On Thursday, Rory McIlroy ended an otherwise solid day on a sour note, bogeying No. 18. On Friday, a putt for par on the same hole ensured the young star made the cut, albeit by the skin of his teeth.
Outside of that final putt, things couldn't have gone much worse for McIlroy in Round 2. He shot a five-over 77 for the day, leaving him 11 strokes behind leader Bubba Watson. Coming into the day, he seemed a few tweaks away from competing for a green jacket.
Now, finishing the tournament below par would be an achievement.
If you are looking for a bit of optimism, however, Justin Ray of ESPN has you covered:
But Matt Dickinson of The Times had a more somber appraisal of McIlroy as he survived that final hole:
From the get-go, McIlroy seemed a bit off, though earlier in the day he was able to recover. He bogeyed No. 2, but he shot a birdie on No. 3. On No. 4, his tee shot was so poor, he nearly struck Adam Scott.
From Golf World:
Dan Jenkins of Golf Digest reminisced about another famously poor shot from McIlroy's past at Augusta:
Still, he answered that shocking double bogey with a birdie on No. 5 before reaching par on four straight holes. It appeared he had weathered the storm.
But, oh, what a perfect storm it was. McIlroy fell apart at No. 10, falling prey to a double bogey, before bogeying No. 11 as well. He course-corrected slightly on the next hole with a par, but on No. 13, he somehow managed to hit one of the sprinklers just off the green, caroming his ball wildly into the shrubbery.
That left him with a, shall we say, scenic shot to get back on the green. From Yahoo! Sports:
As you might expect, the folks on Twitter had a bit of fun with McIlroy at that point. Tweeted Jenkins:
And Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal added:
As he did after his dreadful No. 4, however, the comically bad No. 13 seemed to calm him down, and he parred the final five holes to barely survive the cut. And for that, McIlroy deserves some credit. Despite having absolutely no luck on the day, despite the fact that basically anything that could go wrong did go wrong, despite the exasperation painted all over his face, McIlroy kept his composure and survived.
Heading into the weekend, McIlroy will need to pull on the same resolve that saved him on Friday and look to get back into this tournament. It seems unthinkable that he could come back and catch Watson—who went the first 26 holes of this unforgiving course without a bogey—but McIlroy has the ability to at least get below par and move up the leaderboard a bit.
At this point, McIlroy is playing for pride. And if he has a strong weekend, perhaps he can exorcise some of the demons that continue to circle him every time he steps on the course at Augusta.