The Sunday Mail (Queensland)

Aussie trio charges up behind leading English Rose

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JUSTIN Rose squandered a four-shot advantage, then birdied three of the last six holes to seize a one-stroke lead after Saturday’s second round of the 85th Masters at Augusta.

The 40-year-old Englishman overcame a nightmare start to fire an even-par 72 and stand on seven-under 137.

“Today, ultimately, was a fairly good result in the end,” said Rose, twice a Masters runner-up. “Making a few birdies just makes you feel good out there, for sure.”

Three Aussies are prominent, including Marc Leishman (pictured) , who is two off the pace. The Victorian carded an impressive 67 to vault to a share of fourth at five under, while Cam Smith finished at two under after a hot-and-cold 68 and Matt Jones at one under after a solid 69.

“I’m really happy (to have) got off to a good start and kept it going,” Leishman said.

“Couldn’t be more excited. This is the position I wanted to be in. As long as you’re somewhere near the top, anything can happen.”

But the reigning Olympic champion began Friday with four bogeys in his first seven holes, briefly losing the lead before a sparkling late fightback restored him to the top.

“It was just a classic day at Augusta National. When you’re just a foot or two off you can end up struggling,” Rose

Sign up now kayosports.com.au said. “But I’m still leading so I’ll enjoy it and keep going.”

Will Zalatoris, who could become the first Masters debutant winner since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979, and Brian Harman shared second on 138. The US duo qualified for the Masters off last week’s world rankings, but one could take his first major title by winning the green jacket.

“Three weeks ago, I didn’t expect to be playing in the Masters,” Harman said.

“So after a couple good days to be in contention is just icing on the cake for me. It’s great.”

Zalatoris birdied the last three holes to shoot 68 to put himself in Sunday’s last group, while Harman birdied 17 and 18 to shoot 69.

“It’s a childhood dream to be in the final group of a major on a weekend, especially here,” Zalatoris said.

Jordan Spieth, who snapped a four-year win drought last weekend, shared third with Leishman. Spieth, 2015 Masters and US Open champion, had not won since the 2017 US Open until last Sunday.

A pack three back on 140 included second-ranked Justin Thomas, fellow Americans Tony Finau and Cameron Champ, Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama and South Korean Kim Si-woo.

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