McIlroy excited by Masters position

With swirling winds and fast greens playing havoc with scorecards on round two, McIlroy contended brilliantly with the elements, a back-nine charge taking him to three under for the tournament.

Rory McIlroy - cropped

Rory McIlroy on his way to a second-round 71.

An excited Rory McIlroy is looking forward to battling against tough Augusta conditions this weekend after putting himself firmly in contention for a first green jacket.

Read: >McIlroy within one of Spieth as Augusta bares its teeth

With swirling winds and fast greens playing havoc with scorecards on round two, McIlroy contended brilliantly with the elements, a back-nine charge taking him to three under for the tournament.

Read: >Spieth: It was very tough to stay cool

The Northern Irishman was just one of a handful of players to break par as round two neared a conclusion, birdies at 13, 15 and 16 helping him close in on reigning champion and leader Jordan Spieth, who was six under with three to play.

Read: >The Masters: 'Big Four' focus

McIlroy saved par at the last with a terrific up and down, his strong finish offering a welcome contrast to bogeys on the 16th and 18th the previous day. 

"It feels great [to be under par], the course is playing awfully difficult out there as you can see and the scoring is reflecting that," he told Sky Sports.

"Once I made bogey at 11 I knew that the two par fives [at 13 and 15] were gettable for me and if I could maybe sneak one or two more in then I'd be really happy.

"Thankfully that's what I was able to do. I came off the golf course last night disappointed with how I finished but I'm feeling a lot better after that finish. It's a great position going into the weekend.

"I'm very excited, obviously. This is my best position going into the weekend at Augusta for some time and hopefully I can go out there tomorrow [Saturday] and battle away again.

"I think the conditions will be similar so I have to battle away, play another good round of golf and hopefully I can give myself a great chance on Sunday."

At one stage it looked as though Spieth — a wire-to-wire winner of the Masters in 2015 — would pull clear as he birdied two of the first three holes to get to eight under.

However, a double bogey at five curtailed his momentum and the Texan had to work hard to maintain his lead thereafter, as playing partner and amateur Bryson DeChambeau produced a stunning display to reach four under.

McIlroy admitted he could not resist checking on his rival's progress.

"Yeah, I knew what was happening," he added. "I'm a bit of a leaderboard watcher, I like to know where I stand going into the weekend.

"I think three under par is the best in the clubhouse at the minute and if no one really does anything on the back nine [I will stay there]. 

"I want to try and get in that final group, that's the position I'm in at the minute. It was my objective over the last few holes and thankfully I played them well."