Golf: Nightmare on Magnolia Lane: Peter Corrigan sees a Welshman rue his luck in a less than perfect partnership

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The Independent Online
IAN WOOSNAM and John Daly have found themselves locked together in a downward spiral, and the Welshman is to ask if he can play with someone else for a change. They both returned sad 77s yesterday, the third consecutive day at Augusta they have shared a round and the same score.

They played together at the Tournament Players' Championship in Florida recently and were paired at last year's Open, US Open and the USPGA. People are beginning to talk but none more frankly than Woosnam. 'I've nothing against John, he is a great guy and we get on well but playing with same partner all the time can be doing neither of us any good,' he said.

Woosnam's partnership with the big-hitting American seems to be regarded as a marriage made in heaven by organisers who often try to create crowd-pleasing pairings. They have similary aggressive natures but neither is playing well and since Daly has stopped drinking at least one topic of conversation has gone for a burton. There is also the factor that Daly inevitably attracts a large and noisy gallery and new partners would be a fair move.

Daly took part in an interesting cameo yesterday. Indeed, an enterprising sponsor could have founded a nice little tournament before the sun burned off the early morning chill of Georgia yesterday - the Augusta British Masters, very much a subsidiary of the main event and contested in some despondency by the four remnants of the largest UK invasion in the history of the year's first major.

A private battle was about all there was left for them to fight and being top Brit is better than being top nothing. The longer it goes on, however, even that is becoming debatable. The US Masters has seen many a great recovery but the British are comtemplating no more than a weary rearguard action. Nick Faldo, Sandy Lyle and Woosnam have between them won four of the last six Masters but they only just made the cut. They are used to donning the green jacket on Sunday evening, not being handed the British Airways timetable on Friday afternoon.

Even though they made the cut instead of the plane, the pleasure of the escape was barely noticeable on their faces. 'I'm sick of playing crap and, if I could, I would go home right now,' said Woosnam, who improved after his outward 40 but still finds nothing to admire about his game.

Faldo came back in two under par but his 39 on the way out had already burdened his day. 'I had some very funny swings on the front nine,' he said. 'My swing gets too narrow and I squirt it right. The course is getting more difficult. The pins are on the limit and Augusta is the toughest I've ever found it.'

Faldo was playing with Sam Torrance and trailed the Scot by one shot after nine holes. But his second nine improvement brought birdies at the 13th, 15th and 16th for a 73 that puts him one ahead of Torrance.

Lyle, by virtue of being a shot better overnight, began an hour later than his fellow Britons but soon emulated their high scoring. A horrendous hook on the second started the rot and he took 41 to the turn. Dropped shots at the 13th and 14th sent him back with a 78.

At least Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, the greatest threesome of modern times, all missed the Masters cut for the first time - and they have 13 green jackets between them.

Peter Baker - who missed the cut along with Barry Lane and Colin Montgomerie - found some consolation in Nicklaus's fate. 'If you are going to go, to have played with Nicklaus and suffered the same fate as him is a great comfort,' he said.

Indeed, the British might have been more cheerful than Payne Stewart, who did a Captain Oates. The colourful American packed his bags for an early exit after shooting his second 78 on Friday and announced that he was leaving the Tour . . . and he might be a little while. 'It's not so much my game, it's my attitude that's wrong,' he said. 'I'm not doing myself or anybody else any good. I haven't been laughing much lately and I won't come again until it's fun. That could take a time.'

With a day remaining in which to make their mark and, perhaps, avoid compliling one of Britain's worst Masters records for some time, our heroes may not have reached that stage yet. But if it is fun they are after, this tough edition of the Masters is obviously not delivering.