Rory McIlroy refused to get carried away about his prospects of winning the Masters despite being well placed heading into the weekend at Augusta National.
McIlroy, who needs to win a green jacket to become just the sixth player to complete the career grand slam, added a 71 to his opening 69 in testing windy conditions to finish four under par alongside 2015 champion Jordan Spieth.
“I was one over for the front nine so to shoot two under on the back nine, I would have taken that on the 10th tee,” McIlroy said. “But the way I played I hit some good shots and gave myself putts for birdies.
“It felt like I left a couple out there on 17 and 18 so I could have shot something in the 60s, but overall (I’m) pretty pleased with how I played.”
All four of McIlroy’s major wins to date have been achieved after being in the top five after the first round, a statistic the 28-year-old was not aware of.
“I think once you get yourself up there, you’re playing well enough after day one that if you continue that good play, you should be up there for the rest of the tournament,” said McIlroy, who was tied for fourth on Thursday.
“I’ve always felt comfortable being up around the lead. It’s a place that I’m thankfully quite familiar with and know how to deal with.
“I feel relaxed. I feel good. I’m constantly having a conversation with myself about staying in the present and just one shot at a time and all the cliche stuff that you hear about. But it’s true.
“That’s all I’m doing. I’m trying to get up there and hit the best shot that I can, and after that I’ll go about what’s the best way to hit the next shot and the putt.
“I feel like I don’t have to swing my best to play my best golf, but if I can think the way I’m thinking right now and stay in that mindset, that’s when I’ve been able to produce my best results.”