AUGUSTA, Ga. — Charles Howell III grew up just a few miles from Augusta National Golf Club, but the way he figures, he’ll never feel right at home at the Masters.
Howell was two under par through two rounds, still in contention. But he wasn’t feeling comfortable.
“I know some players like a (Phil) Mickelson, I’ve heard him say a lot of times he feels great and really comfortable every time he gets to Augusta,” Howell said. “It’s a place I’ve never been 100 percent at ease with yet. It’s a hard golf course. It’s set up right on the edge of playable but very difficult, and it’s hard to ever feel really comfortable here.”
Howell played the course numerous times growing up, and he seems to cherish those memories more than actually playing in the Masters.
“It’s a lot more fun when the ropes aren’t up and it’s not a golf tournament,” he said. “It’s just different. I think you can enjoy the golf course then a bit more.”
Howell was in contention with an interesting scorecard on Friday. He had no bogeys or birdies, just 17 pars and an eagle at the 15th hole.
Bubba Watson was one shot out of the lead after two rounds. He missed a short eagle putt on the 13th hole and had an interesting explanation afterward.
“It was about a sixâ€‘footer and I’m not very good at putting, so I missed it,” he said. “I made an easy birdie, though. I made sure I made birdie.”
One Masters streak will continue as no player broke 70 for both of the first two rounds. Nobody’s ever put together four rounds in the 60s in a Masters.
The cut came at 149, thanks to the Masters’ 10-shot rule. Sixty-three players made the cut, one shy of the all-time record.
The top 44 plus ties and any player within 10 strokes of the lead make the cut. The record number of players to make it is 64 in 1966.
As it turned out, Fred Couples and Jason Dufner finished tied for the lead at five under par, and the 10-shot rule kept 19 extra players around for the weekend.
Three amateurs made the cut and will be vying for the low amateur medal.
Hideki Matsuyama, the two-time Asian Amateur champion, was the low amateur at the Masters last year. He was one over par through two days.
Kelly Kraft and Patrick Cantlay were both five over.
Knoxville’s Scott Stallings made the cut but fell from contention. A second-round 77 left him plummeting down the leaderboard.
After making just two bogeys during a first-round 70, he bogeyed seven of the final 15 holes in the second round.
Stallings played collegiately at Tennessee Tech. He earned his Masters invitation by winning the Greenbriar Classic last year in a playoff over Bob Estes and Bill Hass. He made six birdies on the back nine that day.
This year, Stallings had only made two cuts in seven tournaments before coming to Augusta.
“There’s so much newness to this for me just to understand it’s a major championship, let alone a Masters,” Stallings said. “I’ve held this tournament in such high esteem my whole life, and now to be a participant, it’s something that you’ve got to learn a lot from. You can’t get too far ahead of yourself, and all the cliches that kind of go along with it.”
In a Masters rarity, one group played through another on Friday.
After Mark O’Meara withdrew with a rib injury on Thursday, it left Chez Reavie and Martin Laird as a twosome. They were the second group off for the second round and were waiting a lot for the only group in front of them.
So Scott Verplank, Sean O’Hair and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano waved Revie and Laird through on the fourth hole so they’d be out front.
“Those guys were waiting for us on every shot yesterday and I didn’t want to make them wait again,” O’Hair said. “It was just more of a courtesy thing than anything.”
Jason Day, who tied for second here last year, withdrew after seven holes on Friday. He came in with an injured ankle he hurt during training. He was five over par for the week when he pulled out.
Randy Lewis of Michigan, the U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, shot a 78 in his final round. He missed the cut but left with a lifetime of memories. His round on Friday beat several notable players, including British Open champion Darren Clarke.
“The whole experience has been an amazing journey for me,” said the 54-year-old Lewis, the oldest first-time Masters participant. “It’s just been a wonderful experience from start to finish. It’s been just incredible.”
The weather for today’s third round is expected to be nice, with sunny skies and temperatures in the high 60s.