McIlroy stays in the groove but Woods produces his old rhythm

Northern Irishman two out in front however Tiger roars back into contention with a 66

If Rory McIlroy is to win his first Green Jacket here tomorrow night it seems he will also have to repel the resurrection of Tiger Woods.

While the Ulsterman was wonderfully assured in pulling away in the 75th Masters yesterday, it was the former world No 1 who stole the roars. The question now will be whether they will distract the young man from his ever more convincing purpose.

At 10-under, the 21-year-old leads the 23-year-old Jason Day by two shots at the top of leaderboard. But just one shot back is a hugely familiar and imposing figure prowling through those pines. This was a flashback to the old days, to the bold days, to the days when Augusta was the Tiger's natural habit. As he finished fourth last year, it has probably always remained so, but yesterday's 66 at the very least reminded of his loving for Augusta. And, indeed, for major competition.

Woods has enjoyed just one top 10 all year and is in the midst of rebuilding both his life and his swing in the continuing wake of the sex scandal. But now, with just two players above him, redemption beckons. Not to mention a fifth Masters title. His birdie on the 18th was classic Woods. Into the trees, on to the green with an outrageous approach; 12-footer into the middle of the hole. Now where have we seen that fist-pump before?

It is all too easy to become seduced by thoughts of an impending Woods rebirth, but he has been in these positions before in the last 17 fruitless months and has always proved too inconsistent. And in McIlroy there is a front-runner with an inexorable feel to his march. Indeed, with every stride here he has reminded of another young European who brought Augusta to it knees three decades ago. McIlroy has already trumped Seve Ballesteros as the youngest man ever to lead the Masters after the first round. And now will back himself to emulate the great conquistador with a famous wire-to-wire victory.

"I look down everyone in this field and at some point I have beaten them – there is absolutely no reason why I can't do it again," said McIlroy. "I don't really care what anyone else does. I don't need to know. It will be great for the tournament if he [Woods] is up there. But I'm two ahead of Jason and am in a better position."

Confident stuff. But then, it was the tone of his entire day. McIlroy went out determined not to capitulate in this second round, as he did at last year's Open with an 80, but managed rather more than that. He pulled away, with a 69 of supreme control. Indeed, but for two missed chances on the 17th and 18th McIlroy would have a larger advantage. In truth, there were very few wobbles. Birdies on the second, fifth and ninth were surrounded by pars as he advanced into double digits. Indeed, it took until the 12th, the famed par-three, until McIlroy finally blemished his scorecard. The four, courtesy of a visit to the back bunker, was his first bogey at this Masters.

It did not even qualify as a mini-disaster as every one of his 98 rivals had recorded at least one bogey on the opening day. And anyway, McIlroy made instant correction with a birdie on the par-five 13th, which should have been an eagle after a sumptuous approach to the shadow of the pin. It was solid from there on in, adding yet more conviction to the optimism. Are we really on the verge of a first European victory here since 1999?

If McIlroy does allow himself a peek down the leaderboard it will tell him of the quality in pursuit. K J Choi is in third alongside Woods on seven-under and then a shot back is the 2006 US Open winner, Geoff Ogilvy, and the joint first-round leader Alvaro Quiros, from Spain. Then on five-under, after a 67 is the world No 2 Lee Westwood. Another tantalising reason for Britain to tune in this weekend, as is the presence of four-under of two other Englishmen in Luke Donald and Ross Fisher.

Westwood's putter finally obliged, a 20-footer for eagle on the 15th hauling him into contention. After finishing runner-up last year, Westwood knows exactly what it takes and will be interested to see the defending champion, Phil Mickelson, back in a tie for 20th after a scrappy 72 left him on two-under. Believe it, the player who finished second in two of the three majors he played in 2010 has another live chance. Martin Kaymer, the world No 1, missed his cut again at the Masters and also exiting prematurely was the world No 5 Graeme McDowell. Big names have fallen, but bigger names remain. This climax could rival any which have come here before.

Yet however much attention is on Woods or Westwood, Day will again be such an interesting partner for McIlroy. Day shot a best-of-the-week 64, coming back in 31 strokes to make up five shots on playing partner McIlroy. "I didn't even know Jason was scoring so well, until I looked up at the scoreboard on the 15th," said McIlroy. It was that sort of three-ball. Short on age, limitless in talent. There was only 66 years between McIlroy, Day and Rickie Fowler, but with the latter being five-under, they were a collective 23-under for two rounds. Little wonder there has been so much said and written recently about the changing of the guard.

Yet don't rule out the wrinklies. Look at Fred Couples. At 51 he is seven years older than the combined age of the two pacesetters, but there he stands on five-under after a 68. Is it possible that on the 25th anniversary of Jack Nicklaus's record Masters win as a 46-year-old, Augusta is about to witness an even more startling resurrection? Well, Couples finished sixth last year and, despite a bad back, he is not discounting any scenario.

"Could I win? Of course," said Couples. "Am I looking forward to playing tomorrow. You bet. This is probably the only Tour event I probably can still win What would it mean to me if I did? it would mean retiring, that's what. You know, it would be the in the golf history. Are you kidding? I'd be gone."

Masters details

Second-round scores

(US unless stated; *denotes amateur)

134 R McIlroy (N Irl) 65 69

136 J Day (Aus) 72 64

137 K J Choi (S Kor) 67 70, T Woods 71 66

138 G Ogilvy (Aus) 69 69, A Quiros (Sp) 65 73

139 R Barnes 68 71, Y E Yang (S Kor) 67 72, F Couples 71 68, R Fowler 70 69,L Westwood 72 67

140 C Schwartzel (SA) 69 71, L Donald (Eng) 72 68, J Furyk 72 68, R Fisher (Eng) 69 71, B Snedeker 69 71

141 D Toms 72 69, A Cabrera (Arg) 71 70

142 T Immelman (SA) 69 73 S Stricker 72 70, P Casey (Eng) 70 72, P Mickelson 70 72, G Woodland 69 73, D Johnson 74 68, A Scott (Aus) 72 70, B van Pelt 73 69, R Ishikawa (Japan) 71 71

143 C Hoffman 74 69, R Moore 70 73, I Poulter (Eng) 74 69, A Cejka (Ger) 72 71, R Palmer 71 72, M Laird (Sco) 74 69

144 M A Jimenez (Sp) 71 73, E Molinari (It) 74 70, B Watson 73 71, J Rose (Eng) 73 71, N Watney 72 72, B Haas 74 70

145 K-T Kim (S Kor) 70 75, *H Matsuyama (Japan) 72 73, *L Kim (S Kor) 76 72, J Bohn 73 75, S Marino 74 71, J Overton 73 72, C Villegas (Col) 70 75, A Baddeley (Aus) 75 70

---------------PROJECTED CUT--------------

146 L Glover 75 71, Z Johnson 73 73, A Kim 73 73, S Cink 71 75, S O'Hair 70 76, T Clark (SA) 73 73147 S Appleby (Aus) 75 72, J Kelly 74 73, K Na 73 74, M Wilson 76 71

148 D A Points 72 76, P Hanson (Swe) 72 76, B Crane 73 75, Y Ikeda (Japan) 74 74, L Oosthuizen (SA) 75 73, J Vegas (Ven) 72 76, *D Chung 72 76, H Slocum 72 76, C Pett'son (Swe) 75 73, R Goosen (SA) 70 78

149 K Streelman 75 74, *P Uihlein 72 77, A Hansen (Den) 72 77, G Havret (Fr) 70 79, H Fujita (Japan) 70 79, P Harrington (Irl) 77 72

150 JM Olazabal (Sp) 73 77, M O'Meara 77 73, R Sabbatini (SA) 74 76, L Mize 73 77, *Jin Jeong (S Kor) 73 77

151 T Watson 79, 72, C Stadler 80 71, J Byrd 73 78

152 *N Smith 75 77, D Love III 75, 77

153 S Lyle (Sco) 73 80

154 V Singh (Fiji) 76 78

155 I Woosnam (Wal) 78 77, B Crenshaw 78 77, M Weir (Can) 76 79

Weather Warm and sunny, with light rain showers today. Max temp: Today: 30C, Tomorrow: 32C

TV Day Two highlights BBC2, 11.30am. Live: Today Sky Sports 1, 7pm-12.30am; BBC2 8.30pm-12am. Tomorrow Sky Sports 1, 6.30pm-12.30am; BBC2 7pm-12am.

Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker