Masters 2012: Rory McIlroy Is Poised for a Leap to Top of the Leaderboard
Last year, Rory McIlroy was riding high by the time Day 3 rolled around.
This year, with all of the attention centered on Fred Couples, Jason Dufner and Lee Westwood, he has the luxury of sneaking into first place. And seeing as he enters the third-round action at Augusta just one stroke off the lead, he's in prime position to get the job done.
McIlroy is currently tied for third place at four strokes under, joining the likes of Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen and Lee Westwood. It's been a steady climb for him after a rough start to the first round and a very solid performance in the second.
As he learned very well last year, a fast start gets you nowhere, so he likes where he's sitting right now.
The pressure facing McIlroy entering this year's Masters was enough to break any 22-year-old, and it nearly did, judging from the way his first round began. He double-bogeyed the first hole, but quickly righted the ship with a birdie, then did the same on the eighth and ninth holes to finish the front nine with a one-under 35. The back nine proved to be a challenge as well—he bogeyed the 11th and 13th—but birdies on the final two holes left him with a one-under 71 on the day.
Round 2 is where McIlroy really began to do his damage. He was cruising after three birdies on the front nine, and even despite a coupe of bogeys at the beginning and the end of the back nine, he finished the second day at three-under.
McIlroy is steadily improving as the tournament wears on. Now, he needs just one stroke to tie Couples and Dufner atop the leaderboard. Yet he refused to get ahead of himself. He saw firsthand the kind of damage that can do when he entered last year's final found with a four-stroke lead. A lack of focus can make it all slip away very quickly.
But he also knows it can happen to Couples and Dufner, and he knows how to avoid it.
After Friday's second round, McIlroy refused to look ahead to the top of the leaderboard. Instead, he focused on himself, on what he needs to do to get there. He told the Golf Channel's Jay Coffin:
I wouldn't say I'm in a position to win yet, but we'll see what happens [on Saturday]. It will definitely be nice to feel like I'm in a good position going into Sunday. I feel like I've played solid golf the last two days. Could have been a couple shots better, like probably everyone in the field is thinking.
McIlroy isn't yet focusing on everything he's done right. Knowing that he still has two rounds to surge ahead, he's focusing on the areas in which he can improve. And this year, lucky for him, he doesn't have to deal with the pressure of being the early leader.
He's in a good position, but not good enough. Fortunately, given all of the mistakes he made last year, he knows how to be good enough, and it doesn't involve complacency.
Last year, McIlroy learned that fast starters don't win the race. That honor is reserved for the slow and steady contenders, and that's exactly what he is this year.
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?