Joint first round leaders Trevor Immelman and Justin Rose went in opposite directions on their return to The Masters at the second day at Augusta National.
But sadly for Rose and his followers, Europe’s number one last season was the one going into reverse.
While Immelman repeated his opening 68 for an eight-under-par total and one-stroke halfway lead over American Brandt Snedeker, Rose turned in 38, then slumped to a triple-bogey eight at the long 15th and dropped another shot on the next.
The eight came when he pitched into the water fronting the green, went long with his next attempt and then almost chipped back into the lake.
Rose finished with a 78 and fell into the pack on two-over, but fellow Englishmen Ian Poulter and Paul Casey did pick up the gauntlet thrown down at the start of the day by Immelman.
The South African, his life given a new perspective when he was operated on for a benign tumour in December, is making a spectacular return to the course where a year ago he was put out of action for over a month by a stomach parasite.
Poulter followed up his opening 70 – highlighted by a hole-in-one at the 16th - with a 69 to sit alongside left-handers Steve Flesch and Phil Mickelson in third place.
He said: “I am in a great position – certainly the best I’ve ever had in a major – and it could be a great weekend.”
Ninth is his highest finish in golf’s four biggest events.
“Playing the way I am, I am feeling pretty confident. I’ve played really solid, holed the right putts at the right time and you have to have a little bit of luck, as I did at the 16th yesterday.”
Keys to his round were saves on the third and fifth from seven and 20 feet. “They were probably one-in-10 up and downs.”
Casey’s closing 10-foot birdie putt, meanwhile, meant he posted a 69 for four-under and joint sixth spot.
Tiger Woods improved from level-par to one-under with an eventful 71, but slipped from four behind to seven adrift.
He mixed four birdies with three bogeys, two of them the result of three-putting on the lightning-fast greens.
The world number one stood one-over with six to play, but two-putted the 510-yard 13th, hit close at the 17th and then salvaged a remarkable par on the last.
Deep in the trees off the tee – far from his only wild drive of the week – he played his second down the adjoining 10th fairway and after his pitch over a bunker had hit the ball of playing partner Stuart Appleby when it looked as if it might roll to tap-in distance he made the eight-foot putt.
“Until the wind died down it was quite a fight to figure what was going in,” he said. “Obviously I’ve got to make a few more birdies and eliminate the mistakes.
“I’ve just got to be patient. Anything can happen.”
Lee Westwood got to four under, but then came a double bogey seven on the 13th after he twice went into the creek and by missing a four-foot birdie opportunity on the last he had to settle for a 73 and two-under total. That was still good enough for a share of 11th spot.
It was just after Immelman had beaten Rose to the Nedbank Challenge in Sun City four months ago that he started feeling pains.
“I went to the doctor and we eventually figured out that I had a tumour on my diaphragm,” he said.
“They had to go in between the 10th and 11th rib and cut through the intracostal muscle. It was some pretty scary stuff and it took a couple days to get the results back, so that was pretty hair-raising.
“But luckily enough it’s all benign and it’s all been removed.”
A bogey at the short sixth today came between his first two birdies and on the back nine, just as the wind started to freshen, he picked up further shots on the difficult 11th – his second three there in a row – 17th and 18th.
Casey has not been in the hunt at any tournament this year, but commented after closing with a 10-footer: “It’s nice week to start playing well.
“I’d never shot under par in the first round until the first day. That always put me behind the eight-ball, so this is a different mindset.
“I can’t be as aggressive and you always have to be wary of this course, but it was nice to have Trevor’s eight under there because it gave me something to chase.”
Westwood said of his seven: “I tried to hook it too much off the 13th tee and lost my grip a bit.
“Then for the pitch I was on a bit of a sidehill and downslope and caught it a bit fat.
“But I am still in what I think is a decent position. Anything can happen here. If it gets tough, which it probably will, I am capable of shooting two 70s.”
The cut fell at three over, knocking out Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia and Ernie Els, but 50-year-olds Ian Woosnam and Sandy Lyle made it and so did Open champion Padraig Harrington and debutant Nick Dougherty on one over.