3 Storylines to watch at Augusta National

Rory McIlroy’s best finish at Augusta was a tie for 20th in 2009.

1 Can Rory McIlroy win wire to wire?

The 21-year-old was in a similar position at last year’s British Open, shooting an opening-round record-low 63. He then vanished from the leaderboard with a second-round 80. But this time, he’s striping his iron shots. And the weather’s looking perfect.

2 Will we see Tiger in contention?

The former world No. 1 is mired in the longest winless streak of his career. But he’s hardly panicking.

“I’m very pleased,”?Woods said after shooting a 1-under 71. “I’m right there in the ballgame.”

Woods is just six back and will play in prime conditions with a late tee time Friday. He hit 12 of 18 greens in the opening round but missed a handful of makeable putts. His swing keeps improving and is good enough right now to make a serious run at a fifth green jacket.

That flat stick is the problem.

Woods stroked 30 putts but did gain confidence with a par-saver at 12 and consecutive birdies at 13 and 14.

3 Who are the players to watch on Sunday?

Phil Mickelson was the favorite and is sitting pretty after an ugly day off the tee, even though he left his driver in the clubhouse. Lefty hit just four of 14 fairways and put major strain on his back, which has been massaged nightly the past week.

Alvaro Quiros and Dustin Johnson are two others to watch. Like McIlroy, both ranked in the top 10 in driving distance and Johnson has last year’s U.S. Open meltdown to draw from.

Then there’s Geoff Ogilvy, who is finally healthy and comfortable in his new swing, hitting 15 of 18 greens.


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