SA trio warming to Augusta

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Els leads the South African challenge in seventh position, after carding a par 72 on Friday for a total of 139 for the two rounds to be on five-under. Oosthuizen and Schwartzel are tied in 12th place, two shots behind the Big Easy.

American Jordan Spieth has a five stroke lead going into the third round after adding a round of 66 to the 64 he played on Thursday, to give him the lowest-ever total at the Augusta National Golf Club after two rounds. The 21-year-old is on 14-under, five shots ahead of Charley Hoffman.

Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson and Paul Casey are on seven-under with Johnson writing his own bit of Masters history, by becoming the first player to score three eagles in one round.

2011 champion Schwartzel, who went into the round one-under, was lying on three under for the tournament at the turn. Two birdies and two bogeys saw him play the back nine in par as he again dropped a shot on the last hole.

“I think I lost concentration on the last two holes. I am making no excuses though and nearly made a good save. I felt I played really well for 14 of 18 holes and I felt a lot more comfortable with my golf swing.”

He said that he would go into Saturday’s third round looking to score. “I am here to win. I will try to hit aggressive shots, but I need a hot putter.”

Oosthuizen had the best round of the day for the South Africans as he carded a three-under 69.

He said he had drawn inspiration from Els’ good opening round. “We (South Africans) feed of each other, all of us. When someone plays better than the other one, the next day you want to play a bit better to catch them. So it is great, we are all great friends. We normally play practise rounds together and it is great for us.”

The Mossel Bay-born player said he would go into the weekend without being too concerned about what those ahead of him were doing. “I will just do my thing, try to give myself as many birdie putts as I can. I think on this golf course, with nine holes to go, you can make the decision if you are really in contention to push a bit harder.

Four time major winner Els said he was not unhappy with his par round. “I feel I have got a couple of low ones in me, I just have to get it all together. But it is not yet over. There is still a lot of golf to be played. I would love to shoot two rounds of 67, sit in the club house and see where that takes me.

“I am sure my experience will help me over the weekend I have seen what can happen, I would love to do what I did in 2004 (when he played a 67 in the final round), but do it Saturday and Sunday,” the 45-year-old said.

There was disappointment for the two other South Africans in the field as Branden Grace and Trevor Immelman missed the cut.

Grace started strongly and was one-under for the round at the turn, but then faded on the back nine as he bogeyed both par threes and the 17th to finish the round on one-over for a total of four-over, missing the cut by two.

Immelman was never really in it and added a round of 77 to his 76 of Thursday and finished on nine-over for the tournament.

Els is teeing off with Kevin Na in Saturday’s third round, while Oosthuizen will play with 58-year-old Mark O’Meara. The 1998 champions was four-under on Friday. Schwartzel will be playing in a flight with Hideki Matsuyama. – ANA

Original source: SA trio warming to Augusta

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