AUGUSTA, Georgia — An Australian golfer has never won the Masters.
In fact, they’ve lost a few in heartbreaking fashion, most famously perhaps by Greg Norman — twice.
But if there’s ever a year that appears to have their name on it, this is the one. Jason Day leads the tournament at 6 under and Marc Leishman is in a share of second a stroke back. Adam Scott is in a crowd of seven players tied for seventh at 3 under, followed by John Senden, who is part of a six-way group in 14th place at 2 under.
“If you look at it as pressure, you’re going to worry about it more,” Day said. “If you look at it as a challenge and an opportunity to be the first and stay positive with it, you know, it only motivates you to play well.”
PACKING UP: Six former Masters champions and another quintet of major winners won’t be around for the weekend at Augusta.
But the biggest story related to the cut was still Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old Chinese sensation whose 4-over score — which included a one-stroke penalty for slow play — left him in the field of 55 players heading out for round three Saturday.
There were few surprises among the past Masters champions leaving town. Mike Weir was the youngest of the group at 42, and his golf game hasn’t been sharp for a while.
Among the major winners departing were three former British Open winners — Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Louis Oosthuizen — and defending U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson.
The biggest surprise, in fact, may have been Hunter Mahan. He shot 82 after an opening-round of 76 left him in a tough spot.
FLY LIKE AN EAGLE: Bill Haas wasn’t the only guy who made an eagle — there were 11 in all Friday.
His short iron that bounced twice and rolled straight into the cup at the 460-yard, par-4 ninth wasn’t even the only eagle that came from the fairway; there were three of those.
But Haas’ was the only one almost upstaged less than a minute after he knocked it in. Haas had barely finished high-fiving his caddie when a fan yelled at his playing partner, Jason Dufner, “Put it in, Duf!” — and he nearly did.
Dufner’s approach landed just inches left of the hole, and as the gallery around the green roared, it rolled out to four feet. As consolation, though, Dufner, made the birdie putt.
OR DON’T: To be fair, the windy conditions and diabolical pin placements made eagles of any kind tough to come by. At no place was that more true than at No. 15, where the number dropped to two just a day after 10 golfers made 3s on the 530-yard, par-5 hole.
“Yesterday that wind was kind of down and right on 15,” Jim Furyk said. “Today it was mostly in and on the right. So, totally different, a totally different look.”
One way to illustrate the difference was how, and how well, Furyk played the hole both days. In Thursday’s opening round, he hit a hybrid for his second shot, landed it on the green and settled for par. On Friday, he used the same club to lay up short of the pond.