Spieth hangs on as winds create Masters havoc
By Steve Keating
AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Gusting winds created second-round havoc at Augusta National but could not blow Jordan Spieth from the top of the Masters leaderboard on Friday while helping lift Rory McIlroy's career grand slam bid.
When the dust had settled on a windy day that kept the Georgia pines bending and pin flags waving, defending champion Spieth was still holding top spot -- but just barely when a five-shot lead was chopped to a single stroke after an adventurous two-over 74.
McIlroy, who began the day four shots behind the pacesetting Texan and fell a massive eight back with seven to play, stormed into contention with a blistering back nine charge and the help of a late Spieth stumble.
Northern Irishman McIlroy appeared headed in the wrong direction as he covered the outward nine in one-over but caught fire after the turn, plundering three birdies over his final six holes for a 71, matching the lowest round of the day.
Should the world number three triumph on Sunday, he would become only the sixth man to win all four of golf's blue riband events, joining Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen.
"Look, I'm really trying to block that out," four-times major champion McIlroy said. "I'm trying to beat guys on this leaderboard that I've beaten before, so I need to take confidence from that and know that I've been in this position before.
"Maybe not on this golf course, but I've been in this position before in big tournaments and been able to get the job done. So that's the way I need to approach it."
New Zealand's Danny Lee (74) and American Scott Piercy (72) sit two off the lead with Japan's Hideki Matsuyama (72), Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen (74) and American Brandt Snedeker (72) one further back after a wild and woolly day that saw just seven men under par as the year's first major hit the midway mark. Continued...