Tiger Woods arrived at the 64th US Masters the centre of attention. Winning 13 tournaments in a year will do that. It is now more than 12 months since David Duval, the world No 2, has won a tournament. But while Woods was struggling to get back into red figures after an opening 75, Duval scored a second-round 65 to take the clubhouse lead at six under.
Duval has never scored lower in a major championship but the most noteworthy aspect of his round, the best of the tournament to date, was that he did not drop a shot. The consolidation of the front nine was rewarded when the 28-year-old played the last seven holes in six under. He led by one from Vijay Singh and Ernie Els, who both had 67s, and three from Tom Lehman.
"It is great that I have played well so far," Duval said. Having been defeated by Mark O'Meara's birdies on the 71st and 72nd holes two years ago, he knows the job is far from complete, however. "I am not too concerned about my position right now. The only goal is to be leading when we are done on Sunday. This helps, though."
Ever since last November - he skipped the AmEx World Championship at Valderrama - Duval has concentrated on peaking for this season's majors. So much so he was relieved to arrive at Augusta on Monday. "It was like a great weight being lifted off me," he said. As is obvious from his lean frame, lifting weights has been a huge part of his preparation. Last year, he won four times at the start of the season, but was disappointed not to win a major.
"I probably wasn't as focused on winning earlier this season," Duval said. "I was more concerned about peaking with my game and my strength for this stretch onwards. I have made no secret in my goals for winning majors."
A five-iron to five feet at the 15th set up an eagle, while he holed from 12 feet at the last for a closing birdie. With the 10-shot rule in operation for the 36-hole cut, that meant the defending champion, Jose Maria Olazabal, would not qualify despite also making a three at the 18th to be five over.
Being in contention in this tournament has generally been short-lived. Dennis Paulson, the surprise overnight leader, soon lost the top spot by going to the turn in 40. Lehman, at three under, has only been over par on two of the first 36 holes but suffered a double bogey at the 18th on Thursday and another at the 15th yesterday.
Darren Clarke also yo-yoed up and down the leaderboard in an extraordinary 71. The Irishman birdied three of the first six holes, was five over for the next five and then had four birdies in a row from the 13th. A dropped shot at the last could not spoil his mood. "I am swinging fine," Clarke said. "This course gives you nothing. I thought I was doing fine but then it jumped up and caught me. To be one under at Augusta is never bad."
The mid-round slide, including a double bogey at the 10th, was halted by holing a second putt of eight feet at the 12th. "Before I'd have been looking for Chubby [Chandler, his manager] to get in touch with British Airways," Clarke said. "But I am trying to be more patient and that's what I was today. To respond with four birdies hopefully underlines how my game is progressing."
With Sergio Garcia, two under overnight, a late starter, the leading European in the clubhouse was Bernhard Langer on two under after a second 71. Ian Woosnam scored a 70 to get back to level par but was frustrated at missing a number of short putts. "If it wasn't a major, I'd go home," Woosie said. "I could kick it better into the hole."
Colin Montgomerie helped his cause by holing a seven-iron from 167 yards for an eagle-two at the fifth. An eventful front nine for the Scot, whose putting suffered a relapse in a first round 76, also included two birdies, a bogey and a double. Out in35, Montgomerie made two birdies coming home for a 69 to be one over.
Monty was only the sixth player to eagle the fifth, but Jack Nicklaus did it twice during the 1995 tournament. Away from the nostalgiafest surrounding the threeball of Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, the Bear played remarkable golf for a 60-year-old. He added a 70 to his earlier 74 to be level par. There is no dampening the competitive desire of Nicklaus. "I told myself, get realistic Jack, they wouldn't have paired us together if they thought any of us could win."
Nothing riles Nicklaus more than the assumption he is is incapable of winning. "I can't just relax and go play. The gallery was terrific and that is always nice. You know, I'm a funny duck. I came here to play golf."
second- round scores
138 D Duval 73 65
139 V Singh (Fiji) 72 67, E Els (Rsa) 72 67, P Mickelson 71 68
141 T Lehman 69 72, S Jones 71 70
142 B Langer (Ger) 71 71, J Sluman 73 69, L Roberts 73 69, R Goosen (Rsa) 73 69, S Garcia (Spa) 70 72
143 B Estes 72 71, J Leonard 72 71, D Clarke (Gbr) 72 71, N Price (Zim) 74 69, F Funk 75 68
144 D Paulson 68 76, I Woosnam (Gbr) 74 70, J Nicklaus 74 70, N Faldo (Gbr) 72 72, M Ozaki (Jap) 72 72, P Azinger 72 72
145 M Weir (Can) 75 70, C Montgomerie (Gbr) 76 69, S Elkington (Aus) 74 71, S Gump 75 70, R Mediate 71 74, L Mize 78 67, P Harrington (Ire) 76 69
146 J Haas 75 71, D Hart 75 71, J Huston 77 69, (x) D Gossett 75 71, J Van de Velde (Fra) 76 70, C Parry (Aus) 75 71, D Toms 74 72, G Day 79 67
147 MA Jimenez (Spa) 76 71, S Pate 78 69, J Furyk 73 74, C Franco (Par) 79 68, D Love 75 72, H Sutton 72 75, B Jobe 73 74, S Maruyama (Jpn) 76 71, T Woods 75 72, S Cink 75 72
148 M Brooks 72 76, T Bjorn (Den) 71 77, C Perry 73 75, J Parnevik (Swe) 77 71, G Norman (Aus) 80 68, N Begay 74 74, S Kendall 76 72, F Couples 76 72
149 JM Olazabal (Spa) 72 77, B Tway 77 72, (x) D Green 73 76, D Waldorf 78 71, J Maggert 77 72, (x) A Baddeley (Aus) 77 72
150 C Pavin 80 70, S Appleby (Aus) 73 77, M O'Meara 75 75, B Geiberger 76 74, G Player (Rsa) 76 74, (x) Kim Sung-yoon (SKr) 75 75, C Stadler 73 77
151 S Lyle (GB) 79 72, G Hjertstedt (Swe) 78 73, T Watson 75 76
152 N Ozaki (Jpn) 75 77, L Westwood (Gbr) 77 75, L Janzen 76 76
153 J Daly 80 73, (x) H Haas 80 73, P Lawrie (Gbr) 79 74
155 K Triplett 76 79, B Crenshaw 79 76
156 T Tryba 75 81, F Zoeller 82 74
157 B Watts 78 79
158 T Herron 84 74, R Floyd 80 78
159 (x) G Storm (Gbr) 83 76
160 A Palmer 78 82
162 S Ballesteros (Spain) 81 81Reuse content