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Rediff.com  » Sports » Rose stays out in front

Rose stays out in front

April 10, 2004 13:09 IST

Britain's Justin Rose preserved his two-shot lead in the U.S. Masters second round on Friday as Tiger Woods fought back into contention and golf hailed its future and honoured its past.

Englishman Rose held his nerve to card a one-under-par 71 while world number one Woods recovered from an out-of-sorts opening day with a three-under 69.

Several players made a tilt at the lead before slipping back on a day of high emotion for four-times champion Arnold Palmer, who finally bowed out of the Masters after his record 50th consecutive start.

Woods, bidding for a third Masters title in four years, mixed five birdies with two bogeys to finish on level-par 144 at a sun-baked Augusta National.

That left the eight-times major winner six adrift of the 23-year-old Rose, competing in his second Masters.

"Yesterday was a bit of a difficult day," the 28-year-old Woods told reporters. "But I hung in there and played really well today.

"I made a few (putts) and missed a few but, overall, it went well. The scores weren't going to go low today with the course getting fast," added the American after ending a run of five successive rounds above par in the majors.

SET PACE

Rose, who had set the pace on the weather-hit first day with a superb five-under 67, offset a bogey five at the 11th with birdies at the par-four fifth and the 155-yard 12th.

"I was pretty happy with my game plan today," said Rose, the youngest professional in the 93-strong field. "I gave myself a lot of birdie chances and didn't put myself under too much pressure.

"I feel I can draw on a couple of things that have happened to me going into the weekend."

Tied for second at four-under were Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal, winner at Augusta in 1994 and 1999, and Germany's Alex Cejka, who shot a second successive 70.

Olazabal, who carded a first-round 71, vaulted up the leaderboard with an eagle at the par-five 13th and successive birdies on 14 and 15 before faltering with a bogey at the last.

"It must be something to do with this place," said the 38-year-old Spaniard after his 69. "Every time I come here, I try to do my best and I seem to feel at peace with myself."

KJ Choi equalled the tournament record with a blistering first nine of six-under 30 but lost momentum after the turn on his way to a two-under 70.

That left the South Korean rice farmer's son joint fourth at three-under 141, level with former world number two Phil Mickelson, who birdied three of the last seven holes for a 69.

EQUALLED RECORD

Choi birdied the second, third, fifth, seventh, eighth and ninth to equal the mark set by Johnny Miller in the third round in 1975 and matched by Greg Norman in the final round in 1988.

Triple major winner Ernie Els, with a 72, and 1997 U.S. PGA champion Davis Love III, whose 67 matched the low round of the day, tied for sixth with Fred Couples, Charles Howell III and Chris DiMarco at two-under.

Woods, one of 18 players still out on the course when play was suspended in gathering gloom on Thursday, took advantage of near-perfect conditions in the morning to complete an opening three-over 75 for a share of 44th place.

By the time he signed for a second-round 69, he had improved to a tie for 14th.

The halfway cut fell at four-over 148, with 44 players advancing to the third round. Defending champion Mike Weir of Canada missed out by a shot, having carded a two-under 70 that included five birdies and three bogeys.

The 74-year-old Palmer, who has not made the cut at Augusta since 1983, exited the Masters at 24-over 168 after successive rounds of 84.

"I'm through, I've had it, I'm done, cooked, washed up, finished, whatever you want to say," he told reporters.

"I won't say I'm happy it's done. It's time for it to be done, for me."

Also missing the cut was Australia's Adam Scott, who last month became the youngest winner of The Players Championship, an event widely regarded as the 'fifth major'.

Mark Lamport-Stokes
Source:
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