AUGUSTA, Ga. — The LSU two are through to the weekend at the Masters, but for David Toms and John Peterson, getting there was not without a struggle.
Like many golfers Thursday, both took advantage of the misty, moist conditions that made Augusta National Golf Club’s green hills run red with sub-par numbers. Toms shot a 2-under-par 70 and Peterson a 1-under 71, putting both within five strokes of the lead.
But the empire struck back Friday with a vengeance. After some morning rain, the sun came out to dry the greens and the winds came up.
And so did the scores.
Toms was 4-over until he birdied 16 and 18 with a pair of dart-like approach shots within 3 or 4 feet to shoot 74 and reach the midway point at even-par 144. Peterson managed just one birdie as he struggled to a 77 that put him at 4-over 148 and in a tie for 52nd place.
“Par was a good score on every hole, I thought,” said Toms, who is playing in his 15th Masters. “There weren’t many low scores (Friday). I think that was done on purpose. All the pins were really tough to get to. They were a lot tougher (Friday) than they were (Thursday). Throw in the wind, and they were very difficult.”
Augusta National chairman Billy Payne announced Wednesday that the club was expanding the cut line from the low 44 and ties to the low 50 and ties. It also retained the rule that allows anyone within 10 shots of the lead to play the weekend as well.
Thanks to leader Jason Day’s inability to get to 7-under, Peterson is still playing along with the others at 4-over, a group that includes defending champion Bubba Watson and 14-year-old amateur Tianlang Guan.
When he left the course, Peterson was fuming at an opportunity to play all four rounds of his first Masters that he thought he’d fumbled away. A missed 7-foot birdie putt on the 18th had the former LSU All-American and 2011 NCAA champion mentally packing his golf bag for the trip home to Baton Rouge.
“I was sweating it out,” Peterson said, watching Day finish in one of Friday’s final groups. “I thought I was completely out. I thought I had to make the putt on 18 to even have a chance. It was tough. I really struggled. Just a bad round of golf, a lot of rookie mistakes. I’m glad to have another day.”
Peterson needed a couple of tough up-and-downs on Nos. 1 and 3 from below the front of both greens to even shoot a 4-over 40 on the front nine that included a double bogey on the par-4 seventh.
He made his only birdie on the difficult downhill 505-yard par-4 11th but then had to hit and hope on the short but treacherous 155-yard par-3 12th, the heart of Amen Corner.
“The tee shot on 12 was almost a guess,” he said. “The wind was blowing 15 to 20 miles per hour and swirling. I had no clue which club to hit. So I just grabbed one and knew I had to get it over the creek and I hit that one, but I made bogey there.”
Despite the slow-play penalty controversy surrounding Guan, Peterson said he has to slow down to play better Saturday.
“I got really quick,” he said. “I’m going to slow it down tomorrow and pick my spots. I rushed a few shots.”
Toms’ biggest problem came on the par-3 sixth. He pushed his tee shot onto a plateau well right of the hole and had to putt up into the green’s collar. His ball got stuck there, and he needed two more icy strokes to get down with a double-bogey 5.
“I got hot at somebody in the crowd,” he said. “They said, ‘Oh, they moved the pin overnight,’ because that’s where it was (Thursday). I wasn’t happy about that. But I probably should have chipped it.”
Still just six strokes behind Day in a tie for 27th, Toms believes there is time for one hot round to thrust him back into contention.
“I have to have a low round somewhere, a mid-60s round,” said Toms, the 2001 PGA champion. “It doesn’t have to be Saturday; it could be Sunday. I’ve got to have a few more birdie opportunities. “I feel I’m not hitting it bad, but it’s tough to get close sometimes with the longer clubs. I need some breaks, make some 20-footers here and there to have a chance to shoot a low round.”
Such a round was in Toms’ bag in 1998, when he shot a Sunday 64 that tied for the best final-round score in Masters history.
Peterson played in the tournament’s first group Thursday and will go off in the second group Saturday at 8:35 a.m. CDT with Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa.
Toms tees off at 11:25 a.m. CDT paired with Michael Thompson, who began his college career at Tulane before finishing at Alabama when the Green Wave program was disbanded after Hurricane Katrina.