|Rory McIlroy waves to fans on his way to a second round 69 at the Masters. (Getty Images)|
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- We all know about Rory McIlroy at 2011. The collapse, the tee shot on No. 10, the 80. It's been played back ad nauseam this week just as it had during Congressional week a year ago.
So the only way for McIlroy to quiet people about what happened to him at Augusta National over the final nine holes last year was to show up, smile, and let his incredible golf game do the talking.
He did the first two perfectly. Rory joked earlier this week about how close the cabins really are on the 10th and answered just about every variation of the question. How does returning to the site of your implosion make you feel?
But that was early and Rory settled in, posting an opening round 71 and followed it up on Friday with a tidy 69, but it was the close he had on Thursday that got the momentum really going when he birdied his 17th and 18th holes in the first round.
“I think the whole round (on Thursday) was important to me; to not let the start get to me, and those two birdies at the end really gave me some momentum going into (Friday). McIlroy said.
Rory had a different feel to his round on Friday. Starting out hot, Rory made the turn at 4 under for the week, but his birdies on Nos. 13 and 15 were offset by bogeys on 10 and 17. The good news was Rory had a tough up and in on the 18th hole to avoid the round wrecker that the 18th has been to most this week, and said making that par on the last was just as important as the two birdies on Thursday.
"As nice as the two birdies were (on Thursday), if I had've finished with two bogeys today, I would have been just as bad. It was great to get that up and down on 18." Rory said.
So what now? The Rory Tiger Woods comparisons have always been on the tips of our tongues, and when Tiger was playing the way Rory seems to be playing now, Saturday was the day he'd pounce.
McIlroy wisely mentioned that he doesn't feel like he's in a position to win “yet” because there are still 36 holes to go and we've all seen what can happen with all different sized leads at Augusta on the weekend, but if you looked at the leaderboard, you'd have to say Rory is the obvious favorite.
It seems he's got past his bad round of the week and is now in a position to go play Rory golf, the kind with the high drives and the laser irons and the putts that seem to drop in the middle of the hole.
Congressional was Rory's chance to show us all he can run away from a field like nobody else in the game. This week's Masters is Rory's chance to show that even without his A game, he can beat the best in the world no matter how many are stuffed atop the leaderboard.