Masters 2020: Sloppy Rory McIlroy leaves himself playing catch-up

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It is not quite panic stations, but Rory Mcilroy will feel an urgency to pick up at least a few shots on Augusta’s back nine here on Friday morning. When play was called for darkness, the Northern Irishman had just wasted a glorious 335-yard drive on the 10th - the par four where he infamously took the treble-bogey seven in his 2011 meltdown - by hitting his approach into a greenside bunker. McIlroy’s first task at 7am on Friday - when play resumes - is to save par and then to try to make some inroads on his seven-shot deficit to Ryder Cup teammate Paul Casey. In his challenge to complete the career grand slam, McIlroy will not want to be too far off the pace, especially with the first-round scoring so low. It says so much of the benign nature of the course after the morning deluge, that level par was only good enough for a tie for 51st when the final hooter sounded at 5.30pm. With only the top 50 and ties qualifying for the last two rounds, the task is obvious. McIlroy needs to get under par and stay there, but after a number of sloppy errors that might prove easier said. There was nothing wrong with his driving on that front nine, hitting six out of seven fairways. However, there was a succession of poor irons. On the first McIlroy made the cardinal Augusta sin of missing the green on the left and the bogey was inevitable. And even when he did manage to spin one in close, such as on the seventh, he yanked the four-footer.

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