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Akshay, Sahith make cut; Scheffler among three leaders as Woods sets another record at Augusta

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Akshay, Sahith make cut; Scheffler among three leaders as Woods sets another record at Augusta

Augusta, April 13 (Ajit Weekly News) Indian-Americans Akshay Bhatia and Sahith Theegala handled the tough and windy conditions at the Augusta National Golf Club to make the 36-hole cut in the 88th Masters.

Bhatia, 22, who won the Valero Texas Open last week, shot (72-75) to be T-30, while Theegala (74-74) was T-35, despite a triple bogey.

World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler held on in strong winds though he missed a few birdie chances. He shot even par 72 which included three birdies and three bogeys, but of the four Par-5s, he had two birdies but also gave away a bogey on one. Scheffler, who won the Masters in 2022, shared the lead with overnight leader Bryson DeChambeau (65-73) and Max Homa (67-71) at 6-under 138.

Nicolai Hojgaard (67-73) was fourth at 4-under, while Cam Davis (69-72) and Collin Morikawa (71-70) after a long time came into contention in a Major, and they were tied fifth.

Ludvig Aberg, one of the rising stars of world golf, was the only one to shoot under 70 with a 69 and he was 2-under after two rounds in the seventh spot.

Korea’s Byeong Hun An was hanging on to dear life and anything that he could, including his cap, on another wind-swept day. A battling one-over 73 after a 70 on the first day, he was close to the leaders. He is five behind the leaders.

Tiger Woods, meanwhile, rewrote more Masters history by breaking a tie with Gary Player and Fred Couples when he extended his streak of consecutive made cuts at Augusta National to 24 after carding a 72 to sit on 1-over, just seven back of the leaders and was T-22.

The 82-time PGA Tour winner and five-time Masters champion is not prepared to only think of making cuts in whatever limited appearances that he makes these days following spells with various injuries and surgeries. “I’m here,” he said. “I have a chance to win the golf tournament.”

An, 32, produced two wonderful birdies late in his round at Augusta National to stay in the title fight at the year’s first major and will enter the weekend five shots back of Scottie Scheffler (72), Max Homa (71) and Bryson Dechambeau (73), who lead on 6-under.

Another tricky day saw winds blowing from between 24 to 32kph, with gusts of up to 56kph. Only eight players returned under par scores, while eight others shot 80 or worst, including reigning FedExCup champion Viktor Hovland who carded an 81 to be amongst the high-profile names to miss the halfway cut set at 6-over.

An is still seeking a first PGA Tour victory, let alone a major win where only two Asian male golfers, Y.E. Yang (2009 PGA Championship) and Hideki Matsuyama (2021 Masters Tournament), have achieved the feat.

Matsuyama (74) and An’s compatriots, Tom Kim (78) and Si Woo Kim (76), made the 36-hole cut right on the number while Masters debutant Ryo Hisatsune (78) and Sungjae Im of Korea (74) failed to advance into the weekend.

Scheffler summed up the day’s conditions saying, “I think for me mostly it was just trying to manage my way around the golf course, and that’s pretty much it. Just trying to make as many pars as you could and trying to leave it in the right spots.

“But it’s just so difficult when you can’t tell where the wind is coming from. You can only make really an educated guess and try to go from there. For the most part, I think we did a pretty good job today.”

Woods, who is just seven behind, said, “I’m right there. I don’t think anyone is going to run off and hide right now, but it’s really bunched. The way the ball is moving on the greens, chip shots are being blown, it’s all you want in a golf course today.”

On the physical challenge, he added, “Yeah, I’m tired. I’ve been out for a while, competing, grinding. It’s been 23 holes, a long day.

But I really did some good fighting today, and we’ve got a chance.”

Bhatia, playing his first Masters, while talking about the conditions, said, “The wind, the swirling winds was tough. Certain lies, there’s not a lot of options to hit it close. It’s a pretty tough stretch from 10, 11, 12, and I haven’t taken advantage of the par-5s really.

So, yeah, it’s a great test, though. It’s fun. It’s been a crazy couple — a week or so. Still just going through everything.”

He added, “You’ve got to hit it in the right spots. I’ve short-sided myself a lot, but my short game has been excellent this week. It’s just hard to kind of judge the winds. You could hit a great spot with what happens out here. It’s really tough for how firm the greens are getting.”

Theegala admitted he did think about the cut, as he said, “(Was thinking) Quite a bit, honestly. After the third hole today, I was 5-over. It was still too early to really think about it, because all I was thinking was I’ve got three par-5s and a decent amount of holes that are playing easier because of the wind, just downwind holes.

Yeah, I definitely thought about the cut starting probably on 15. On 15 there were two big boards with the projected cut, and I figured it was so windy that it was going to go to 4-over, which I think it might even go to 5. But yeah, definitely think about whether you want to play four rounds, especially out here, being a major championship and a small field.”

Rory McIlroy, seeking to complete a Grand Slam by winning the Masters – he has won the other three Majors – did not have a single birdie, but had a double bogey and three bogeys in his 77 and at 4-over he was T-35.

Defending champion Jon Rahm after being in danger of missing the cut, produced a gritty finish with birdies on 15-16 and hung into T-44th place and make the cut.

Some of the known names who managed to get inside the cut line included former Masters winner, Hideki Matsuyama and Adam Scott, Rickie Fowler, veterans Vijay Singh (61 years), Jose Maria Olazabal (58) and Phil Mickelson (53).

The big names missing the cut included the reigning Open champion, Brian Harman (81-72), the 2015 Masters winner Jordan Spieth (79-74), Justin Thomas, Viktor Hovland and Dustin Johnson, the 2020 Masters winner.

–Ajit Weekly News

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News Credits – I A N S

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