AUGUSTA, Ga. — The luck of the draw put Jason Day in the final group Friday.
He made sure he will be in the same group on Saturday.
Day, 25, from Australia, who finished second two years ago in his inaugural Masters, looked comfortable in the twilight. He birdied the 16th hole and held on to shoot a 4-under-par 68.
That was the best round of a difficult day at Augusta National, in which only five players broke 70. And it moved Day to 6-under par and a one-stroke lead after 36 holes.
Fred Couples and first round co-leader Marc Leishman are at 5 under.
Angel Cabrera, the 2009 champ who birdied five of the final seven holes to shoot 69, is at 4 under along with Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker.
Tiger Woods was tied with the leaders for most of the afternoon. But on the par-5 15th, his approach struck the flagstick and bounced into the front pond, setting up a bogey.
Then Woods 3-putted the 18th hole to slide to 3 under (70-71).
“The sun was in my eyes (on the 15th) so I knew I started it on the flag,” Woods said. “I didn’t know if I cut it enough but evidently it was a really good one.
“Even my misses were on top of flags today. I really swung the club well and didn’t get a lot out of the round. The wind was swirling all over and I got some wrong gusts.”
Woods had a 27-putt day, but Day had only 25 and needed only 17 in the 11 greens he hit in regulation. He hit his tee shot on the 12th into Rae’s Creek but rallied for bogey, and then birdied 13 from 8 feet.
“I hit a great 4-wood there around the corner from the tee,” Day said, “and then I kept the ball under the trees, because it doesn’t get affected by the wind as much. But generally I’ve been trying to hit the ball to the corners instead of hugging the corners.
“This is my favorite tournament. Every shot I hit today felt like it was the biggest shot of my life. Tomorrow will be a lot of pressure, because no Australian has ever won the Masters. But it’ll also be a great opportunity, no doubt.”
Leishman, making the cut for the first time at the Masters, could have slid off the board when he bogeyed No. 4 and No. 6. But he birdied 7 and 8 and then hung on to shoot 1-over 73.
“I put it in some places you can’t put it and got away unscathed,” he said. “It’s for sure the best 73 I ever shot.”
Tinglang Guan, 14, the Chinese amateur, was docked one stroke for slow play, the first time Augusta National has ever levied that penalty. However, he still made the cut at 4-over par.
One Masters tradition endures. No player ever has shot four rounds in the 60s here, and that won’t happen this year.
©2013 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)
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