Norman doubles lead in Masters Two-day total of 132 good for 4-stroke lead

April 13, 1996|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The hardest hole of the day turned into a springboard for Greg Norman.

After his three-foot birdie attempt slid by the cup at No. 11, Norman was getting impatient in the second round of the Masters. He shook his head and tried to get the stroke back at No. 12, where the wind above the pines nearly pushed his 7-iron vTC moonshot into Rae's Creek.

Fourteen inches from a penalty stroke, Norman considered his good fortune, chipped to within one foot to save par, then birdied three of the last six holes to post a 69.

"If it went in the water, I would have panicked," Norman said. "I wasn't that concerned. Bottom line, yeah, maybe I was a little bit."

Thanks to that turn of events, Norman's lead doubled, but so did the pressure.

Norman, who opened with a course record-tying 63 Thursday, has a two-day total of 132, just one stroke off the Masters record. He padded his cushion from two strokes to four at Augusta National Golf Club, but there's a solid pack at his heels, led by two-time champion Nick Faldo.

Faldo jumped into second place with a 67, his best round here since 1990, when he won his second straight Masters.

There's a chance of thundershowers this afternoon, and the two foreigners threaten to rain on the Americans' parade. Phil Mickelson, who began the day two strokes behind Norman, needed a birdie on No. 18 to get a 73 and a third-place tie at 138 with South African David Frost.

Lee Janzen and Bob Tway were another stroke back at 139 after rounds of 71 and 72, respectively. Scott Hoch, first-time starter Scott McCarron and Fiji's Vijay Singh were at 140, eight strokes behind Norman.

The best round of the day and the biggest movement up the leader board was provided by Corey Pavin, the U.S. Open champion who followed his opening 75 with a 66.

Faldo is considered the biggest threat to Norman, who is eager to make amends for his past failures in the majors.

"He's the best player in the world," Janzen said of Norman. "There's a reason for that. It's because he's practiced harder, and he's got an expectancy level of himself to perform higher than the rest of us. I know he wants to win this badly. The good thing is that everyone else wants to win it badly, too."

"There's a lot of scores up there from the guys who've got the capability," said Norman, who has 16 PGA Tour wins, but no major title in the U.S. "All I do is shoot the best I can. . . If it rains tonight or tomorrow morning, the greens will soften up, and it will be a scoring feast."

Norman was quite content with par at No. 12, which was ranked the hardest hole of the day. The same tee shot a year ago would have gotten wet.

"It was spongy there; there was a lot of water on the bank," Norman said. "They haven't done what they did last year to the front of 12, where they shaved it down. They left a little long grass there. I think it's a great move, considering what happened to me today."

Fred Couples was the beneficiary of a similar break in 1992, when he won the Masters. Norman mentioned that, but he was more interested in current events than history, like the three-foot putt he missed on No. 11 after a gorgeous 8-iron to a pin placed in the front of the par-4.

"That was the quickest putt I've ever had in my entire life and ever will have for the rest of my golfing days," Norman said. "I took the putter back maybe half an inch. There was no pressure on my putter grip. It either had to go in, or I knew I was going to have a six-footer."

Norman birdied the par-5's on the back nine, Nos. 13 and 15, and had a four-foot putt on No. 18 for another.

For the second straight day, the back nine played easier. Faldo, who bogeyed No. 1, got four of his six birdies there, and 1991 champion Ian Woosnam and Pavin sizzled there with a 32.

Pavin birdied Nos. 10, 14 and 15, and had one of the day's three eagles on No. 13, where he got on in two with a 4-iron and made a 30-foot putt. Pavin, who bettered by one stroke the fourth round 67 that got him a third-place finish here in 1992, is 7-under since the first nine Thursday, when he opened with a 40.

"There's two more rounds to go," Pavin said. "If I can keep playing like I did today, I'll have a chance to win."

The Masters

The leader . . .

Greg Norman 63-69132

. . . and selected followers

Nick Faldo 69-67136

David Frost 70-68138

Phil Mickelson 65-73138

Bob Tway 67-72139

Lee Janzen 68-71139

Scott McCarron 70-70140

Corey Pavin 75-66141

Jack Nicklaus 70-73143

Fred Funk 71-72143

Complete scores: 9C

Pub Date: 4/13/96

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