A Couple Masters Unknowns Answering the Call

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AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Brett Wetterich has friends in low places, the kind who call at 1:30 in the morning even when their buddy has an important tee time in just a few hours.
 
Might be time to turn the cell phone off.
 
He has plenty to worry about without those kind of distractions.
 
Wetterich and Tim Clark, last year's surprise runner-up, are co-leaders halfway through the Masters at 2 under par.
 
Wetterich got his share of the lead by shooting 1-over 73 on Friday, and he did it even though he may have been a bit tired for his 8:55 a.m. start.
 
You see, his phone rang a little late the night before.
 
'I'm the type of person that gets phone calls like that every now and then,' he explained. 'My buddies forget that I'm playing the Masters and I have to get up at 5:30.'
 
Several years ago, the golf world thought so little of Wetterich that he could only get a scholarship from Wallace State Community College. He was a late bloomer who started making a name for himself with his win at the Byron Nelson Classic last year. That helped land him on the Ryder Cup team for the Americans, and we all know what happened there.
 
'It took me a while to progress, and every year I kind of got a little better and better,' Wetterich said. 'And here I am now.'
 
Wetterich has put the losing experience at the Ryder Cup behind him. And for his first Masters, he has put his typical go-for-broke strategy on hold.
 
'I definitely am playing a little less aggressively than I normally play, for sure,' Wetterich said. 'I'm trying to make as many pars as I can. That's usually not my style of game.'
 
He laid up on the par-3 15th hole, even though he could have tried to clear the creek for an eagle try. In all, he's 2 over on the par 5s this week, usually a formula for defeat at Augusta National.
 
But the formula is being turned on its head a bit. Only three players survived the first two rounds below par, and they did it by playing more like this is a U.S. Open than the Masters.
 
Though the weekend brings different pressures, Wetterich has shown he can hold it together under stress.
 
Midway through the round, he became the first -- and still only -- player to reach 4 under for the tournament. Then he got to 15 and 16 and made back-to-back three-putts. He drained an 8-footer on No. 17 to avoid a third straight and keep himself in the lead.
 
'That kind of stopped my bleeding,' he said. 'Having three three-putts in a row -- that's not a good thing.'
 
Meanwhile, very few were picking Clark to be ahead of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson at this point in the Masters. Maybe they should have.
 
Last year, it was the South Africa native, a three-time winner in Europe who has yet to break through on the PGA Tour, who ended up second to Mickelson. A bunch of better-known names -- Woods, Vijay Singh, Fred Couples, Jose Maria Olazabal -- were in the hunt that day. Clark beat them all.
 
Maybe the biggest surprise there is that Clark doesn't think his game suits the course.
 
'I'm not going to let that get in the way of me playing well,' he said. 'I've dreamed of coming here and playing this tournament as a child, and I'm here now, and I'm going to make the most of it.'
 
Among the hurdles he overcame Friday was a double bogey on No. 5 after hitting up against a tree on his drive. There was also the distraction of playing with Larry Mize and Troy Matteson, who combined to shoot 31 over for the first two days.
 
'I find here you really get into your own game and not worry about what others are doing,' Clark said.
 
Putting distractions out of mind figures to be key for both players, at least on Saturday, when they'll be the last ones out.
 
Clark knows the drill. He played with Woods on Sunday last year, shot a 69 and finished one spot ahead of the best and most popular player in the world.
 
He also learned a lot that day.
 
'He didn't get off to the greatest of starts but he felt like he was in the tournament going into the back nine,' Clark said. 'I think that's what you have to do. You have to know that no matter what happens to you there, you can still get yourself back into the tournament and it's never really over.'
 
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