Watson charge continues
Published 11/04/2014 | 07:02
Bubba Watson continued his impressive bid for a second Masters title in three years in the early stages of the second round on Friday.
Watson was the only player in the 97-strong field to card a bogey-free round on a testing opening day at Augusta National, the left-hander's 69 containing three birdies and 15 pars.
And the flamboyant world number 12 had still not dropped a shot by the time a birdie on the seventh took him into a share of the lead with Bill Haas on four under par.
Australian Marc Leishman had briefly held the lead on five under par when he started his round with birdies at the first three holes following an opening 70.
But the 30-year-old, who was in the penultimate group on the final day last year and famously celebrated as playing partner Adam Scott birdied the 72nd hole, followed that with bogeys at the fourth and fifth.
Leishman was joined on three under by Masters rookies Kevin Stadler and Jonas Blixt, who had both carded opening rounds of 70 and birdied the par-five second today.
And former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, who lost a play-off to Watson in 2012, was two under after 11 holes of his round following two bogeys and one birdie.
Conditions were again perfect for the early starters, but recent history suggested the odds were against those not already high on the leaderboard.
The last eight winners of the year's first major championship had been inside the top 10 after the first round, which was good news for the likes of Watson and defending champion Scott, who was among the late starters.
Rory McIlroy rewrote numerous records in his eight-shot victories in the 2011 US Open and 2012 US PGA Championship, so the 24-year-old would not be too worried about being joint 12th overnight.
However, the Northern Irishman was concerned about being in the last group out just before 2pm local time, with tough pin positions, firm greens and wind forecast to gust up to 20mph set to make life difficult.
The top 50 players and ties will make the halfway cut, along with any player within 10 shots of the lead.