Cam Smith falls then rises at the Masters
Darren Walton |
Cameron Smith is plotting a weekend birdie blitz after losing ground during a wild and windy second round at the Masters.
Smith found something late to remain in the mix but will start moving day six shots behind runaway leader Scottie Scheffler following a frustrating two-over-par 74.
The world No.6’s round featured errant drives, a penalty stroke, three putts and a succession of other painful near misses on golf’s most treacherous greens.
But two desperately needed birdies down the stretch at least dragged the Australian back into red figures at two under after his green jacket hopes threatened to disintegrate.
After teeing off with a share of the lead on Friday, Smith dropped three shots on the front nine, then another with a shocking three-putt on the famous par-3 12th at Augusta National’s dreaded Amen Corner.
But he regrouped with some laser approaches on his last four holes, sinking birdies on 15 and 18 but unable to convert from short range on 16 and 17.
“I feel as though I hit lots of really quality shots into the green and just really didn’t have any birdie opportunities,” Smith said.
“It was so windy and gusty out there, quite hard to get the speed on the greens as well.
“Two over in the end, probably wasn’t the worst.”
Smith knows he must strike a balance between patience and hitting the panic button if he’s to hunt down Scheffler, who lived up to his new-found world No.1 ranking to seize control of the tournament.
Making light of the brutal conditions, Scheffler surged to eight under and a five-stroke lead over the field with a majestic five-under 67, the joint low round of the day with fellow American Justin Thomas.
“More of the same,” Smith said when asked of his weekend tactics.
“It’s windy tomorrow so, yeah, just stay aggressive. The course will probably firm up a little bit. Just something to be wary of.
“But just stay aggressive and try to make some birdies.”
Four other Australians joined Smith in making the halfway cut – former champion Adam Scott (74), fellow veteran Marc Leishman (75) and Masters rookies Min Woo Lee (75) and Cam Davis (73).
All four are four under for the tournament and a dozen shots adrift of Scheffler.
Scott’s dreams of capturing a second green jacket all but evaporated on the 15th when his approach spun back gut-wrenchingly into the water.
The shellshocked former world No.1 then three-putted to walk off with a disastrous triple-bogey eight.
Scott made up one of those shots with a birdie at the 16th, then bogeyed 17 and made a nerveless sand save on the last to extend his run of Masters cuts made to 13, the second longest streak behind Tiger Woods’ 22 straight.
Davis looked no hope of surviving after tumbling to eight over through 11 holes but finished with a flurry with four birdies in his last six holes in a steely fightback from the debutant.
Lee birdied the 16th to also earn himself a weekend tee time in his first Masters.
Leishman lamented a forgettable day with the putter, unable to sink anything beyond a metre.
“Putting’s difficult, everything’s difficult to be honest,” he said of the treacherous conditions.
Lucas Herbert carded a 76 to slip to six over and miss the cut in his maiden Masters.AAP