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Second-round scores

Second-round scorecards

Look ahead: Experience rules

Frozen moment: Norman's prayers answered

Harig: Olazabal on the prowl

Snowman hurts Duval's chances

Notebook: Sutton not amused by Augusta

  Jose Maria Olazabal says this is the best he has played in a long time.
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  Greg Norman admits his comeback has been tough.
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  Lee Janzen says he is inspired by former champions at Augusta.
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  David Duval is concerned about the way he is playing.
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Sunday, Apr. 11 9:50pm ET
Olazabal steps into Masters lead
Associated Press

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- His feet hurt so bad he couldn't walk.

His heart ached too, especially when Jose Maria Olazabal found himself confined to a couch in Spain, thousands of miles from Augusta National and the green jacket he had won only two years earlier.

 Greg Norman
Greg Norman has eight top-10 finishes at Augusta, including three seconds.

His future looked as bleak as what he saw on television that day: Greg Norman squandering a six-stroke lead in the final round of the 1996 Masters, an excruciating loss that figured to be the last of the Shark's chances in the major he covets the most.

"I was just thinking that one day I will be back there," Olazabal said.

Both of them walked up the 18th fairway in grand fashion Friday.

Olazabal was marching -- not limping -- like a Masters champion after his 6-under 66 gave him a one stroke lead over Scott McCarron. Norman was in contention once again, a gleam in those daring blue eyes after a 4-under 68 left him only three strokes behind.

Five years after he won The Masters for his only major, Olazabal relied on his experience and creativity around the greens to avoid bogey and finish two rounds at 136.

Three years after that shocking collapse, Norman showed that Augusta hasn't seen the last of him.

"We've always said that experience on this golf course is very important, and that's a fact," Olazabal said. "Because I won here in '94, that maybe makes me feel better than players who haven't won. It's a very special place for me."

It's also a special place for Norman, even though he has gone through more heartache than anyone at Augusta.

Maybe he's coming back for another dose. Or maybe fate is finally on his side. Norman at least gave himself a chance with a smart, safe 68 that left him at 139, tied with defending U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen.

"I'm glad I'm here," Norman said. "I'm glad I'm playing well. I'm getting myself back into the groove of things."

Nick Price and Davis Love III, who began the second round tied for the lead, both had 72 and were at 141. The group at 142 included Steve Elkington, Justin Leonard and Bernhard Langer, who matched Olazabal's 66 for the best round of the tournament.

Of the top 12 players, eight of them know what it takes to win a major.

Include Norman on that list. He's won two British Opens, but is more famous for his eight second-place finishes in the majors.

"I don't know what my destiny is," Norman said. "All I want to do is just go play well. I've played out here long enough to see things happen ... for me and against me. Destiny and luck go hand-in-hand."

As usual, there was a little bit of both on Friday when the winds swirled, the clouds gathered, a light rain gave way to sun, and the roars matched the groans.

  • David Duval drained a 45-foot birdie putt on No. 10 to get in the game, but fell out of it by spinning a wedge into the pond on No. 15 for a triple bogey. He finished at 74 and was at 145, nine strokes off the lead.

    "I'm discouraged, but I'm not down," Duval said, trying to win for the third week in a row.

  • Tiger Woods birdied three of the last six holes, but only after a double-bogey on No. 12 when his tee-shot landed in the middle of Rae's Creek. He was at 144 after another 72. Since winning the 1997 Masters, Woods has failed to break 70.

  • Ernie Els made another double bogey down the stretch to ruin his day, this one on No. 17 that gave him a 72 for 143.

  • Colin Montgomerie holed out for eagle on No. 3 and then proceeded to make bogey on the next three holes. He finished the day where he started, at 2-under 142 and hanging around.

  • Matt Kuchar thrilled the gallery yet again with an eagle from the bunker on No. 13. He was one of four amateurs to make the cut, the most since 1985.

    "With two more days, we'll see many things happen," Olazabal said. "You have to take a lot of players who can really win the tournament."

    That Olazabal is the front-runner is not surprising. Since 1989, he has finished worse than 14th only once. His imaginative short game supports why Europeans have won more green jackets (10) than Americans since 1980.

    But to see him now is a treat. Just four years ago, his career was in jeopardy when his feet hurt so badly that he couldn't get off the couch for about three months and couldn't even play for 18 months.

    A German doctor finally traced the problem to his back, and Olazabal returned in 1997 to win on the European Tour -- and start contending again in The Masters.

    "I reached a time that I thought about my possibilities of not playing golf any more," Olazabal said. "Even more, I worried about the quality of life. Just to be here again, to shoot a round like I did ... I'm really pleased."

    Indeed, it was the same old Olazabal. The most delicate shots around the most nerve-wracking greens look secondhand to the 33-year-old Spaniard. He has taken only 50 putts through 36 holes, including two big par-savers on the front nine.

    But the biggest shot of his round was a bump-and-run with a 9-iron, up the slope on the 15th green, down a glasslike surface with the pond inviting any ball struck too hard.

    It stopped inches from the cup for birdie, and he added one more with a 9-iron into 10 feet on the 18th.

    McCarron, who was tied for the lead after the first round, used his booming drives and broom-handle putter to do his best tracking down Olazabal. He made birdies on three straight holes starting on the 14th, and closed out his 68 with a 12-footer on the 18th.

    This will be the first time he's been in the last group on the weekend in a major.

    "I don't consider myself a lesser-known," said McCarron, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour. "When I'm playing with Elkington and (Fred) Couples, I feel I'm as good as them or better. You have to believe that to play that."

    No one wants to believe more than Norman.

    He hasn't even been in contention at a major since that disastrous collapse against Nick Faldo in 1996. And who would have expected him to be there this week, still on the mend from shoulder surgery that kept him out seven months last year, only eight competitive rounds under his belt in the past two months?

    "Right now I'm feeling extremely relaxed and in control of what I'm doing," Norman said. "Sunday is a long way away. I want to enjoy it, and that's it."

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