Jeev tied 21st in tough conditions at Masters


Georgia (US) : Jeev Milkha Singh held on despite dropping two shots over the notorious Amen Corner to bring home a two-over 74 that saw him make the cut in tied 21st place for the second successive year Friday.

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The Indian ace is determined to move into the top-15 by the end of the week to ensure a return trip to next year’s Masters.

Jeev, who shot a 71 on first day scrambled to a two-over-par 74 to safely make the halfway cut, but things were not as pleasant for his friend, Daniel Chopra, who shot a 78 with a back nine of six-over 42, to crash out of the weekend rounds on his Masters debut.

Also exiting at midway stage were two Asian Tour stars, Asian Tour No.1 in 2007, Liang Wen-chong and an injured Prayad Marksaeng, who pulled out after a nine holes due to a bad back. Korean star K.J. Choi fired a 75 to total 147 as the cut came at 148.

The cut was at three-over 147, leaving a short field of 45 players for the weekend.

With conditions noticeably tougher, Jeev, the Asian Tour’s number one in 2006, turning in 35 at the Augusta National, but then three bogeys on 11th, 13th and 17th saw him drop to 21st. The forecast calls for thunderstorms Saturday, with a cold front behind it.

Jeev is nine shot behind the leader, South African Trevor Immelman, who four months ago was in a hospital recovering from the removal of a benign tumour from his diaphragm. He added a second four-under 68 to build a one-shot lead over Brandt Snedeker.

Jeev, who is 21st in the company of US Open champion Angel Cabrera and British Open winner Padraig Harrington, was candid and admitted, “I drove the ball poorly. I was disappointed with that and lost confidence on the back nine. I tried to hit it too hard with my driver and I think that’s what got me. It was one of those things. My rhythm became too quick.”

“I’m still alive for the weekend and we’ll see what happens. I’m pretty happy with the invitation (from Augusta National) and if I can finish in the top-15 or top-20, I think that will justify that. That’s the goal now. I don’t feel like I have to justify the invitation but if I can do it, I will feel good about it.”

After saving par from 12 feet on the seventh hole, Jeev moved into red numbers in the sub-par region with a two-putt birdie on the par five eighth hole. But he gave the shot back on the 11th hole, the first of a three-hole stretch that forms the notorious Amen Corner, after sending an errant drive into the pine trees.

Jeev hit a great approach into the par three 12th but failed to convert the six-foot birdie chance and was disappointed to drop another shot on the par five 13th hole when he sent a lob wedge approach into the greenside bunker.

“I was disappointed with 13. I had a lob wedge in and turned it into a bogey. I was trying on every hole. I had a goal of not shooting over par on any four days but I did that today,” said Jeev.

“I missed some good birdie chances but I made a few putts too. So no real complaints. I’m here for the weekend and I’m going to give it a go. I’m comfortable on the golf course and I love the way it sets up.”

Liang, who along with Singh and Prayad, was invited to the prestigious Masters, dropped three bogeys on each nine as he signed off with a 78 and a 10-over-par 154 total.

Starting the day at four-over-par, Liang set himself a target of shooting an under par round to give himself a chance of qualifying for the weekend play. But early bogeys on the first and third holes left him with a mountain to climb.

Tiger Woods added a 71 to his 72 to hang in at one-under 143 but is seven behind the leader. It will require his second best comeback ever to win from here. Woods has never won any of his 13 majors when trailing after 54 holes.

There was a lot of wind and it took its toll and only then Woods seemed in control. He birdied the 17th after getting to within two feet but then saved a tough par on 18th after driving into the trees.

Phil Mickelson, who has won the green jacket two of the last four years, shot a bogey-free 68 to be three shots behind at 139 along with Ian Poulter of England and Steve Flesch, whose 67 was the best score of the week.

Big names missing the cut included Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia, Aaron Baddeley and Fred Couples, who will not play over the weekend for the first time in his career. The 1992 Masters champion missed a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole and shot 72 to miss the cut by one shot.