Cameron Smith was exhausted. And cold. Two days of playing in front of a Masters group featuring Tiger Woods on his return to competitive golf, plus brutal conditions on Friday at Augusta National, had taken it out of the Australian.
“Yeah, it was a pretty long couple of days,” Smith said after shooting a gutsy 74 to sit at two-under-par. “A good rest is needed for sure.”
It will only get tougher for Smith, who will have to defy history in order to reel in runaway leader Scottie Scheffler. Smith is six shots behind world No.1 Scheffler, who fired a red-hot 67 to earn an eight-under total.
Scheffler”s five-shot lead, over a group including former Masters winner Charl Schwartzel, Sungjae Im, Shane Lowry and Hideki Matsuyama, equals the largest 36-hole lead in Masters history. Of the previous five who held a five-shot halfway lead, four went on to win the green jacket.
But Smith fought hard to ensure he has at least a chance. He went out in three over and added a fourth bogey at the 12th, but birdied two of the last four holes to stay within reach. After making a 4 at the par-5 15th, Smith stiffed an approach into 18 and made the five-foot birdie putt.
“It got quite frustrating there at some points during today, but it’s easy to say that you can get unlucky around here,” he said. “It’s just the way the golf course is. It demands quality golf shots, and if you don’t hit them, you’re going to make some numbers.”
ive-time PGA Tour winner Smith will continue to press on Scheffler, as much as windy conditions at Augusta National will allow. More wind and cold temperatures are forecast for Saturday’s third round.
“I’ll stay stay aggressive; I think the course will probably firm up a little bit,” he said. “That’s something to be wary of, but I’ll stay aggressive and try to make some birdies.
“I typically don’t love the cold, but I’ll do some extra warming up in the morning and get the body prepped for a good one tomorrow.”
Five-time Masters winner Tiger Woods shot 74 to sit at one-over, safely inside the cut which fell at four over. He continued his record of never missing the cut at the Masters as a professional, a remarkable feat given he was in a single-car accident that heavily traumatised his right leg.
“Hey, I made the cut,” 15-time Major winner Woods said. “I’ve got a chance going into the weekend. It’s going to be cool tomorrow. I think it’s going to be the golf course that Augusta National wants. It’s going to be quicker, dryer, faster, and it will be a great test.”
Of the other Australians, 2013 Masters winner Adam Scott (74), Cam Davis (73), Min Woo Lee (75) and Marc Leishman (75) are at four over.
Scott made a clutch par save from the greenside bunker on the 18th to make the cut on the number. He played in Scheffler’s group and was amazed at his 67, which equalled Justin Thomas for the round of the day.
“That’s Augusta National; you live on a knife’s edge every hole honestly, and I was playing with a guy who made it look easy. But that’s how he’s playing at the moment,” Scott said of Scheffler, who has won three PGA Tour events in the past six weeks to rocket to the top of the golf world.
Lucas Herbert rounded out the Australian contingent and shot 76 to fall to six over and he missed the cut.