A dramatic day at Augusta National saw Rory McIlroy facing disqualification, Anthony Kim set a new Masters birdie record and two American Ryder Cuppers sit on top of the leaderboard going into the weekend.
McIlroy was the subject of a ruling investigation following his second round. After finishing with a triple-bogey seven on the 18th and signing for a one-over total for his round, he was told of a possible infraction in a bunker on the same hole.
Officials were locked in a room for two hours, reviewing whether the Irishman kicked sand while his ball still lay in the bunker on the last after his first attempt to get it out had failed. If so the 19-year-old should have given himself a penalty stroke and will go from just making the cut for the weekend to being disqualified for having signed for an incorrect score.Eventually it was ruled that McIlroy had not 'tested' the bunker, but that he was smoothing over the sand, which is allowed!
Fellow Irishman Padraig Harrington was another victim of the rules, when the wind moved his ball on the 15th. Harrington had already addressed the ball before it happened, so he was handed a one-stroke penalty to shoot a 73 to stand at -2 for the tournament.
He said: “I was a bit unlucky because I was going to stand off it to change the line when a gust blew the ball three feet. It’s a strange ruling because it’s happened to me before it wasn’t a penalty, but I was quite pleased to hole the putt in the end. I felt good walking to the 16th tee.”
It was a better day for Ryder Cup star Anthony Kim, who set a new record for the number of birdies in a round at Augusta National on Friday – but he still finds himself five shots off the pace, set by fellow Americans Chad Campbell and Kenny Perry.
Kim reeled off 11 birdies in his round, beating Nick Price’s 10 in 1986. But he threw in two bogies and a double at 11 to shoot a best-of-the-day 65.
He said: “It feels like a 58 right now. I mean, I just tried to stay steady. Even though I made a bogey on 9 and a double on 10, and I three-putted early on hole No. 4, I just said, “Stay steady.” The first goal is to make the cut, and then make a run on Saturday and Sunday. The putts kept following so I just kept walking them in and going to the next hole.”
Kim’s round was the best of the day, a day which saw scoring conditions tougher than Thursday thanks to a stiffer breeze and trickier pins.
But no-one seemed to tell Campbell or Perry, who shot 70 and 67 respectively to sit on top the leaderboard at 9-under.
Perry – a 48-year-old tour veteran who infamously turned down the chance to play in last year’s Open Championship, started with a birdie, and then shot 33 on the back nine. If he wins, he’d become the oldest Major champion ever.
He said: “Everything is just going great. I understand what I’m trying to do, what I’m trying accomplish it. Can I? I think I can. I really believe I can win this Tournament. Will I? I don’t know.
“But I’m driving it beautifully. I’ve switched one club in my bag from my four wins and it’s my driver. I put this new driver in play and I told my caddie "I think I can win a US Open with this driver, because I’m driving it so straight." I’ve probably lost five to seven yards in distance, but it’s given me a lot of confidence in straightness. I probably missed three fairways this whole week, at the most, and I hit 15 greens yesterday; I probably hit 16 today. My iron game is really good.
"My putting, my touch is really good with my putter. I’ve got great speed. I just need to figure out a way to read the greens a little bit better. I hit it close on 13, 14. I hit it really close and I missed them. I had my opportunities, you know, but I made some good putts. I made a great putt on 12. I was pretty nervous. I hit two of the best 3-irons of my life on 10 and 11. I had 228 into 10. I hit it beautiful 3-iron right over that bunker and drew it right in there 15 feet from the hole and 11 hit 228 again, I had the same number both holes and I was able to hit it towards the middle of that bunker almost pin-high right and couldn’t convert there either.
"“The 12th hole was a pivotal hole for me. I hit a beautiful 8-iron. It was 152,153, I forget the yardage exactly. I was nervous. That wind was blowing really hard on 11 and it’s hard to get a feel, is it coming in that hard, is the trees behind it going to block that shot, and just was committed to it. Tried to shoot it right over that bunker and got it on and made about a 25-footer back down the hill to keep the train rolling.
“So it’s been an awesome, very relaxed, very comfortable two days. I only missed two shots today. How many times can you say you missed two shots? I missed a sand wedge on the eighth hole and an iron on 16. I pull-drew it off the slope a hundred feet away or whatever. I was really in command of my game the last two days.”
Campbell couldn’t quite repeat his red-hot form of Thursday, which saw him reel of five birdies in a row from the first – a new Masters record – but his 70, including an outward nine of three-under, sees him maintain control of the leaderboard going into the weekend.
The Texan, who is very comfortable playing in the wind, said: “I felt really good all day out there today. I probably felt even better today than did I out there yesterday, even though I was not playing as well. Felt got the whole day. I look at the leaderboards a little bit; you have an idea where you stand, but I always do that. I always like to look and see what everybody is doing. I felt good all day, and hopefully feel that way the next couple of days.
“You’ve definitely got to be very patient and stay positive. I mean, I’m going to have some bad holes. I’m probably going to make some bogeys; hopefully not. But don’t get too down when you do. You know, there are some holes that you can make birdies on, and you know, like I said, just be patient and just try to play one shot at a time.”
Argentina’s Angel Cabrera has sole possession of third on 8-under after a 68, which included a birdie on 18.
Tiger Woods had another day to forget, as he struggled to get hit putter going again. He left several putts on the lip, and capped off a disappointing level par 72 by bogeying the 18th after lipping out.
Leading the British challenge is… Sandy Lyle… yes, Sandy Lyle, the 51-year-old champion here in 1988. The Scot reeled off five birdies in a row on the back nine, to get to three under, but finished with a bogey on 18. Even so, he’s here for the weekend for the third year in a row. Graeme McDowell is also at -2 after a 74.
Europe’s charge is being let by Sergio Garcia, who birdied the 18th to shoot a 67 and finish the day on four-under. It was the Spaniard’s first round under par at Augusta since 2004.
The best score turned in by Friday’s early finishers was Todd Hamilton’s 70. Larry Mize followed his opening 67 with a 76. Tom Watson soared from a 74 to an 83 - his worst score ever at the Masters.
Hamilton was a big surprise. He plunged completely off the charts since his improbable Open win five years ago -- arriving at Augusta ranked No. 373 in the world - but mustered a 68 on Thursday, easily the best round of his Masters career. He posted another good score in round two, especially with the tougher conditions.
Gary Player went out for the final round of his Masters career, which has stretched to a record 52 appearances, and culminated in a rapturous welcome on the 18th green. He shot 83.
Fuzzy Zoeller also made his farewell appearance, deciding to call it quits on the 30th anniversary of winning at Augusta on his very first try.
“I’ve got one more in me,” said Zoeller, who had no expectation of making the cut and fulfilled it by shooting 79 on Thursday and 76 on Friday.
Big-name casualties of the one-over-par cut line included Greg Norman (+3), Adam Scott (+2), Retief Goosen (+2) Robert Karlsson (+3), Oliver Wilson (+3), Ernie Els (+2) and 2007 champ Zach Johnson (+8).
US amateur Drew Kittleson also missed the cut, but he’ll remember his final round at Augusta for a very long time – his back nine included two eagles, a three at 15 and a miracle two and the ultra-tough par-4 11th.
See our specialBirdies and Bogeys verdict on the day's action!