Rose wilts at the last

Justin Rose missed a chance today not only to retain a share of the lead, but to put some daylight between himself and the rest of the field going into Masters weekend at Augusta.

Justin Rose missed a chance today not only to retain a share of the lead, but to put some daylight between himself and the rest of the field going into Masters weekend at Augusta.

Compared to what happened three years ago when he was in pole position, though, the still relatively inexperienced Rose will content himself with the fact that he remains right in the thick of things.

The 26-year-old, whose opening 69 made him joint top with American Brett Wetterich, was the last player to tee off in the second round and had nothing better to beat than the two under par totals of Wetterich and South African Tim Clark, last year’s runner-up to Phil Mickelson.

However, Rose could not manage a single birdie the entire day and with bogeys at the first, 10th and 18th – where he three-putted – and handed in a 75 for a level-par aggregate and joint fourth place.

Home town player Vaughn Taylor is third on his own.

Back playing in the event for the first time since he led at halfway in 2004 and then crashed to a Saturday 81, Rose had opportunities for birdies from inside eight feet at the 13th, 14th and 15th, but they all slid by.

Conditions were again far from easy, of course, but the finishing bogey really took the edge of his day’s work and left him alongside Vijay Singh and Americans Zach Johnson and Jerry Kelly.

The tournament is wide open entering the final 36 holes and there is plenty of European interest.

After a 68 Padraig Harrington not only re-ignited his hopes, but gave himself the chance to create history.

Nobody has won at Augusta National after an opening 77 or an eight-stroke deficit after the first round, but his seven-birdie performance – matched as the low score of the week so far by Ryder Cup team-mate Paul Casey only 10 minutes later – brought the Dubliner back into contention for a first major title.

Harrington was on the same one-over-par mark of 145 as another of Ian Woosnam’s heroes last September, David Howell (75), and also Welsh debutant Bradley Dredge (70).

They were in a tie for eighth place only three behind Clark and Wetterich, who returned rounds of 71 and 73 respectively.

Tiger Woods, like Howell, had a real rollercoaster ride, but from five over with four to go he birdied the 15th and 17th for a 74 that kept him in the hunt in joint 15th at three over.

Playing partner Casey’s 68 was an 11-stroke improvement on his error-strewn opening day effort and it brought him back alongside the world number one, who still has a chance to make it five green jackets, a third major in a row and his 13th in all.

Harrington said: “I thought the course was an excellent test and set up very well. It was a good mental test – when to go for pins and when to play safe.

“You’ve got to give it your full attention. Yesterday I messed up a lot of simple shots.” That included pitching into the lake on the 15th for a triple-bogey eight.

On his return to that hole he birdied and then put the icing on the cake with another at the last.

Woods, who ended his opening 73 with back-to-back bogeys, had four more in a front-nine 39.

He then found Rae’s Creek both on the 12th and 13th, but got out of the two holes dropping only one shot, a 22-footer for a bogey being followed by a pitch-and-putt par.

Casey sank a 40-foot eagle putt on the long second, just after Luke Donald (also three over after a 74) had pitched in from 40 yards for another three.

Casey then nearly aced the short 12th.

Howell, in a tie for third when he resumed, needed two attempts to get out of a greenside bunker on the first for a double bogey, then hooked horribly at the 575-yard second and had to take a penalty drop from the bushes en route to another six.

He fought back to stand level par with one to go, then hit another wild one into the trees and did well to drop only one shot.

“An interesting day,” was his summation. “I’m not in control of the ball as I would like to be – I haven’t been all year – but I’m not going to be a million miles away at the end of the day.

“I’m in the hunt again at Augusta, which is wonderful.” He was in contention two years ago until he ran into a red-hot Woods in the third round.

Woods hit his first two drives into bunkers. On the opening hole he then three-putted from just short of the green, while at the par-five second he still might have birdied, but missed an eight-foot chance.

Further bogeys, however, came on the fourth and seventh and while he did make a birdie at the uphill 570-yard next the ninth left him furious. He had to chip out left-handed from the base of a tree, then spun his third off the front of the green.

Etting up and down from there was vital to his hopes and he did. In his runaway 1997 victory, of course, he started with a front-nine 40, then covered the inward half in 30 and his birdie at the 10th was ominous for the rest.

But there were more problems to come.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson bogeyed the first, fifth and sixth to slump to seven over, but steadied to survive to the weekend on five over.

Playing partner Richie Ramsay, the Scot whose win in the US Amateur last August was the first by a Briton since 1911, was on course to become to make the halfway cut since Peter McEvoy in 1978 when he stood five over with nine to play but played them in 43 to exit along with compatriot Colin Montgomerie, Ernie Els, Darren Clarke, Sergio Garcia and Kenneth Ferrie – and also Seve

Ballesteros, who finished dead last on 22 over after rounds of 86 and 80.

Henrik Stenson made it through easily enough, but for the second day running Europe’s top-ranked player stood two under after the front side.

On Thursday he came home in 38, on Friday it was 42.

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