AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Jason Day is out front midway through the Masters.
Some 18 players were within four shots of the lead, including Tiger Woods.
Woods moved into a share of the lead with a two-putt birdie on the eighth hole, and his game looked to be as sharp as ever -- perhaps too sharp. Right when it looked like he might take the outright lead, Woods hit a lob wedge that was so perfect it hit the flag on the par-5 15th and caromed backward off the green and into the water. Instead of having a short birdie putt, he had to scramble to save bogey.
Woods posed over another shot on the 18th and was stunned to see it hop onto the upper shelf, leading to his second three-putt bogey of the week. He had to settle for a 71, though he was still only three shots out of the lead.
"My score doesn't quite indicate how well I played today," Woods said.
Everyone within 10 shots of the lead will be back on Saturday. Seventy players made the cut, the most in Masters history.
That includes Tianlang Guan, the 14-year-old from China who became the youngest player to make the cut in PGA Tour and major championship history despite taking a one-stroke penalty on the 17th hole for slow play. He's at 4-overall overall after a second-round 75.
Day, a runner-up at the Masters two years ago, can be one of the most exciting players in golf when his game is on, and he was firing at flags from everywhere Friday. Even from the pine straw under the trees on the dangerous 11th, the Aussie took dead aim at the pin and set up a rare birdie to join the leaders.
His only blunder was hitting into the water short of the 12th, though he still managed to escape with bogey, and then he fired a 4-wood low enough to stay below the trees and avoid the wind on the 13th, setting up a two-putt birdie.
He was cognizant of the guys behind him -- Woods included -- though just as much pressure comes from trying to be the first Australian in a green jacket.
"The moment I start worrying about other players is the moment I start losing focus on what I need to do, and when I do that, I'll start making bogeys," Day said. "It's obviously great to have the lead. I'm very exciting for the challenge over the next two days. It really is exciting to have the opportunity to win the Masters. I'm very, very happy where I am right now."
The 53-year-old Couples, who shared the 36-hole lead last year at the Masters, birdied the 18th hole for a 71 and will play in the final group.
"I did tee off Thursday with the idea of playing well, and now it's Friday afternoon late. I'm surprised, but I'm not going to freak out over it," Couples said.
Former Masters champion Angel Cabrera birdied five of his last six holes for a 69 and was in the group two shots behind, along with former U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk (71) and Brandt Snedeker (70). Woods was at 3-under 141 with six others, including Adam Scott (72), Lee Westwood (71) and Justin Rose (71).
And still in the mix was Rory McIlroy, who turned his fortunes around with a 5-wood from about 275 yards that set up a short eagle putt. He added three more birdies on the back nine and had a 70, leaving him only four shots out of the lead going into the weekend.
"Anything under par today was going to be a good score," McIlroy said.
The hole locations were severe in spots, with one pin tucked on top of a mound toward the front of the fifth green. The par 5s played into an opposite wind on the back nine, and they were not easy to reach. Furyk got home in two on the 15th hole Thursday with a hybrid. He used that same club to lay up on Friday.
Such tough conditions made the performance of Guan that much more impressive. He had a respectable 75, which included the one-shot penalty.
The penalty looked ominous because Dustin Johnson was running off birdies every way imaginable, the only player to reach 7-under par in nasty conditions. His round imploded, however, when he played the final five holes in 6-over par. That included a double-bogey on the 15th when he hit his third shot into the water. He had a 76 and plunged down the leaderboard, though he was still only five shots behind.
Furyk also hit into the water on the 15th with a wedge he chunked so badly that it didn't make it halfway across the pond. Scott made his third straight bogey at No. 5, but that was the last mistake he made. He answered with three birdies the rest of the way.
Day's 68 was the lowest score of the round, with conditions so tricky that only five players broke 70.
"It just feels like every shot is the biggest shot you've ever hit in your life out there," Day said. "It's really, really difficult. I'm just glad to be in the clubhouse right now."
One player who didn't recover was Sergio Garcia, who opened with a 66. One day after six birdies and no bogeys, he had four bogeys and no birdies. One day after he saw so many shots go where he was aiming, he couldn't cope with the wind.
"I hit the ball better today and was I was 10 shots worse," Garcia said after a 76 that put him in the group at 2-under with McIlroy, former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and 55-year-old Bernhard Langer. "But even with everything that happened today, we still are in a decent position to hopefully do something on the weekend."
That weekend will include defending champion Bubba Watson, who will play with a marker in the first group Saturday morning, and Phil Mickelson, who shot 40 on the back nine and had a 76 that left him nine shots out of the lead.
Nineteen players are at or within four shots of Day. That includes seven different major champions and nine players in the top 20 of the world rankings.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.