The Masters 2012: Rory McIlroy back in the hunt as Lee Westwood rues late slip
Closing double bogey hinders Westwood but Scot Paul Lawrie still in the mix
Lee Westwood tossed away the Masters lead with a closing double bogey at Augusta – as Rory McIlroy came right back into the thick of things.
England’s world No 3, ahead by one after an opening 67, still held that advantage until he missed the 18th green, chipped ten feet past and ran up a six. A one-over-par 73 dropped the 2010 runner-up to four under for the opening major of the season and left Americans Fred Couples – champion 20 years ago and now 52 – and Jason Dufner out in front on five under.
Paul Lawrie birdied the last three holes to finish at three under. The Scot had slipped back to level par, but then holed a viciously curling 40-footer on the 16th and by grabbing another two birdies at the 17th and 18th he was tied for tenth after a satisfactory 72 to follow up his superb opening 69.
McIlroy reached the same mark before failing to get up and down from a bunker at the 17th, but then saved par from off the final green and with a fine 69 joined Westwood and Spanish star Sergio Garcia only one behind.
And that, of course, after he began with a double-bogey six on Thursday on his return to the course where he led by four with a round to go last April, then crashed to an 80.
Westwood said: “It was a disappointing way to finish, but if you get out of position on this course it can punish you. These things happen and they will happen to everybody.”
Henrik Stenson was leading when he took eight on the hole on Thursday.
“I thought I made a few putts that didn’t drop,” added Westwood. “But I’m right in there for the weekend and that’s where I want to be. The greens are getting more fiery and the wind is making it tricky.”
McIlroy had finished his opening 71 with back-to-back birdies and said: “That was huge and it was nice just to get up today and get straight back at it.
“It put me in a positive frame of mind. I know I am playing well – my recent results (only one finish outside the top five since last August) show that. I just wanted to come and play and put myself in position to win another tournament, another major.”
Two months after his Masters meltdown a year ago, he won the US open by eight shots.
Couples, captain of the American Presidents Cup team last November, described it as “a little bizarre” to find himself out in front after a “magical” 67.
But it was not totally surprising. He has finished sixth and 15th the last two years and stated: “It’s my favourite place in the world to play.
“On the range I felt my body tightening up a bit and I just wanted to play solid.”
Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, with seven green jackets between them, were not out of it.
Mickelson had been four over after a triple-bogey seven at the tenth on Thursday, but he followed up his 74 with a 68 to be two under and despite the 18th playing so tough into the wind he birdied it from 18 feet.
Woods was among the later starters and birdied the first and third to get to two under as well, but then bogeyed the fourth and sixth.
At level par he was still in a lot better position than world number one Luke Donald, who in the final group of the day was five over after a double-bogey seven at the eighth.
He could not afford to drop another shot if he was to survive the halfway cut.
Ian Poulter reached two under, but he went in the water for a double bogey at the short 16th and remained level par with a second successive 72.
Poulter said: “I’m a little bit disappointed – it obviously leaves a little sour taste.”
He much preferred to remember his birdie on the 13th, where his second shot went into the bushes, but he was able to get at it and produced a magnificent chip to four feet.
“I had to take a little bow after that one,” he said. “It was very cheeky, I must say.”
Padraig Harrington was one over with four to go, Justin Rose two over after 12, Graeme McDowell three over following a 72 and Ross Fisher on the same mark with two holes remaining.
Scotland’s Martin Laird feared his closing birdie – a superb four-iron to four feet – might still leave him one too many to survive the cut on four over, however The Masters has the rule whereby anybody ten shots or fewer off the lead at halfway qualifies and he was looking good.
Open champion Darren Clarke, though, crashed to an 81 and ten over playing with Couples, while Paul Casey’s slow recovery from his shoulder dislocation – suffered snowboarding on Christmas Eve – saw him exit as well on seven over.
Ian Woosnam’s second successive 77 meant he was alongside Clarke, with Simon Dyson (77) one further back and Sandy Lyle (86-78) last.
Last year’s runner-up Jason Day withdrew from the Masters midway through his second round because of an ankle injury.
The Australian, who quit after completing just seven holes, was one-over-par for the day, five-over for the championship and in danger of missing the cut.
The world No 11 had been battling the injury for over a week and needed treatment and painkillers just to start the year’s first major. Day finished tied with compatriot Adam Scott at last year’s Masters when he made his first appearance at the tournament, highlighted by a second round 64. He followed up his powerful showing by finishing outright second at the US Open two months later.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North