Masters 2014: Rory McIlroy aiming low at Augusta after scraping through the cut

 

Augusta

Pre-tournament favourite Rory McIlroy went in search of “something phenomenal” on Saturday to keep his faint hopes of winning the Masters alive at Augusta National.

McIlroy did not realise he had to par the last to make the halfway cut on the mark of four over par, but held his nerve from four feet to complete a disappointing - and admittedly unfortunate - 77.

That meant a total of 51 players - 50 professionals and Australian amateur Oliver Goss - qualified for the last two rounds and ensured McIlroy would be the first man out at 10.15am local time, most likely playing with club member Jeff Knox as his marker.

"I just want to go out there and try to get off to a fast start," said McIlroy, who visited some seldom-seen parts of the course on the 10th and 13th, the latter after his ball hit a sprinkler and bounded into the azaleas which give the hole its name.

"Eleven shots back [of leader Bubba Watson] with two rounds to play is going to be nearly impossible to make up so I'm trying to shoot two really low rounds and see where that puts me at the end of the week.

"It will take something phenomenal to shoot something in the mid-60s and get myself back under par going into the last day. But I'm going to need to be two, three or four under par going into the last day to have any sort of chance."

McIlroy at least had an outside chance to cling onto, which is more than could be said for three-time winner Phil Mickelson, who missed the cut by a shot to make an early exit for the first time since 1997.

"I just had one bad hole there at 12," said Mickelson, who found a greenside bunker on the 155-yard par three, thinned his second shot into another bunker and then did exactly the same again.

"I keep making these triple bogeys, they're tough to overcome. I've actually played reasonably well for a majority of the holes and then the ones that I let slide I end up making a big number."

Asked if he would watch the final two rounds on television, Mickelson added: "It's an exciting tournament, so I probably will. It will kind of be my punishment."

Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els and 2011 champion Charl Schwartzel also missed out by a shot, Donald shooting a second round of 70 but paying the price for an opening 79 which included a two-shot penalty for touching the sand in a bunker on the ninth after failing to escape at the first attempt.

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