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Notes Olazabal Right at Home

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Something about the Masters brings out the best in Jose Maria Olazabal's game.
After missing the cut at The Players Championship two weeks ago, Olazabal said he was struggling. He didn't like his short game. He didn't like his long game. His work around the greens left something to be desired, too.
Yet here he is at Augusta National, two strokes behind leader Justin Rose at 4-under 140.
'It must be something with this place, I don't know,' the two-time winner said after shooting 69 on Friday, his second straight round under par. 'I don't feel much different to how I felt. But every time I come here, I try to do my best. I feel in a way a little bit at peace with myself.'
Olazabal has missed only one cut since winning his first green jacket in 1994. He came back from a devastating foot injury to win again in 1999 and has finished in the top 10 the past two years.
But Olazabal is at a loss to explain what it is about him and Augusta.
'I don't know if it fits my game,' he said. 'It is true that the knowledge of the golf course, it's a great point in the favor of the player that knows the course really well. It allows you to chip around the greens or putt around the greens.
'That's the only reason for it. The only reason I can see, anyway.'
After playing the front nine at even par, Olazabal found his rhythm on the back. He eagled the par-5 13th and followed with birdies on 14 and 15. He faltered at the end, though, bogeying the 18th.
'It's always nice to have two solid rounds,' he said. 'It's always nice to have a solid tournament. But I'm going to need a longer spell than just a week.'
No Relief
Talk about being in a rut.
Still angry after he didn't get a favorable ruling when his approach shot on 13 landed in a tire track, Jay Haas made a double-bogey on the next hole and finished with a 3-over 75 Friday. After being just two shots off the lead in the first round, he's now six strokes behind leader Justin Rose.
'I didn't shoot myself in the foot too badly. If I can shoot in the 60s ... I could be back in it,' Haas said.
Young Guns
When Brandt Snedeker's ball went into the water on the 15th hole, all he could think about was the cut.
Not to worry. Despite his splashdown Friday, the U.S. Amateur Public Links champion hung around for the weekend at the Masters. So did fellow amateur Casey Wittenberg, runner-up at the U.S. Amateur.
Both were at 4-over 148, 10 strokes behind leader Justin Rose.
'Relieved. Relieved is the best way to put it,' Snedeker said.
Snedeker got his first Masters off to a quick start Thursday with birdies on all three holes of the treacherous Amen Corner en route to a 1-over-par 73. He couldn't duplicate that Friday, but he did get a standing ovation.
Snedeker had to settle for a bogey after dunking his approach shot in the water on the par-5 15th. That would have unnerved some veterans, but Snedeker calmly rebounded, putting his tee shot within 5 feet on the par-3 16th and bringing the fans to their feet.
'That's something I'll definitely remember for the rest of my life,' Snedeker said, beaming. 'It gives me goosebumps just to think about it.'
Wittenberg had perhaps the toughest draw of any of the amateurs, playing his first two rounds with Tiger Woods. Hundreds, if not thousands of people were watching his every move.
Wittenberg did just fine, though, shooting an even-par 72 to make the cut.
'Tiger was tremendous to me. He couldn't have been any nicer,' Wittenberg said. 'It was a lifetime experience.'
Bob Estes set aside the distraction of playing with Arnold Palmer and shot a 33 on his back nine to make the cut on the number. ... Gary Player, normally dressed head-to-toe in black, mixed it up, wearing an all-white outfit. He shot 80. ... Sandy Lyle, the 1988 champion, finished at 2-over to make his first cut since 1999.
Related links:
  • Leaderboard - The Masters Tournament
  • Full Coverage - The Masters Tournament
  • Masters Photo Gallery
  • Tee Times
  • Arnold Palmers 50th Masters
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