Jordan Spieth remains the man to catch, but McIlroy has put himself in a good position heading into the weekend
There were contrasting fortunes for the Irish at Augusta today, with Rory McIlroy producing a fantastic back nine to leave him in contention heading into the weekend.
McIlroy began his round promisingly, a par followed by back-to-back bogeys saw him move steadily up the leaderboard and put a dent in Jordan Spieth's hefty lead.
Consistency, it proves, is key at Augusta and McIlroy fell foul of the course after a number of loose shots saw him pick up a double-bogey on the 4th followed by a bogey. The Holywood man would close out his back nine with four consecutive pars.
"It feels great [to finish under par]. The course was playing extremely difficult and the scoring was reflecting that" he told Sky Sports.
"Once I made bogey on 11, I knew the two par-fives were get-able for me and if I could sneak one or two in apart from that then I'd be happy. I came in last night awfully disappointed with the way I finished, but I feel a lot better after that."
That bogey on the 11th would be followed by three birdies and four pars to close out the back nine, leaving him on three-under heading into the weekend.
Shane Lowry, on the other hand, had to endure a torrid second day after his opening round heroics.
The Clara native finished the day on level par, carding a four over for the second round with a heavily blemished card.
The 29-year-old opened with two bogeys and managed to steady himself with pars from three to eight before a birdie to close out the back nine.
A back nine that included three bogeys and a double bogey capped off what was a difficult day for Lowry, but he told Sky Sports that he is positive heading into the weekend.
"It was quite tough out there and I didn't do myself any favours with the start I got myself off to. I'm still sitting OK, fairly happy with where I am. If you had given me this score two days ago I probably would have taken it.
"I caught a gust on 17 on my second shot, you know it's just so difficult out there. You leave yourself a lot of six-footers for pars and it's so windy as well and on such fast greens it's tricky."
Elsewhere in the field today, Darren Clarke shot an 84 to leave him +16 for the tournament. Graeme McDowell shot an 81 to finish on +9. The projected cut is +5.