The Masters: 'Big Four' focus


Augusta was at its most devilish on Friday as only four players broke par in the second round of the Masters.

World number three Rory McIlroy was among the stand-out performers as a 71 lifted him into second place, while Jason Day's 73 appeared a decent effort by the time leader Jordan Spieth finished with a 74.

The other member of the top four in the world rankings, Bubba Watson, made the cut by the skin of his teeth and will begin the weekend 10 off the pace.



Second-round score: 74 (out in 36, back in 38)

Tournament score: -4

Position: 1st

In his 10th competitive round at Augusta, Spieth finally recorded a first over-par score, though a 74 was certainly no disgrace for the reigning champion given the challenging conditions.

Spieth picked up where he left off on Thursday by birdieing two of the first three, only to struggle thereafter as swirling winds and fiendishly fast greens made it tough to control the ball.

A four-putt six at the fifth was followed up by four bogeys, but Spieth did just enough to remain in front for a sixth successive Masters round, a gutsy par save at the last sending a message to his rivals.



Second-round score: 71 (out in 37, back in 34)

Tournament score: -3

Position: 2nd

Undoubtedly the biggest winner on day two, McIlroy birdied three of the last six holes to surge up the leaderboard and will have watched on with interest as Spieth came back towards him.

McIlroy's early progress was undermined when he double-bogeyed the fourth and gave away another shot at the fifth before bogeying the tricky 11th.

However, the four-time major winner refused to throw in the towel and continued his excellent week on the par fives by making fours at 13 and 15.

Another birdie came at the 16th, where a curving 39-foot putt found its target, and the icing on the cake for McIlroy was provided with an up-and-down from 87 yards at the last, which rescued an unlikely par.




Second-round score: 73 (out in 34, back in 39)

Tournament score: +1

Position: T15th

Day could be seen stretching his troublesome back at the second hole, but any concerns over the world number one's fitness were put to bed as he recovered from an opening bogey to turn in 34 and reach two under par.

The back nine once again got the better of Day, though. After taking 41 shots over the inward holes on Thursday, he made three bogeys and no birdies on this occasion, leaving him five adrift of Spieth.



Second-round score: 75 (out in 39, back in 36)

Tournament score: +6

Position: 57th

Birdies at 13 and 17 ultimately proved significant for two-time champion Watson as he avoided missing the cut at the Masters for the first time.

Bubba bogeyed four of the first six and appeared to be heading for an early exit following a sloppy start to his back nine.

Yet the left-hander recovered some ground over the closing holes and a second successive 75 ensured he was the 57th and last player to make the weekend.