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Early starters chase leader McIlroy


Leader after round 1 Rory McIlroy. Photo: Getty Images

Leader after round 1 Rory McIlroy. Photo: Getty Images

Leader after round 1 Rory McIlroy. Photo: Getty Images

Conditions were perfect again, but the pin placings looked a lot harder for the second round of The Masters at Augusta today.

South African Charl Schwartzel, joint seventh overnight following a three under par 69, was the first player to tee off and from just short of the opening green he chipped to six feet and made it to stay four behind Rory McIlroy and Alvaro Quiros.

The long-hitting Spaniard would be the first of them back on the course at 10.41am, while McIlroy had to wait until 12.42pm to resume his challenge.

Not surprisingly, Quiros led the driving distance statistics by nearly 10 yards in the first round, averaging 309.5 yards.

But the 21-year-old Northern Irishman ranked joint third in putting, taking just 26 in his pacesetting 65.

Schwartzel bogeyed the short fourth and was only two under, but England's Ian Poulter revived his spirits with a birdie-birdie start to be back to level par.

Poulter dropped four shots in the final four holes of his first round for a 74, but he holed from 40 feet at the first and then chipped to five feet on the long second.

Ian Woosnam, using a shooting stick to rest between some shots, also birdied the second, but a bogey two holes later returned the 1991 champion, now 53, to six over and a ninth missed cut in 10 years loomed.

Poulter, joint halfway leader with Lee Westwood a year ago before slipping back to 10th, made it three birdies in a row and was up to one under, but a bogey followed two holes later.

Korean YE Yang, joint third at five under, bogeyed the first, but responded with birdies on the next two and moved to six under, one behind McIlroy and Quiros.