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Campbell charges into the lead

April 08, 2006 09:52 IST

American Chad Campbell upstaged golf's biggest names on a blustery day of damage limitation by charging into a three-shot lead in the U.S. Masters second round on Friday.

Four strokes off the pace overnight, the 31-year-old Texan fired a five-under-par 67 in gusting winds and on crusting greens at Augusta National to finish on six-under 138.

Compatriot Rocco Mediate ground out a 73 for a share of second place with first-round leader Vijay Singh, who recovered from three double-bogeys to return a gutsy 74, and 1992 winner Fred Couples.

Couples, 46, lipped out with a birdie attempt from eight feet at the last before signing for a 70 that enabled him to make his 22nd consecutive cut at Augusta.

World number one Tiger Woods followed his opening 72 with a 71 to climb into a share of 10th spot at one under, one of 15 players within five strokes of the lead.

Two more of the game's "Big Five" were lurking in a five-way tie for fifth at two under after a gruelling round of survival usually associated with a U.S. Open.

World number four Phil Mickelson, the 2004 champion, bogeyed the last for a 72 while fifth-ranked Ernie Els carded a second successive 71.

The heavyweight duo finished level with Britain's Darren Clarke (70) and David Howell (71), plus South Africa's Tim Clark (72).

"It's special to be leading after two rounds," Campbell told reporters. "Obviously, my goal is to be leading after four rounds, but it's a good start.

SPECIAL PLACE

"This is a special place and a special tournament but I don't think there's anything to celebrate yet," said the three-times PGA Tour winner after holing a 15-foot birdie putt at the 18th.

"It's very tough out there and there are 36 holes left."

Fijian Singh's recovery after a slide down the leaderboard that featured consecutive double-bogeys on four and five was one of the outstanding feats of the day.

"I don't think I've had back-to-back doubles in a very long time but it's very easy to do it out there," said the 2000 champion.

"I was happy that I hung in there. I made a good birdie on 17 and a nice two-putt for par at the last. I'm happy with my position."

Left-hander Mickelson, one of the tournament favourites after romping to a 13-stroke victory at last week's BellSouth Classic, was also satisfied.

"I left some shots out there but I'm in a good position heading into the weekend," he said after a mix of four birdies and four bogeys.

"There were times when the round could have got away a little bit but I was able to keep it in check."

Three-times major winner Els, who finished in the top six at Augusta every year between 2000 and 2004, likes his chances.

"I had it going there for a while but I just played 10 really bad," said the South African, who got to four under before running up a double-bogey at the par-four 10th.

GOOD ROUNDS

"But that's two good rounds there. I hit a lot of fairways, hit a lot of greens and made a putt here and there. I've got a chance."

Chasing his fifth green jacket, defending champion Woods slipped to one over for the tournament after the first seven holes but a solid finish left him in place to challenge for an 11th major title.

"I'm in good shape," Woods said. "Today was really tough. It was windy, swirly and played very difficult.

"A good golf shot could end up in a bad spot and you just had to accept the consequences.

"I played well today. I really did."

Twice winner Ben Crenshaw made his first Masters cut in nine years, adding a 72 to his first-round 71.

"I'm continuing to have a really nice pace and touch on my putts, and that's really helping me," said the 54-year-old.

"I've somehow proved to myself there's a way around here. This has always been my favourite place," added Crenshaw, Masters champion in 1984 and 1995.

The cut fell at four-over 148 with 47 players advancing into the last three rounds.

Source:
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