Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Cactus prick sparks McIlroy revival in Texas

updated 9:48 PM EDT, Fri April 5, 2013
World No. 2 Rory McIlroy hits his second shot on the 14th hole from the rough during the second round of the Texas Open.
World No. 2 Rory McIlroy hits his second shot on the 14th hole from the rough during the second round of the Texas Open.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rory McIlroy's form improves after an encounter with a cactus at the Texas Open
  • The former world No. 1 cards five-under 67 to be two shots off the lead
  • He is hoping to improve his form ahead of next week's Masters at Augusta
  • American Billy Horschel leads PGA Tour event after finishing with two birdies

(CNN) -- Some athletes respond to a proverbial kick up the backside, but Rory McIlroy seems to have found inspiration from the prick of a cactus thorn.

The Northern Irishman canceled a humanitarian trip to Haiti to play in this week's Texas Open, hoping to rediscover his form ahead of next week's Masters.

The two-time major winner added San Antonio to his Augusta buildup after registering just one top-10 finish since signing a lucrative deal with Nike in January which could be worth as much as $250 million, and losing the top ranking to Tiger Woods.

While Thursday's first-round 72 left him five strokes off the lead, McIlroy roared back with a five-under-par 67 that left him two off the halfway pace.

Read: McIlroy - 'I know what I'm doing'

Bubba Watson's hovercraft is for real
Is McIlroy ready for the Masters?
Bubba Watson on momentous Masters

The world No. 2 had a mixed opening few holes, and he dropped his second shot of Friday's second round following a close encounter with a flower of the desert on the ninth fairway.

"I shouldn't have been there anyways, so I guess it was deserved, getting a -- whatever it was -- off the cactus," McIlroy said on the PGA Tour website.

The 23-year-old responded with a birdie at 11, and three more at the last three holes to end the day tied for fifth and in sight of pacesetter Billy Horschel.

"I definitely feel like I made the right decision to come here, and even if I hadn't been in this position and have been a few shots back I'd still feel the same way," McIlroy said. "I haven't really been in contention this year. So it will be nice to get into the mix."

While his shotmaking has been erratic at times, McIlroy's long game is in fine shape.

He managed to get to the green in two at the par-five eighth and 18th -- the latter after a 325-yard tee shot -- though he missed eagle putts at both.

"I think that shows where my game is," McIlroy said. "Those two par-fives are probably the toughest to hit in two with how small the greens are. It shows that my ball-striking is there. If I can keep hitting shots like that into par-fives, I'll be doing OK."

McIlroy tied for 45th at last week's Houston Open, where Horschel was joint second behind D.A. Points.

The American closed with two birdies to sign for a 68 and take a handy lead over compatriots Daniel Summerhays (69) and Charley Hoffman (67) as well as Australia's Steven Bowditch (69).

Two-time major winner John Daly missed the halfway cut by one shot after following up his 76 with 70, finishing birdie-bogey-birdie.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Bubba Watson is the Masters king, but can he win a major away from Augusta? Living Golf's Shane O'Donoghue has the lowdown.
updated 10:12 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Arnold Palmer
Arnold Palmer won his first major at Augusta, played there with the U.S. President and made a record 50 consecutive Masters appearances.
updated 8:02 AM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
He is remembered for designing one of the world's most famous golf courses, but the man behind Augusta died pleading to be paid.
updated 10:26 AM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
Will Phil Mickelson win a fourth green jacket? Can Europe end its long Masters wait? Or will Adam Scott emulate the absent Tiger Woods?
updated 6:04 AM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Take a trip around Augusta. From Eisenhower's toppled tree to the fiendishly-difficult Amen Corner, the Masters' home venue has it all.
updated 8:04 AM EDT, Tue April 8, 2014
He's been mistaken for Tiger Woods' ball-boy, but that won't be the case when amateur star Matt Fitzpatrick tees off at the Masters.
updated 8:28 AM EDT, Fri April 4, 2014
2012 Masters Champion Bubba Watson shows us how to hit the long ball.
updated 2:27 PM EDT, Thu April 3, 2014
CNN's Shane O'Donoghue meets Billy Payne -- the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club.
updated 1:39 PM EDT, Thu April 3, 2014
Shane O'Donoghue meets Ben Crenshaw who won his first of two Masters thirty years ago this month.
updated 2:03 PM EDT, Thu April 3, 2014
CNN's Shane O'Donoghue walks in the footsteps of the famous British golf course architect.
updated 9:00 AM EDT, Thu March 27, 2014
They carry a bag for a living but these men can bring home six-figure incomes. Welcome to the world of a caddy.
CNN's Alex Thomas welcomes golf opening itself up to women, but questions the motives behind the decision.
ADVERTISEMENT