British Masters: Rory McIlroy eight off pace with Graeme McDowell six behind

Rory McIlroy acknowledges applause on Friday
Rory McIlroy recovered from a poor start on Friday to card a one-under-par 69 at Close House

Rory McIlroy is eight shots off the pace at the halfway stage of the British Masters after a one-under-par 69 left him on four under par overall.

McIlroy started the day four behind but two early bogeys left him in danger of missing the cut before he steadied with three birdies over his last 12 holes.

Graeme McDowell is six behind leader Tyrrell Hatton after a 68 on Friday.

After starting at the 10th, McDowell played his first nine in one over but an eagle on six helped tidy his card.

The 2010 US Open champion's round left him sharing 10th place at Close House.

McIlroy, 28, dropped shots at the second and the fifth before getting up and down from just off the green at the long sixth to pick up his first birdie.

After another gain at the short par-four 11th, McIlroy looked in serious danger of dropping a shot at the 14th after finding water with his long iron off the tee.

However, the four-time major winner rescued par with a fine approach and 10-foot putt and a big drive at the 17th set up a birdie which ended any prospect of McIlroy missing out on the weekend action.

The world number six, who has not won in 2017, was a late entry for the European Tour event after failing to qualify for last week's Tour Championship in in the US.

Englishman Hatton extended his overnight lead after adding a 65 to his opening 63.

That left him three ahead of a group which included tournament host Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter plus other Englishmen Ashley Cheaters and Chris Hanson and Sweden's Robert Karlsson.

Shane Lowry and Paul Dunne are in the group with McDowell on six under.