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Fred Couples Shares Masters Lead After Two Rounds as Woods Slips

Lee Westwood of England
Lee Westwood of England hits a tee shot on the 11th hole during the first round of the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. Photographer: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Fred Couples is tied for the lead after the second round of golf’s Masters Tournament, 20 years after his victory at the season’s first major championship. Tiger Woods shot a 3-over-par 75 and fell eight shots behind.

The 52-year-old Couples shot a 5-under 67 today at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, and is 5 under overall after 36 holes. He’s tied atop the leaderboard with fellow American Jason Dufner, who shot a second-round 70.

Couples is playing in his 28th Masters and has had 11 top-10 finishes at Augusta National, including his win in 1992 and a sixth-place finish in 2010.

“It’s a little bizarre,” Couples, who tied for 15th place last year, said of being atop the leaderboard. “A few people asked me how I was going to do this year and I said, ‘I really just want to be competitive.’ This is my favorite place in the world to play. It really was a magical day.”

U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy is among a group of five players at 4 under par after shooting a second-round 69. McIlroy blew a four-stroke final-round lead at the Masters a year ago before winning at the U.S. Open.

“I know I’m playing well, the recent results have shown that,” said McIlroy, who’s ranked second in the world. “I just wanted to try to put myself in position to win another major, another tournament. I just want to keep that rolling.”

One Shot Back

Lee Westwood, Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia and Louis Oosthuizen are also one shot off the lead. Westwood was in the lead until making a double-bogey at the final hole and finishing with a second-round 73. Garcia shot 68, Watson had a 71 and Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open winner, birdied three of the final five holes in a second-round 72.

Woods struggled with the putter and matched his second-worst second-round score in 18 Masters appearances. He carded five bogeys after birdies on two of the first three holes today and at one point kicked his club in frustration after a poor tee shot at the par-3 16th hole.

“I didn’t quite have it today with my swing,” Woods, the pre-tournament favorite, said in a televised interview. “I was 2 under through three and then blew that.”

In Woods’s 14 major tournament victories, he hasn’t posted a score worse than 69 in the second round.

Matt Kuchar of the U.S., Paul Lawrie of Scotland and Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain are tied at 3 under par, while three-time Masters winner Phil Mickelson is among eight players at 2 under. Mickelson shot 68 today to rebound from an opening-day 74.

“I played well and shot something in the 60s that got me back in the tournament,” Mickelson said. “To be only three back now heading into the weekend feels great.”

World No. 1 Luke Donald is 4 over par, making the cut for weekend play by two strokes.

Sixty-three players in the field of 94 finished within 10 strokes of the lead to advance to weekend play. Jason Day of Australia, a runner-up at the Masters a year ago, pulled out of the tournament midway through today’s round because of an ankle injury. He was 5 over par at the time.

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