Date: April 11, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes

Aussies close but rue slips

Aussies close but rue slips in Augusta:

Posted by Golf Australia on Friday, April 10, 2015

The little things mean so much at Augusta National.

And while four of the five-strong Aussie contingent lived to fight the Masters weekend, they’re all ruing momentary lapses that prevented even higher honours.

Jason Day and 2013 champ Adam Scott head into the weekend well placed at three under and tied for 12th.

Victorian Geoff Ogilvy found a slightly happier place with his putter to card a 70 and be even par, while Queensland veteran John Senden will go around again after a 74 left him one over.

Only Antonio Murdaca will miss the last 36 after the South Australian finished at seven over, five outside the +2 cut.

But far from overawed, Murdaca carved out a nice 73 after his opening 78 – and was tied for leading amateur until bogeys on each of the last two holes left him two behind Canadian Corey Conners. No amateur reached the weekend’s action.

Scott, again, took a long while to kick into gear, but then found it late on the back nine when he raced from even to four under, largely through a magnificent close-range eagle on the 15th.

But just when he stormed into the top 10, a short flop shot on the last found the sand and cost him a bogey that left him 11 shots behind leader Jordan Spieth.

Day was uncharacteristically erratic, including some uncommon errors on the greens from the normally unflappable Queenslander.

His blunders typified the Aussie pro quartet’s issues.

“They were just small little errors … but ones you just can’t afford,” he said.

“I had two three-putts out there and you can’t do that here.

“It’s easy to compound stuff when you’re not quite as sharp as you should be. It’s easy to make a lot of mistakes quickly.

“I was worried about where I was hitting the ball early … I was hitting it off the planet. Obviously the thought pattern was all jumbled up and wrong.”

Day’s issues were compounded when he and playing partners Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia were put on the clock on the eighth hole.

Day copped a frustrating personal warning that would have kicked into a one-shot penalty if there had been another dawdling moment.

Day shot 64 in 2011 en route to a tie for second and knows he needs something similar to get back into the fray.

“But before I shoot 64 I’ve got to find something with my swing because it’s not feeling as comfortable as it should,” he said.

Finding the fairway bunker with his drive on the eighth, hitting a tree off the tee on the 13th when he had to settle for par and missing the green from the middle of the fairway on the 7th for a bogey were jarring moments to go with the three-putts.

“You can’t do silly things like that if you are trying to get up the leaderboard.”

Ogilvy had an agonising 34 putts in round one and could easily have been so much higher on the leaderboard with any luck on the greens.

But some of his brilliant iron play was back on show today, including nearly holing out for eagle on the tough 10th.

And after a rollercoaster round one ride, three birdies against just one bogey today left him ready to attack tomorrow.

Senden went the other way today, carding six bogeys against four birdies to slide back to a tie for 33rd.

The normally metronomic Queenslander was left to rue a few approaches, but none more than dunking his wedge approach from inside 100m on the par-5 15th to a pin that was towards the back of the green and away from the water.

Still, his third consecutive Masters cut made was enough cause for optimism going into the weekend.

Murdaca said he played well during his first round, but found himself out of position in places that cost him four double-bogeys.

Today, the 19-year-old Golf Australia national squad member showed exactly why people rate him a chance to be a repeat visitor to Augusta in years to come.

His 73 featured birdies on all bar one of the par fives and a memorable one on the 10th, too.

Several putts looked promising but veered away – lessons that only a few rounds of Augusta National will teach.