AUGUSTA, Ga. – On Thursday, Rory McIlroy was 4 under through 15 holes and appeared poised to take his spot near the top of the Round 1 Masters leaderboard before an uncharacteristic lapse.
The Northern Irishman bogeyed two of his last three holes for a 2-under 70 that left him four strokes off the pace.
On Friday, McIlroy flipped that dynamic with a late surge that put him within striking distance of the lead with three birdies at Nos. 13, 15 and 16.
McIlroy salvaged an under par round with his 11th-hour heroics for a 1-under 71 that lifted him into second place, just one stroke off the lead held by Jordan Spieth.
The No. 2 and 3 players in the world will play together in the final pairing Saturday.
“I probably would have taken three pars to finish and I would have been happy. The birdie on 16 was a bit of a bonus, and then a great up and down on 18, too, for par,” McIlroy said. “I’m definitely feeling a lot better about myself after finishing this round of golf the way I did compared to how I finished the round yesterday.”