- Bob Harig, Senior Golf Writer
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AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Rory McIlroy was at a bit of a loss trying to explain how a 4-foot par putt on the final green had to go in for him to play the weekend at Augusta National.
Despite hitting the ball nicely and giving himself several good birdie opportunities, McIlroy faced the possibility of missing the Masters cut early Friday evening, only earning himself a spot for the final 36 holes when getting off the 18th green with a par.
It was that kind of day for McIlroy, whose 77 included two wildly errant shots that seemed more bad luck than bad golf.
"It was very frustrating,'' said McIlroy, who will be first off at 10:15 a.m. ET on Saturday, the last man to make the cut, and trails leader Bubba Watson by 11 shots.
"I just really couldn't get anything to go my way. I had a couple of really bad breaks on (Nos.) 4 and 13. Got a really massive wind switch on 4. And then hitting the sprinkler on 13 to go up into the azaleas.
"I felt like I played well coming in. I gave myself looks at birdie almost every hole. I couldn't get one to drop. Felt like I had good putts and they were either hitting the high side of the hole or low side of the hole. Just nothing going in.''
McIlroy got off to a shaky start, making a bogey at the par-5 second, rebounding with a birdie at the third, but then seeing things get strange for him at the par-3 fourth.
The hole measures approximately 230 yards, and McIlroy decided to hit a 5-wood that, due to a changing wind, sailed 30 yards over the green. The shot was so errant it nearly struck Adam Scott as he walked on the fifth tee.
McIlroy searched for his ball in the woods and tried to find a way to play it, to no avail. That meant going back to the tee, from where he hit his approach in the greenside bunker, and then got it up and down for a double-bogey 5.
He rebounded with a birdie at the fifth, but that would turn out to be his last of the day.
And things got really dicey from there.
McIlroy made a double-bogey at the 10th after finding the trees. He made a bogey at the 11th, barely missed a birdie at the 12th.
Then after a massive drive at the par-5 13th, McIlroy had just a 9-iron to the green. His approach sailed just over it, taking a bounce off a sprinkler head and into the azaleas. That led to a bogey, and McIlroy was in danger of missing the cut, which came at 4-over 148.
"I've seen a lot of this golf course in the last few years,'' said McIlroy, who famously hit into the trees on the 10th hole in 2011, leading to a back-nine meltdown and a final-round 80 when he had been the third-round leader.
He managed to play the last five holes Friday in even par, but missed chances for birdie at the 15th and 17th holes.
"I'm just not getting anything out of my game at the moment, or at least today, anyway,'' he said. "I drove the ball ... I'm driving the ball as well as I ever have. And that should be giving me opportunities to score a bit better. But I just haven't quite been able to get on a run."
At least he is around for the weekend.
Rory McIlroy was at a bit of a loss trying to explain how a 4-foot par putt on the final green had to go in for him to play the weekend at Augusta National.