A momentous eagle at the par-five eighth hole helped Rory McIlroy remain a factor at 2013 Masters Tournament on Friday, as the Northern Irish prodigy fired a two-under 70 in Round 2 at Augusta National.
McIlroy's solid effort had him just four strokes behind the pace set by leader Jason Day, who is at six-under overall through the first 36 holes.
Sky Sports Golf's official Twitter page highlighted the horrendous start that McIlroy experienced, which included an ugly three-putt at the opening hole amidst difficult, rainy conditions.
Rory McIlroy has started 5-5-5. Now +2 overall.— Sky Sports Golf (@SkySportsGolf) April 12, 2013
Another dropped shot at No. 3 was followed by four consecutive pars, and it looked as though McIlroy was fading into oblivion at Augusta for the third consecutive time.
From there, fortunes changed for the 23-year-old. A towering fairway metal at No. 8 got a favorable kick off the mounds of short grass that flanked the putting surface, and McIlroy's approach wound up within five feet of the cup.
Will Rory McIlroy contend on the weekend at the Masters?
He had been struggling on the greens to that point, but the world's second-ranked golfer wasn't about to let that opportunity slip by.
Steady play around the treacherous Amen Corner was capped off with another birdie at the short par-five 13th, courtesy of a spectacular short wedge approach.
McIlroy backed that up with another birdie at No. 14, displaying the swagger and ball-striking prowess that has gotten him to such significant heights in the game of golf.
Golf Channel's Jay Coffin expressed his excitement over the sudden surge:
Rory McIlroy makes consecutive birdies to get to 2 under, only 3 off the lead. This is quickly gettin' spicy.— Jay Coffin (@JayCoffinGC) April 12, 2013
Finding the putting surface was difficult for McIlroy in the blustery conditions early on, yet he once again showed that he can bounce back and grind out a tough round. His putting total dropped from 31 in the first round to 26, too.
When a setback occurred in the form of a bogey at the par-three 16th hole, McIlroy responded with a birdie at the last, using the slope as a backstop to set up an ideal birdie look that he poured in confidently.
The course was far more averse to yielding strong scores on Friday, so McIlroy's improvement on the scorecard is a testament to how well he hung tough. The slow start could have easily derailed his chances.
After the round, McIlroy emphasized how important that eagle at the eighth was to getting him started in the right direction, as documented by FOX Sports' Robert Lusetich:
Rory -4 thru final 11 holes & now t-8th. "The eagle on the 8th hole really got me going. 70 is a good score out there today." @the_masters— Robert Lusetich (@RobertLusetich) April 12, 2013
It is worth noting that McIlroy was in an even better position entering the weekend in 2012, as he sat just one shot off the second-round co-leaders. Rounds of 77 and 76 dipped McIlroy to a tie for 40th in the end.
Whether McIlroy can translate his generally improved form over the final 11 holes to the final two days remains to be seen, but everyone knows what he is capable of when he brings his A-game.
Below is a look at the top of the leaderboard as McIlroy prepares to make up ground in pursuit of his first green jacket and third leg of the career Grand Slam.