Euro fightback at Augusta

2006-04-07 17:40
Augusta - Sweden's Carl Pettersson and Sergio Garcia of Spain were leading a European fightback at the Masters early in the second round on Friday.

The 28-year-old Pettersson, who plays all his golf on the US PGA Tour, started the day at level par but back-to back birdies on his first two holes saw him move onto the leaderboard.

Garcia, who failed to make the cut last year, parred the opener after a wayward tee-shot left him with a tough second to the green and then birdied the next two to also get to two under for the tournament.

Thursday's opening round was disappointing for the strong European contingent with only England's David Howell ducking under par on 71, four strokes off the lead set by Fiji's Vijay Singh.

Next best on even par were Garcia and Pettersson alongside Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain and Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland.

Padraig Harrington of Ireland was on 73 alongside Thomas Bjorn of Denmark with the fancied Luke Donald and a battling Colin Montgomerie a further stroke back.

European No 1 Montgomerie, who has missed the cut in his last four outings at Augusta, sunk a downhill 15-footer for a birdie four on the second to move to one over and then parred the next seven holes to reach the turn at 35.

The big Scot was pointedly low key after his first round playing down his chances of improving on a poor record at Augusta, where he has missed the cut on three of last four appearances.

"Not a disaster," was his assessment of his round. "Just very difficult, which is what it is supposed to be I suppose."

Horrendous opening nine

Harrington also birdied the second to get back to level par following a horrendous opening nine of 40 on Thursday which he followed with a brave 33 on the back nine.

Clarke had five straight pars to open with but former European No 1 Lee Westwood was struggling with two bogeys at the first and fifth to move to four over for the tournament.

Howell, Jimenez and Donald all had later starts.

No European has won the Masters since Jose Maria Olazabal's second green jacket triumph in 1999, the same year Paul Lawrie won the British Open, the last time a European won a Major.

Olazabal opened with a disappointing 76 on Thursday and is struggling to make the cut, while other former Masters winners from Europe - Nick Faldo, Ian Woosnam, Sandy Lyle and Bernhard Langer - were all facing early exits after struggling to cope with the lengthened yardage at Augusta.

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