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Apr 12, 2014

Back nine surge keeps Scott in Masters contention

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) – Adam Scott, who has honed the art of patience at the majors in recent years, kept his Masters title defense on track with a superb back nine in difficult conditions on Friday.

Just as he did last year on the way to his maiden victory in a major, the Australian world number two shrugged off a shaky start to the second round, three birdies after the turn helping him card a level-par 72 at a sun-baked Augusta National.

Apr 11, 2014

Slick Masters conditions remind Olazabal of 1999

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) – Jose Maria Olazabal’s victory at the 1999 Masters is often referenced as the last time Augusta National played fast and firm throughout the tournament but the Spaniard believes this year’s edition could match it.

Despite the heavy rain and lightning on Monday that forced practice to be suspended after just two hours, the heavily contoured layout has since quickened in pace after four successive days of bright sunshine and swirling winds.

Apr 11, 2014

Bjorn again in form as he makes Masters move

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) – Thomas Bjorn has been playing some of the best golf of his life over the past eight months and he made that count on Friday as he charged up the leaderboard with a scintillating finish at the Masters.

The 43-year-old Dane birdied four of the last five holes to shoot a four-under-par 68 in the second round, despite tricky scoring conditions at Augusta National on a firming layout in swirling winds.

Apr 11, 2014

Bubba revels in pressure-free Masters start

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) – Twelve months after succumbing to the pressure of trying to retain his Masters title, Bubba Watson delivered a near-flawless display to soar up the leaderboard in Thursday’s opening round at Augusta National.

The power-hitting American left-hander, who is renowned for his audacious brand of ‘Bubba’ golf, was the only player in the field of 97 to go bogey-free as he fired a three-under-par 69 on a firm, fast-running layout.

Apr 10, 2014

Patience a virtue for McIlroy in Masters sunshine

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) – Three years after suffering a final-round meltdown at the Masters, Rory McIlroy got back into contention for the year’s opening major with an impressive display of patience and grinding golf on Thursday.

On a sun-baked Augusta National layout where danger lurked at every corner because of swirling winds and quickening greens, the Northern Irishman eked out a one-under-par 71 to sit three strokes off the first-round lead.

Apr 10, 2014

Vintage Masters start by wine-loving Jimenez

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) – Just like the Rioja wine he loves to drink after a round of golf, Miguel Angel Jimenez seems to get better with age and, apart from two shots, the Spaniard was in sparkling form at the Masters on Thursday.

The 50-year-old from Malaga, who bettered his own record as the European Tour’s oldest winner at the Hong Kong Open in December, birdied four of the first nine holes on the way to a one-under-par 71 at Augusta National in the opening round.

Apr 10, 2014

Masterful starts by debutants Stadler, Blixt and Walker

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) – The Masters has been won by only three debutants since the tournament was launched in 1934 but Jonas Blixt, Kevin Stadler and Jimmy Walker made impressive starts on Thursday to raise expectations of a fourth.

First-timers Stadler, Blixt and Walker all recorded two-under-par 70s in the opening round to climb into early contention for the year’s first major, taking advantage of relatively calm morning conditions in dazzling sunshine.

Apr 10, 2014

‘Big Three’ get 78th Masters under way in bright sunshine

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) – In front of a huge crowd, the ‘Big Three’ of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player launched the 78th Masters on Thursday while Adam Scott prepared to begin his title defense later in the day.

On a glorious morning of bright sunshine at Augusta National, four-times champion Palmer, three-times winner Player and Nicklaus, who won a record six green jackets, hit the ceremonial first shots at the par-four opening hole.

Apr 9, 2014

Tiger’s absence leaves 78th Masters wide open

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) – As the first of the year’s four majors, the Masters has always been keenly anticipated and this week’s edition should be one of the most open in decades with the absence of world number one Tiger Woods.

Former world number one Rory McIlroy has predicted that 70 players in the field of 97 are capable of clinching the coveted green jacket with multiple champion Woods out after having surgery to repair a pinched nerve in his back.

Apr 9, 2014

Faldo likes Scott’s chances of repeat Masters win

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) – Nick Faldo is one of only three players who have claimed back-to-back Masters victories and he rates Adam Scott’s prospects of joining that illustrious group as “good” in this week’s edition.

Scott has enhanced his status as one of the game’s leading players with a superb run of form over the past year, but needs to avoid “getting wound up about defending” if he is to retain his Masters crown, according to Faldo.