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Freddie Couples defies odds to remain in hunt for second green jacket at Augusta

By Phil Casey

Freddie Couples rolled back the years to finish one under after a round of 70 yesterday. The popular 1992 Masters champion had carded a round of 73 on Thursday and produced some fine golf to leave himself just three shots behind the leaders going into the third round.

Couples said: “I’m very pleased with that. I was disappointed with the bogey at 17 but then I made up for it with the birdie at 18.”

The 57-year-old will be feeling very confident of winning a second green jacket as he holds the fourth best scoring record in the history of the Masters.

One of those leaders that Couples is chasing is fellow American Rickie Fowler, who sits alongside Thomas Pieters, Charley Hoffman and Sergio Garcia.

Fowler equalled his best score at Augusta when he shot a round  of 67 to go to four under.

“I felt that we got the good side of the draw because the wind lay down a little and we were able to make birdies,” said Fowler, who is in the hunt for his first Major.

“It was getting a little tough out there because the greens were drying out... I’m excited about the weekend.”

Stewart Hagestad, meanwhile, has become the first US Mid-Amateur champion to make the cut at the Masters.

The 25-year-old from California, who works at a real estate firm in New York, followed up a two-over-par 74 in the first round with a one-over 73 yesterday to comfortably make it through to the weekend.

The Mid-Amateur Championship was founded in 1981 and since 1989, every winner has received an invite to Augusta National. However, no champion had ever made the cut — until yesterday.

Hagestad earned his place at the Masters with a stunning play-off win at Stonewall Links against Scott Harvey — the 2014 Mid-Am champion and member of the 2015 Walker Cup team.

He won four of the final five regulation holes at the tournament, all with birdies, to get into the play-off before another birdie on the first play-off hole completed quite an incredible comeback.

 

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