Line: Rory McIlroy chasing career Great Slam at Masters

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) The first returns are in for Rory McIlroy at the Masters, and so far all of the is good.

The golf swing is fine, and so are the ribs. Maybe more importantly, all seems well within the space between his ears.

Now comes the real check, with a rare career Grand Throw there for the taking.

On a day when par appeared a good score, McIlroy did slightly bit better, shooting a 1-under 71 Friday to inch close to the top of the leaderboard in the one main championship he has never won.

It could have been better, since many golf rounds tend to be. Heading in to what is expected to be a wet weekend break, though, it was just what McIlroy required to put himself in position for the eco-friendly jacket that once slipped therefore agonizingly away.

” I’ ve always been comfortable round the lead, ” McIlroy said about what seemed like a bit of a message to the remaining field. ” It’ s a location that I’ m thankfully very familiar with and know how to deal with. ”

That wasn’ big t always the case, as anyone who will be even a casual student of the good this tournament knows. It was last year when McIlroy began Sunday having a four-shot advantage after leading the whole tournament.

What happened following might have broken a lesser player. For many anyone knows, it still might haunt McIlroy every time he hard disks down Magnolia Lane.

A triple bogey on the tenth hole after a drive into the cabin rentals left of the fairway finally price him the lead. He wound up shooting 80, and Charl Schwartzel won his first and – so far – only major tournament.

McIlroy would recover to win the U. H. Open in a romp two months later on, so there was no immediate hangover. He would later add two PGA championships and one British Open name to his trophy case.

Try as he might, even though, he still hasn’ t had the opportunity to crack the code with Augusta National.

Which could change in his 10th Masters, plus there is some precedent on his aspect. Ben Hogan and Sam Snead were both playing in their tenth Masters when they finally won, plus Arnold Palmer won his 1st at the age of 28 – the same age group McIlroy is now.

” There’ s a lot of different comparisons you can make, ” McIlroy said previously this week. ” But it’ t all really meaningless unless you head out there and actually do it. ”

McIlroy was meticulous in the preparations for this Masters, coming up through Florida to play 54 holes along with members last week and 36 a couple weeks before that. He’ s arriving off a win in Arnold Palmer’ s tournament last 30 days, and his confidence in his game will be high.

He’ ersus also accepted the idea that pars are excellent on Augusta National, especially when the particular winds are swirling like these were in Friday’ s second circular. A day after opening with a 69 he was at 4-under a hundred and forty, with a late Saturday afternoon first tee time.

” Occasionally pars might be a little bit boring and you also might feel as if you want to get a small amount more out of your round, ” McIlroy said. ” But as you research the leaderboard and you’ lso are still there around the lead, that’ s taken awhile for me to adapt to. ”

Still, this really is Augusta National, where there are birdies available on the back nine. And McIlroy knew well what Jordan Spieth did to grab the opening time lead when he birdied 5 straight holes beginning at Number 13.

So he or she gave himself a little talk plus birdied 13 and 14 before you make a string of pars to complete his round.

” I said to myself on the thirteenth tee, ” Let’ s create four in the next six, ” kind of do what Jordan did recently, ” McIlroy said. ” We didn’ t quite, birdied the particular 13th and 14th, gave personally a few more chances coming in and didn’ t quite convert. ”

He’ ll have more probabilities on the weekend, when Augusta Nationwide figures to play long in moist conditions. The course shapes upward well for his high pull, and his distance gives him an edge over all but a handful of fellow rivals.

What McIlroy appears particularly proud of is that his way of thinking is under control. He’ s considering one shot at a time, not permitting himself to get out of the moment as well as the task at hand.

Whether or not that plays out with an eco-friendly jacket around his shoulders upon Sunday remains to be seen. But McIlroy knows the significance of what he’ s i9000 trying to do, finish a modern profession grand slam that only 5 players before him have was able to pull off.

” I’ m an avid fan of the great the game, and I know an earn here and what that would mean plus where that would put me of all time alongside some of the greatest that have ever performed this game, ” McIlroy stated. ” And that would be mean a lot to me. ”

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Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for that Associated Press. Write to your pet at tdahlberg(at)ap. org or