Rory McIlroy has proven that he is here to stay.
The 21-year-old Irishman has shown the world he can play with the best, but after following up his opening round 63 in the British Open with a big fat 80, some still had their doubts.
However, there was no 80 in McIlroy’s plan this Friday at Augusta. The only thing is Rory's plan was another day of solid golf. After a slow start to 2010, the Irishman is not wasting any time in 2011.
He birdied two out of the first five holes on his way to finishing his first nine with 33. McIlroy suffered his first bogey of the tournament on 12, but was able to bounce back almost instantaneously with a birdie on 13. Rory’s three-under 69 has allowed him to maintain his two-stroke lead going into the weekend.
McIlroy’s playing partner, Jason Day, carded the low round of the tournament on Friday. Day birdied 13, 14, 16 and 18 down the stretch to put him in contention just two strokes behind McIlroy. (He birdied 13, 14, and 16 on Thursday also)
Day’s 64 has skyrocketed him up the leaderboard and has given him sole possession of second place. After Day was four-over on par 4 on Thursday, he recovered with a masterful five-under on par 4 on Friday.
Despite Jason Day’s low round, it was Tiger Woods who truly stole the show. Woods managed five birdies on the back nine on his way to a six-under 66. Tiger has put himself in an excellent position going into the weekend, only three shots back.
“I’m three back. I’m right where I need to be,” Woods said. “Hopefully tomorrow I can piece together another good round.”
For those of you who thought the reign of Woods is over; it’s clear that his career is far from done. Tiger showed that he is still the Tiger of old, and that you still cannot count him out of any tournament, regardless of how far he’s behind. Quite frankly, Tiger being three shots back is a whole lot different than anybody else being three shots back.
But young Rory is not afraid of the best our generation has ever seen. Despite Tiger’s terrific play on Friday, McIlroy is still the one to beat. With only one bogey in two rounds, it is clear that he won’t be giving up his lead.
It’s up to Tiger to catch him. If history has taught us anything, Woods better start catching him fast. The man with 97 career victories, including 14 majors, has still never been able to come back to win a major on Sunday.
This is bound to be another incredible weekend at Augusta.