Rod Funseth and Tom Watson, two tournament-tested veterans, shared first place at five-under-par 139 at today's halfway point in the Masters - but both heard the heavy footsteps of some 23 pursuers within five strokes of the lead.

A shot back was Bill Kratzer, the only one of the newcomers to break par both days, and Ben Crenshaw, the 25-year-old Texan who is expected to win a major tournament any time.

Washington's Lee Elder made good on his vow that he would bounce back by turning in a brilliant, four-under-par 68 after a first-round 76. He is at even par 144 and very much a contender.

Fifty players of the field of 77 made the cut at 149. Johnny Miller, perilously close to leaving Thursday when he shot a 78, came back with a 71 today to get in under the wire.Arnold Palmer, still the darling of the galleries at 47, turned in a 71 for a 147 total, thanks to an eagle three at the par-five 13th.

Palmer observed humorously that it has been a long time since "Arnie's Army" has had a chance to cheer. "The crowd at the 13th sounded like they had been on the Sahara Desert for a long time and just got their first drink of water," he observed.

Two of the eight amateurs in the field, John Fought and William Sander, current U.S. Amateur champion, made it. But Vinny Giles of Richmond, former U.S. and British amateur champion, failed with a 161.

Among the casualties were three former Masters champions - Doug Ford, Bob Goalby and Charles Coody - and Al Geiberger, one of the top men on the tour.

There were three 67s shot today - by Australians David Graham and Bob Shearer and by Funseth. Elder's 68 was the next-best score.

The early playing conditions were ideal and most of the good scores came in the morning before the wind picked up. There were five eagles made on the par-five second hole today - by Andy Bean, Tom Kite, Bruce Devlin, Crenshaw and Gary Player, who came in with a 70 for a 141 total and in a good position.

Funseth, 44, has been on the tour since 1961 but hasn't won a tournament since the Los Angeles Open in 1973. He had played in four previous Masters, missing the cut once. He never did better than an eight-over-par 296. Today's 67 was only his second sub-par round in the Masters.

Starting the day at even par, he birdied the second hole from 10 feet, bogeyed the third and finished with three straight birdies on the first nine. He birdied the 10th from 25 feet and 15th from 12 feet. "I was jumpy at the start but settled down," he said. "I'm a little surprised with my 67 because I was playing terribly coming to the Masters."

Watson, the 27-year-old Kansas City, Mo., product, has won two tournaments this year and finished second in another. He is the current leading money-winner on the tour with $135,185.

Watson had a 69 today to go with his opening-round 70. He was out in 35 with two birdies and a bogey and home in 34 with three birdies and one bogey, which came on the 18th. He pulled his second shot, a five iron, into the crowd around the 18th green, chipped poorly and left himself a 25-foot putt that he missed.

"I hit a lot of shots thin," he said. "I need to work on my rhythm. I got a little too fast on my swing. I've got to go out and practice."

Kratzert required 30 putts for his round of 71 and saved par three times. He had three birdies and two bogeys for the day. "I'm in a good position to charge," said the 24-year-old University of Georgia graduate. "My concentration was good all day and it doesn't disturb me that I missed several birdie chances. We still have 36 holes to play."

Hubert Green, the first-day leader at 67, took a 74 today. He was out in 37 and back in the same score. "I didn't get it close to the hole on the front nine," he said. "I did better on the back but I still couldn't score well."

Player had 34-36 and thought he should have done better. "I had it close the last six holes and missed every putt," he said. "I felt I played a much better round than my score."

Crenshaw really turned it on with a 33 on the front, including his eagle three on the second hole when he was on in two and sank a 20-foot putt. He came back in 36.

"I was scrambling all day," he admitted. "I hit only 12 greens and I was a lot more fortunate that I was Thursday when I shot a 71. I'm swinging too fast. I've got to be more patient."