Friday, 08 April 2011
Rory McIlroy  (Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy (Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy continued to roar at Augusta National and will take a two stroke lead into the third round of The Masters Tournament. 

The 21 year old Northern Irishman, trying to become the second youngest winner of the title after Tiger Woods, added a 69 to his brilliant opening 65.

Now, from joint leader with Spaniard Alvaro Quiros after day one, he is ten under par and two in front of fellow young gun Jason Day after the 23 year old Australian fired a spectacular 64.

But look who is also right in there - Tiger Woods joint third with Korean KJ Choi on seven under after a nine-birdie 66 and last year's runner-up Lee Westwood two further back following a 67.

Woods even looked in danger of missing the cut at level par after seven, but then came a hat-trick of birdies around the turn, three more in a row from the 13th and another to finish for good measure.

Whatever happens over the closing 36 holes, however, there will be no need in the future for McIlroy to fear a second round repeat of last summer's Open Championship when he followed a 63 with an 80 at St Andrews.

McIlroy insists he is just going to ignore the chasing superstars and concentrate on playing the course.

"If I start thinking about anybody else it could cost you a couple of shots," he said. "I don't really care what anybody else does. I don't need to know.

"It would be great for the tournament if Tiger is up there, but I am in a better position and I feel comfortable.

"I didn't hole as many putts as I would have liked on the back nine, but I can't really complain - I am in the lead going into the third round of The Masters."

Asked if he felt ready to win his first Major he replied: "Of course!"

Four-time winner Woods, without a victory since November 2009, said: "I just kept staying patient and got hot. Now I'm right where I need to be.

"Hopefully tomorrow I can piece together another good round and plod along."

Westwood is five back and remembers losing from five ahead of everybody last year.

"I know how quickly a five shot lead can evaporate," he said. "It's part of the value of being experienced - you've got to be patient and expect the unexpected really."

Asked about the possibility of a last day shoot-out with his stablemate McIlroy he said: "It's irrelevant who it is with - I'm not bothered at all. Last year it was Phil."

This time defending champion Mickelson is eight back after a 72.

The 12th saw McIlroy's only dropped shot of the week - he was in sand too - but he had turned in 33 and he came straight back with a two-putt birdie on the 13th.

Mickelson's chances of a successful defence and a fourth Green Jacket in eight years were hit by three bogeys in four holes from the third.

In typical fashion the tournament favourite, a winner in Houston on Sunday, then birdied three of the next four, but he bogeyed the 11th after failing to find the green for the second day in a row and missed out on birdie chances at the 13th and 15th, Augusta National's two par fives on the inward half.

Mickelson said: "I left too many shots out there. I had six up and downs that were not hard and I didn't make them.

"Fortunately I am not in that bad a position and I can get back in it, but I can't afford this weekend to leave those shots out there.

"These next two days are my favourite two days of the year and you can make up a lot of ground."

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