SA golfers feel US Masters pressure

2013-04-14 14:00

The first two rounds of the US Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia have seen two of the eight participating South Africans failing to make the cut.

First to bite the dust in the second round was George Coetzee, who was followed by former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen.

Coetzee seemed set to make the cut on the second day, but overnight leader Australian Jason Day’s birdie on the 16th hole did not bode well for the South African, forcing him to register two over par for a total of 74 to finish on +5.

Oosthuizen, who came close to winning last year’s Masters after a play-off with defending champion Bubba Watson of the US, forfeited his chance of advancing to the next round. He registered a disappointing 76 to take him to six over par, thereby missing the cut by two.

But despite Coetzee and Oosthuizen bowing out, six other South Africans qualified for the third round, which was played last night.

They are Charl Schwartzel, Tim Clark, Trevor Immelman, Branden Grace, Ernie Els and Richard Sterne.

The Masters competition is stiff and the chances of a South African clinching it this year look somewhat remote.

Not that there is any difference compared to other years, but this year they are up against the world’s finest players.

Schwartzel, the erstwhile Masters champion, was four strokes behind pacesetter Day in the second round after posting -2 for a total of 71.

Immelman’s second-round scorecard read -1 for 75, five notches behind overnight leader.

As for the rest of the South African contingent that made it to the third round, their scores were nothing to write home about.

It would have required great showing and consistency on the tricky and unforgiving Augusta fairways for the local lads to have upstaged the likes of Day, Marc Leishman, and Americans Jim Furyk, Tiger Woods and Fred Couples.

Leishman, an Australian, commanded the leaderboard in the first round before he shared the lead on day two with Woods, whose bogeys ultimately made him to drop shots to -3, leaving Day on -6 for 68 as the frontrunner.

The presence of 14-year-old Guan Tianlang, a Chinese schoolboy who became the youngest golfer to compete in the history of the Masters, added colour to the contest.

A composed Guan played brilliantly throughout the opening two rounds, with accurate drives and pitch shots on the green.

He finished on +4 for a total of 75 in day two – an impressive showing for a youngster. But he was hit with a one-shot penalty for slow play on the 17th hole on Friday.

With the final round teeing off today, there is no doubt that sparks will fly, with hot contenders for the green jacket being top seed Woods, Furyk (36) and Day (24).

» This report does not include last night’s play

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