Part of complete coverage on
Cactus prick sparks McIlroy revival in Texas
April 6, 2013 -- Updated 0148 GMT (0948 HKT)
World No. 2 Rory McIlroy hits his second shot on the 14th hole from the rough during the second round of the Texas Open.
- 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.
Part of complete coverage on
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 1251 GMT (2051 HKT)
It's a big dilemma: Be with your wife for the birth of your first child, or stay at work and try to earn $11 million. For Billy Horschel, it's a no-brainer.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 1140 GMT (1940 HKT)
She's just 19 but Hyo Joo Kim is already showing she's ready for the big time after recording the lowest ever round at a major championship.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1706 GMT (0106 HKT)
Masters champion Bubba Watson says winning the $10 million FedEx Cup jackpot would bring forward his retirement from the game.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 1131 GMT (1931 HKT)
The world's top women golfers will be chasing a $3.25 million prize purse at one of the most stunning courses on the LPGA Tour.
September 3, 2014 -- Updated 1219 GMT (2019 HKT)
Tom Watson selects Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson as his wildcard picks for the Ryder Cup contest with Europe.
September 2, 2014 -- Updated 1352 GMT (2152 HKT)
Ian Poulter, who has constantly haunted the U.S. in Ryder Cup golf, is back after being chosen as a wildcard by European captain Paul McGinley.
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 1540 GMT (2340 HKT)
Tiger Woods has split with his longtime coach Sean Foley after not winning a major during their four-year tenure.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 1105 GMT (1905 HKT)
Success just keeps on coming for Rory McIlroy, but the world No. 1 is already targeting more titles following his second PGA Championship win.
August 8, 2014 -- Updated 1424 GMT (2224 HKT)
From Seve's "spine-shivering" moment to Jack Nicklaus' "perfect explosion," David Cannon has captured many of golf's defining images.
August 7, 2014 -- Updated 1320 GMT (2120 HKT)
They came home as casualties of war -- physically shattered and mentally broken. But golf is proving to be an unlikely salvation for U.S. veterans.
August 5, 2014 -- Updated 1231 GMT (2031 HKT)
You are the one hitting the shots, but the man standing over your shoulder could hold the key to your golfing destiny.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1227 GMT (2027 HKT)
He has been there for all three of his son's major wins, but the latest triumph may well have been the sweetest yet for Rory McIlroy's father.
Today's five most popular stories