Masters Second Round News & Notes

Masters Second Round News & Notes

Masters Second Round News & Notes
April 6th, 2007

Augusta, GA (Sports Network) - Tim Clark knows it will probably take a major championship for anyone to recognize him.

Not many could pick the South African out of a crowd, and not just because he's 5-foot-7.

"I don't think anyone's ever picked me to do well anywhere," Clark said Friday after shooting his second consecutive one-under 71 at the Masters to share the lead with Brett Wetterich.

It's a shame, too.

In the last four years, Clark has posted a top-five finish in three of the four major championships, including an under-the-radar runner-up to Phil Mickelson last year when he holed out from a greenside bunker on the 72nd hole.

Yet, Clark remains one of the most successful golfers ever without a win on the PGA Tour, although he does have three European Tour victories and two on the Nationwide Tour.

"My major record is pretty decent for people who haven't won a major," he said.

His string of near-successes in the majors is all the more unlikely considering Clark is one of the shorter hitters in the field, averaging just over 276 yards per drive through the first two rounds at Augusta.

That's paltry in the era of Tiger-proofing.

But this week, with so many top players struggling to post good numbers, Clark's control has kept him in the hunt.

"I control my distance very well. And if you don't do that here, you're going to have a tough time," Clark said. "So I feel I'm suited to play major championships because I can put the ball where I want to."

During two breezy and chilly days at Augusta, Clark hit 24-of-28 fairways -- no small feat considering Woods found just 12.

"I'm not the longest hitter, I don't have the greatest short game, but when it gets to the bigger tournaments, I enjoy the challenge," he said.

And that's not just bluster coming from the diminutive co-leader. Clark's post-round press conference was replete with the kind of verbal moxie usually associated with the game's biggest stars.

The closers.

"The pressure doesn't really get to me during the majors. I enjoy the challenge," Clark declared.

"I'm a little surprised even after yesterday...that nobody mentioned me," he protested.

Maybe, come Sunday, everybody will.

WEEKEND WARRIOR

In his first start since withdrawing at Pebble Beach in February, Fred Couples showed us once again why he should never be counted out at the Masters.

The 1992 champion had a four-over 76 on Friday -- his second consecutive 76 -- and made the cut on the number to tie Gary Player's record of 23 consecutive cuts made at the Masters.

His fate was sealed with a virtuoso shot at the 18th hole, a putt from the fringe that appeared to get caught up before it released toward the cup and ended one rotation short.

Couples saved par.

While Player made every cut from 1959-82, Couples hasn't missed the weekend since his debut at Augusta in 1983, when he finished tied for 32nd in his first Masters.

He posted his 10th top-10 Masters finish last season when he tied for third behind Phil Mickelson and Tim Clark.

MASTERS TIDBITS

- Golf's biggest stars fared poorly through the first two rounds, with only Vijay Singh finishing at par or better. Behind the Fijian, Jim Furyk (plus- one), Tiger Woods (plus-three) and Retief Goosen (plus-eight) grinded out scores good enough to make the cut, but Ernie Els (plus-10) did not. Els had his PGA Tour-leading streak snapped at 46 consecutive cuts made.

- Speaking of the cut: It fell at eight-over-par 152, the highest Masters cut since it was 154 in 1982 -- the year Craig Stadler beat Dan Pohl in a playoff after both finished 72 holes at four-under 284.

- 60 players advanced to the weekend. The Masters record is 64 players in 1966.

- Of course, Zach Johnson nearly moved the cut line all by himself when he flirted with reaching four-under at the par-three 16th (any player within 10 shots makes the weekend). Johnson knocked his tee shot to three feet, then proceeded to three-putt for a bogey to fall into a tie for the lead. Two holes later, he made a mess of the 18th and ended the day two shots back at even- par.

- Players near the bottom of the leaderboard shouldn't harbor any fantasies of winning this year. The biggest comeback after 36 holes in Masters history was eight shots by Jack Burke, Jr. in 1956.

- Normally, the first round is when Tiger Woods struggles at the Masters. But his two-over 74 on Friday was a shot worse than his opening-round 73, and it marked his highest single-round score at Augusta since a 74 in the first round in 2005. In each of his four Masters wins, Woods began the third round under par.

- The hardest hole through two rounds was the 505-yard, par-four 11th, which played to an average of more than 4.59 strokes.

- The easiest hole was the 570-yard, par-five eighth, where players averaged less than 4.63 shots.

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