AUGUSTA, G a . — Smylie Kaufman was basically happy to make the cut in his first major championship when he finished his second round early Friday afternoon, hoping to vault his way into contention on the weekend at the Masters.
“Hopefully I get in a position where I’m a couple, or four or five back of the lead,” Kaufman said.
The former LSU golfer is already there.
A second-round even-par 72 turned out to be one off the best score of a windswept day at Augusta National Golf Club. That left Kaufman at 1-over 145, just five strokes off Jordan Spieth’s lead in a tie for 15th place at the midway point.
“I’m driving it well, playing well really,” Kaufman said despite being bothered a bit by a stiff shoulder that prompted a visit with his trainer afterward. “These last two days played hard.”
When Kaufman finished his round he was seven back of Spieth, but the wind kept whipping the scores higher.
Kaufman was frustrated by a missed 6-foot birdie putt on 17 but thankful for a pair of great scrambles on 13 and 18.
Kaufman wound up in Rae’s Creek fronting the green on the par-5 13th. He took a drop and nearly popped his fourth shot in for a birdie, making par from two feet away.
“That was really key,” he said. “I was going the wrong way in the round.”
On the par-4 18th, Kaufman hooked his approach into a fan seating area left of the green. After moving chairs and pulling up gallery ropes and stakes, Kaufman faced a downhill lie to a sloping green.
He played his wedge shot off that slope, starting about 40 feet above the hole and letting it work down to five feet before making par.
“Eighteen was a shot I practiced” this week, Kaufman said. “Once it got on the green I knew it would be pretty good.”
Former University High golfer Patrick Reed opened with a 76 but got to 1-over thanks to a front-nine 33 that included an eagle on the par-5 eighth.
Reed stumbled to a double bogey-bogey finish on 17 and 18 to fall back to 5-over, but with the soaring scores around him he still made the cut in his third Masters with a stroke to spare.
Making the cut right on the number was two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson.
Watson, whose caddie is Lafayette native Ted Scott, thought he’d missed the cut at 6-over. But the Masters’ 10 strokes off the lead cut rule kept him in it.
Two-time Masters champion Tom Watson (1977, 1981) and 1991 winner Ian Woosnam played their final competitive rounds at Augusta National on Friday.
“I’ve been blessed to play here and have fans,” said Watson, who won eight majors overall. “I appreciate their applause and how they treated me today out there. Lots of hats off to Tom today. It was really pretty special.”
Also heading home
Only 31 players missed the cut, but they included some big names.
Besides Tom Watson, three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson finished at 7-over, while former Masters and reigning British Open champ Zach Johnson was 8-over.
Johnson shot an 80 to finish at 8-over but would have made the cut had he not incurred a two-stroke penalty on 13. Johnson also hit in the creek in front of the green and chose to play the shot, but grazed the water on his backswing.
Rickie Fowler, a top contender entering the Masters, was 9-over.
CBS begins its 61st consecutive year of Masters coverage at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Online coverage begins at 9:15 a.m. at Masters.com.