Date: April 09, 2016
Author: Martin Blake

Day hangs in at Augusta

Jason Day is not out of the race to win his first Masters, but it was a close-run thing.

On a windy, grinder's day at Augusta National the Australian eked out a one-over 73 today to remain within striking distance over the weekend.

At one-over for the tournament, he is five shots behind leader Jordan Spieth, knowing that he needs to go low tomorrow to have a chance.

Three Australians — Day, Adam Scott and Cameron Smith — have made the cut.

For Day, yet again, poor play on the back nine hurt him today. Having reached two-under par through eight holes, he gave back shots on the par-four 11th, the 13th and the 18th holes. At 13, the famous par-five, he hit his approach into the water in front of the green, took a penalty drop, wedged it back into the hazard but was fortunate to have a shot, then holed a long bogey putt.

"Yeah, I'm playing the back side eight-over par,'' he said afterward. "Yeah, it's no good, but I think I worked the front side out, which I'm seven-under par now and just got to tidy up the back side and right now it's really difficult conditions.

"I'm sitting there thinking if it keeps, if the wind keeps up, it's going to be tough and it almost feels like we're just trying to survive out there and feels like a US Open to a point.  It's going to be interesting to see where the scores are at the end of the day and kind of assess from there.''

Day is well-suited to the tough conditions. "That's why I'm just trying to say to myself, just kind of keep myself in it, just got to keep grinding out until it's over and three, four, five shot lead can change in a hole or two."

Adam Scott had a nice even-par round 72 today to be four-over overall, eight from the lead, with the sweet taste of a tap-in birdie to finish. The 2013 Masters champion is not totally out of the running.

Another Australian heading into the weekend is former national amateur champion Smith, who has played well in his first Masters. Smith, the Queenslander, carded a fine 73 today to finish at three-under, having hit the merchandise tents and bought a Masters doggy bowl for his canine pal at home.

He was delighted to know that he would get four rounds in.  "That's sort of the first thing you got to get rid of really, isn't it, and then the next one is obviously doing well on the weekend.  I feel like the game's there and I just need a few more putts to drop, I think, and I will climb my way up the leaderboard."

Steve Bowditch (82 today) missed the cut by miles, while Marc Leishman (77 today) was devastated by a fade-out that cost him his place in the weekend field. The Victorian dropped four shots in the final five holes to miss by a shot, and needing a par up the last, chunked his chip from the front of the green.