Masters 2012: Rory McIlroy shoots 33 on front nine to creep up leaderboard

Lee Westwood began the second round of the Masters Friday as if he were playing the U.S. Open, reeling off 10 straight pars to start his round – and barely protect his overnight lead. And on a cool, blustery Friday more suited to Westwood’s native England, that allowed a slew of players to be poised to join him atop the leaderboard – even before Tiger Woods teed off.

Sweden’s Peter Hanson overcame a double bogey start and reeled off three consecutive birdies to join Westwood at 5 under as Hanson approached the turn. More intriguingly: Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, who led after each of the first three round here a year ago, shot 33 on the front nine – with birdies at Nos. 3, 4 and 7 – to get to 4 under, just behind Westwood and Hanson.

Woods, the four-time champion who struggled to an even-par 72 Thursday, was due to tee off at 1:42 p.m.

All this came on a chilly Friday that served almost as the complete opposite of the sultry opening day of the tournament. Sweaters were in order when Westwood teed off at 9:40 a.m., and though the environment suited the first-round leader, he struggled to start. He missed an eight-foot birdie putt at the first, and his tee shot at the second found the trees on the left, and he had to scramble for his par there.

That left others in position to move up. Ben Crane followed his opening 69 by making two birdies and one bogey through 14 to get to 4 under. South African Louis Oosthuizen, who also opened with 69, double bogeyed the par-5 second – normally thought of as a birdie hole – to fade away, but made birdies at 14, 16 and 17 to get back to 4 under.

And in the half hour before Woods teed off, a remarkable name popped on the leader board. Fred Couples, the 52-year-old with a chronically bad back who won the 1992 Masters, used birdies at 7, 8 and 9 to turn in 33 and get to 3 under for the tournament, just two back of Hanson’s lead.

Barry Svrluga is the national baseball writer for The Washington Post.
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