With only two chances left to record his first win of 2013, Rory McIlroy appears poised to make the most of his penultimate opportunity in Australia.
McIlroy carded nine birdies Friday en route to a 7-under 65 in Sydney, and at 10-under 134 sits alone in second place, just two shots off the pace heading into the weekend at the Emirates Australian Open.
"It's nice when it's like this, when you feel like you can fire at pins, you can be aggressive and you can give yourself plenty of chances for birdies," McIlroy told reporters after carding the low round of the day at Royal Sydney Golf Club.
The Ulsterman is now in position to contend for his first title in more than a year, but to do so he'll have to go through Adam Scott, who is looking to win in his native land for the fourth straight week. Scott claimed the Australian PGA Championship and Talisker Masters earlier this month before joining with Jason Day to win the team portion of the World Cup last week at Royal Melbourne, and will now take a two-shot advantage into the third round, which he will play alongside McIlroy.
Though he faces a tall task in overtaking the reigning Masters champion on his home turf, McIlroy remains eager to end an otherwise disappointing campaign on a high note as he looks to move back toward his former perch atop the world rankings.
"I feel like my game's in good shape," said McIlroy, who will make his final start of the year at the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge next week. "After not making the Tour Championship in the States, it was all about trying to build momentum for 2014, and that's what I feel like I've started to do."