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Willett revels in Masters debut


England's Danny Willett made the cut on his Masters debut at Augusta

England's Danny Willett made the cut on his Masters debut at Augusta

England's Danny Willett made the cut on his Masters debut at Augusta

England's Danny Willett continued to enjoy a dream Masters debut after comfortably making the halfway cut at Augusta National.

Willett won a pair of crystal glasses for an eagle on the 13th in his opening round and carded a second consecutive 71 on Friday to reach halfway at two under par.

That left the 27-year-old alongside 14-time major winner Tiger Woods, albeit 12 shots adrift of the record pace being set by Jordan Spieth.

"This week has been everything I've dreamed of and more," Willett said. "It's fantastic and the amount of people here is phenomenal. The atmosphere and the roars are incredible.

" I've not just scraped over the cut line but I'm up there quite nicely and it's the position I wanted to be in. Take away Spieth and Charley Hoffman (who is nine under) and I'm only three or four back, so I'm really, really pleased."

Former US Open champion Graeme McDowell also made the weekend despite a second round of 74 which left him on one over par.

"I continued to drive it like a wally," McDowell said. "I'm not sure what's going on with the driver, it's one of my strengths normally. I drove the ball terribly the last few days so to make the cut from there, I'm pretty happy with that.

"I had a couple of clumsy three-putts on the front nine today to put me behind the eight ball a bit, but I dug in and birdies on 15 and 16 were very important.

"It's nice to be here for the weekend, get another couple of rounds under my belt and keep building for the rest of the season. Of course I'd love a big finish, but I need rounds, I need reps, I need to see shots."

Ryder Cup hero Jamie Donaldson was alongside Gleneagles team-mate McDowell after a 71 and enjoyed his first experience of playing in the same group as Tiger Woods.

"It was great," Donaldson said. "He's a great bloke. He's a down to earth guy and top fella. I've never played with Tiger before so to do that at Augusta was nice. I enjoyed it.

"It's great to play with players who are better than you so you can learn from them and try to add things to your game that they do. His demeanour is unbelievable. He's so calm - that's the main thing I learned from him."

Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke was also one over after matching Donaldson's 71.

"I want to compete and put some scores on the board," Clarke said. "I've been playing better of late so I just need to keep on doing what I'm doing.

"Augusta is always tough, it's a very stern examination, so this is a good way to start the year in the majors."

Ian Poulter was another player to finish one over par but was not happy with his putting in a round of 72, writing on Twitter: " Really disappointed with today. It's simply unacceptable and disgraceful putting. 34 putts for level par is pathetic."

Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood made the cut on the mark of two over par, with Westwood having lipped out for an albatross on the par-five second in his second consecutive 73.

Former champion Bernhard Langer, Shane Lowry, Luke Donald and Stephen Gallacher all missed out by a single shot, with debutant Lowry writing on Twitter: "Can't believe that's going to miss the cut. Thought I had just done enough. Gave it my best but just not good enough. #gutted."

Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington was another casualty on five over par.

"It was a disappointing finish yesterday evening and I sort of carried that into today," he said.

"I suppose I lost a bit of momentum there. I was playing nicely (yesterday) but bogeyed 16 and 17, which weren't the toughest holes, so it was a disappointing finish and I came out and bogeyed the first hole today and after that I was always on the back foot."

PA Media