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April 6 2012

11:58 PM

Couples, Dufner own halfway lead

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Two decades after he won his only Green Jacket, the ageless Fred Couples is tied with Jason Dufner at the top of the leaderboard of another Masters. Couples fired a 67, which was the day's low round, while Dufner shot a 70. The two are 5 under and have a one-stroke advantage over 2009 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen and reigning U.S. Open champ Rory McIlroy, as well as three of the best players never to have won a major in world No. 3 Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Bubba Watson. It's a logjam, though -- a total of 30 players will start the second round within five strokes of the lead. Among those is three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson,, who worked his way back into the mix with a 68 Friday that left him 2 under for the tournament. The cut came at 5 over and included 63 players. That's the largest total since 1992 when, you guessed it, Couples won his Masters by two strokes over Raymond Floyd. The 52-year-old Couples, who captained the last two victorious Presidents Cup teams, is playing in his 28th Masters. He finished sixth in 2010 and tied for 15th a year ago. He's trying to join Sam Snead and Raymond Floyd as the only players to win on the PGA TOUR in four different decades. "It was a great day today, and I worked my way up the leaderboard," said Couples, who won his seventh Champions Tour event two weeks ago.  "...   So for me it's nice to be in the mix.  This course brings out great players. "I consider myself to be a little past where I feel really comfortable with leading a major at the time. ... But I look forward to tomorrow, and we'll see what happens." Tiger Woods made the cut but it wasn't pretty as he posted a 75 in which he failed to birdie or eagle one of Augusta National's par 5s for just the third time in his pro career. World No. 1 Luke Donald struggled to a 73 and is one stroke behind Woods at 4 over.
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