Sandy Lyle, in the midst of a hot streak that has made him the year's No. 1 money winner, solved the mystery of the glassy Augusta National greens Friday to shoot a 5-under-par 67 and move two shots in front at the midway point of the 52nd Masters.
The venerable tournament received unusual and harsh criticism from former champion Fuzzy Zoeller Friday and a familiar burst of bitterness from Lee Trevino. Despite the difficulties found on the Augusta National course, Lyle moved into position to claim his second major title.The Scotsman who won the 1985 British Open posted a two-day total of 6-under 138. Mark Calcavecchia, making his second Masters appearance, shot a 69 for a 36-hole total of 4-under 140.
With 36 pressure-packed holes remaining, Lyle still had several big names with which to contend.
Zoeller was tied for third at 142 with Gary Hallberg, who led this event after the first round three years ago. Former champions Tom Watson and Bernhard Langer were at 143 along with Fred Couples, Chip Beck and Don Pooley.
Hubert Green and first-round co-leader Robert Wrenn were at even-par and the group at 145 included Seve Ballesteros, Ben Crenshaw and Craig Stadler all Masters winners.
Curtis Strange was at 146, having made the first Masters hole-in-one in 16 years during his round of 70. Larry Nelson, who tied Wrenn for the first-day lead, slipped to a 78-147.
Six-time Masters winner Jack Nicklaus was in the group at 148, having shot a 73 Friday. Defending champion Larry Mize was 11 shots off the pace at 149 and Greg Norman posted a 150 and barely made the cut.
Those missing the cut included Paul Azinger, Ian Woosnam, Andy Bean, Arnold Palmer and Trevino.
Zoeller's 66 was the low round of the tournament. Despite being in contention to win his second Masters, Zoeller said the Augusta National greens were brutally unfair because of the combination of firmness and quickness. (See related story below).
Zoeller's comments were not echoed by Watson, long known as an advocate of golf traditionalism.
"The greens are perfect," Watson said. "It is what a major championship is all about."
When Watson was told about Zoeller's remarks, he said: "Well, what do you expect from someone whose name begins with `Z."'
In between Zoeller and Watson, there were players like three-time Masters champion Gary Player, who shot a 75 Friday and missed the cut at 153.
When asked whether the greens were unfair, Player, famed for going out of his way to compliment even the worst of golf courses, paused for a full 10 seconds and said:
"Very close to it."
While Zoeller's criticism was unexpected, that coming from Trevino was not.
"I hope they don't send me an invitation (next year)," said Trevino, who has only one year left on a five-year exemption he earned by winning the 1984 PGA. "I'm gonna go pray. I don't want to be here."
Masters chairman Hord Hardin, when asked about the latest Trevino complaint, said it was nothing new.
"We don't make him come," Hardin said. "We would like for him to come and do well and get whatever is troubling him behind him. He doesn't have to accept our invitation and we reserve the right to withdraw that invitation."
Lyle already has won two tournaments on the American tour this year and leads the PGA circuit in money earnings with $408,021.
His recent play suggests he qualifies for consideration as the world's best current golfer.
"Obviously this guy Sandy Lyle is doing pretty well," said Couples, who was 4-under for the tournament before playing the last last five holes in 3-over.
"I'm playing quite well now," Lyle said. "I know the course pretty well after six years. My confidence slipped after I won the British Open, but it's come back now.