth.

Woods called a timeout on himself in mid February to work on putting his crumbling game back together and was in doubt until the Friday before Masters week, when he played a practice round at Augusta National.

Prior to his break from competition, the 14-time major champion had endured a career-worst 82 at Phoenix and a withdrawal through back pain after 11 holes at Torrey Pines.

The 39-year-old former world number one had four birdies against one bogey today and, while, his driving was at time wayward, he looked far more comfortable with his hitherto suspect short-game.

More to follow

- © AFP, 2014, Associated Press

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