McIlroy moves, Tiger fumes as Couples shines at Augusta Masters 2012

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland reacts to missing a birdie putt on the eighth green during second round play in the 2012 Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, April 6, 2012. REUTERS-Mark Blinch
Tiger Woods of the U.S. reacts to almost sinking a chip shot on the 12th green during second round play in the 2012 Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, April 6, 2012. REUTERS-Mark Blinch
Bae Sang-Moon of South Korea chips to the ninth green during second round play in the 2012 Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, April 6, 2012. REUTERS-Brian Snyder

By Simon Evans

AUGUSTA, Georgia

(Reuters) – Rory McIlroy moved in for the kill and Tiger Woods was left kicking his club in frustration during a Masters second round that ended with Americans Jason Dufner and Fred Couples sharing the lead.

A log-jammed leaderboard, featuring five players one stroke off the pace, sets up a fascinating weekend for the first major of the year with 52-year-old Couples, winner here 20 years ago, cast in the role of nostalgist’s underdog.

McIlroy, the world number two and U.S. Open champion, shot a composed two-under-par 69 to move within a stroke of the lead but the man he was presumed to be dueling with at Augusta – four-times Masters winner Woods – came close to imploding.

Woods pushed his tee shot right into the bunker on the 16th and hurled his club to the floor before kicking it away in a flash of anger and frustration.

There was no shortage of grimacing and muttering from a tired and unhappy looking Woods as he battled through the final holes, struggling but avoiding a total meltdown that would have left him missing the cut.

After opening with birdies on two of his first three holes, Woods had five bogeys the rest of the way and posted a three-over 75 that left him eight shots back of the leaders and three shots from missing the cut.

But the raw data does not capture the disappointing display from a player who, fresh off his first PGA Tour win in 30 months, was made bookmaker’s favorite this week.

McIlroy started the day four shots off the pace but the Northern Irishman made a solid start with three birdies on his first seven holes, including a 35-foot birdie putt on the par-three fourth.

He briefly had a share of the lead, after a birdie on the 15th, but slipped back after he bogeyed the 17th hole.


Spain’s Sergio Garcia looked set to join the American duo atop the leaderboard but bogeyed the par-four 18th to finish at four-under 68, a shot off the pace along with Lee Westwood (72), Louis Oosthuizen (72), McIlroy and Bubba Watson (71).

Couples mixed seven birdies with two bogeys for a five-under-par 67, matching the second round score he shot at Augusta National in 1992 when he won the Masters.

“I feel like I know every inch of the course. I’ve played 28 years here and today was really a magical day,” said Couples. “I’m going to be right there with everybody Saturday and Sunday, well, Saturday for sure.”

Overnight leader Westwood had parred his first 10 holes and produced two birdies on the back nine but undid a lot of his work on the final hole where he three-putted for a double bogey.

South Africa’s Oosthuizen, who began the day tied for second, had a rough start to his round with a double-bogey seven on the second hole before a strong finish that included three birdies on his final five holes.

But the surprise face among the leaders was Couples, who plays mainly on the senior Champions Tour but showed has vast understanding of the course where he won his only major.

The veteran, who started the day in a share of 29th place, had two bogeys and five birdies on the front nine and was flawless the rest of the way, making birdies at the 15th and 16th to move to five-under.

Dufner has recently made a habit of getting into the lead in the first half of tournaments only to fade at weekends but he will be looking to go one better than at last year’s PGA Championship where he lost in a playoff to Keegan Bradley.

South African Charl Schwartzel, who won last year’s Masters title by two shots when he became the first champion to birdie the last four holes, was eight shots back after a three-over 75.

Among those missing the cut were nine former Masters champions and reigning British Open champion Darren Clarke.

Australian Jason Day, joint runner-up last year, withdrew from the event with an ankle injury after seven holes of his second round.

(Editing by Frank Pingue) Newscribe : get free news in real time

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Masters 2012: Fred Couples grabs share of lead with seven birdies!

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Fred Couples grabs share of lead with seven birdies Masters 2012!

• 52-year-old storms to the front with five-under-par 67
‘To be a part of the this day is really a great thrill’

Fred Couples won the Masters 20 years ago and he put on a vintage performance during the second round at Augusta. Photograph: David J Phillip/AP

There is something about Fred Couples and Augusta National. A marriage made in heaven perhaps? A beautiful romance, no doubt. The 52-year-old American won here 20 years ago. He has come close a few times since and he might come close again in 2012.

The weekend is yet to unfold and the weekend is when the favourites, the likes of Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood, will bring their absolute best. But if the Northern Irishman, the Englishman or anyone else wants to win the Green Jacket he will have to gets past Couples.

In cold and blustery conditions more akin to Southend in March than the American South, the laid-back Californian strolled around in his casual way, stopping occasionally to hit a booming drive, an arrow-like approach or a confident putt. He had seven birdies, a couple of bogeys and nine pars. It all added up to a five-under-par 67, leaving him in a tie for the lead alongside his compatriot Jason Dufner.

Can he keep this up? Couples certainly thinks he can. “This is my favourite golf tournament in the world and today was just another day when I felt if I hit the ball solid and not do any crazy things, then I had a chance,” he said afterwards. “Even so 67 is a shocking round. For me to be a part of this day really is a great thrill.”

At the very least he will carry the hopes and affections of the Augusta National galleries, to whom he has been a romantic hero for a couple of decades. His problem is that those piled up behind him on the leaderboard are more ambitious and romantic. McIlroy and Westwood and Sergio García, all of whom were within one shot of the leader, will fancy their chances. Phil Mickelson is another whose presence will loom in Couples’ overnight dreams.

The American left-hander has played erratically over the first two days, visiting parts of the property where only topographers dare to tread. But when it mattered he answered the call, steeling his game and his mind for the full 18 holes and a round of 68, four under par. He will begin the third round three shots adrift of the leaders. He likes his chances.

Tiger Woods was more lukewarm about his and who would blame him after a second-round 75 which was almost shocking in its sloppiness. Professional golfers seldom hit shanks. Woods hit two in the space of two holes, at the 15th and 16th. Garnish those with a broad selection of poor drives, bad putts and what a tennis buff would call “racket abuse” and you have a meal guaranteed to bring indigestion.

The former world No1 made the cut but essentially ended his chances of winning his first major since the summer of 2008. Woods arrived here as the tournament favourite. Barring a miracle over the weekend, he will depart a disappointed man.

A legion of his fans around the world will weep tears over that. The rest of the field will not. A neutered Tiger increases everyone else’s chances – a simple calculus that will hearten a player such as Westwood.

The Englishman has come close here over the years but never won. He led after the opening day and played well again on Friday. Yet for all the excellence of his play he did not capitalise on the chances he was creating. Time and again he found the greens in regulation, giving himself an opportunity to extend his advantage only to be undone on the frailties of his short game. Missed putts are common currency on greens as fast and as complex as Augusta National’s but Westwood missed far more than his share. Such setbacks prey on the mind, especially of those who hit the ball as well and as accurately as he does. It breeds the suspicion that misfortune might be round the corner.

Sometimes calamity never arrives. Sometimes it does. Alas for Westwood it came on the brutish 18th. He negotiated the drive well enough but then hooked his approach shot left of the green. From there he took another four shots to get his ball in the hole – a double-bogey six which saw him signing for a one-over-par round of 73.

That dropped him from outright leadership into a tie for third place on four under for the tournament. This was hardly devastating in the greater scheme of things – it certainly did not end his chances of winning the Green Jacket – but it hurt, even if Westwood insisted it did not.

“I played well today and have put myself right in contention for the weekend, which is where you want to be,” he said afterwards. “I got myself in a lot of good positions on the greens and hit a lot of good putts which mysteriously didn’t go in. But overall I’m happy.”

Joining Westwood was McIlroy, whose opening-round 71 was perhaps the best he could have scored given the erratic quality of his play on Thursday. He came back in far better fettle after ironing out a little technical glitch with his swing and immediately made his move.

Three birdies on the front nine established real momentum and a position of intent which he maintained over the back nine. He signed for a three-under 69 – not brilliant, but more than good enough. “I am happy with where I am going into the weekend,” he said.

You can bet your life he is.

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The 3rd Alternative, 21st century win-win

21st century win-win paradigm

Title: The 3rd Alternative
Author: Stephen R. Covey
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

ALL hail the king of motivational theory and practice, and reigning monarch of corporate leadership coaching. Stephen Covey recently hit the big eight-O, but the acuity of his mind is as impressive as ever, on the evidence of The 3rd Alternative.

The multimillion-selling author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which in 1989 kick-started the whole genre, is acknowledged by many as the most influential business text of the 20th Century.

His publisher has presented The 3rd Alternative as a wholly fresh work. But this is slightly misleading. What this is, in actuality, is a well-penned and timely rehash of the book that made his name, thanks to its ground-breaking focus on the importance of synergy and on the win-win paradigm.

Is this a bad thing? No. If you have read now admittedly dated The 7 Habits, you might find The 3rd Alternative underwhelming. If you haven’t, it would behove you to skip it and go straight to this, which has similar content and almost identical messages, but is written from a 21st century perspective instead of that of the good old days of the bullish late 1980s.

The last person to widely use the term the “third alternative” as an approach to living was the late Muammar Gaddafi, whose Green Book expounded an alternative to communism and capitalism through a mixture of theological claptrap and goofy economics.

Hailing from the American rocky state of Utah, Covey is a hard-boiled capitalist, and a Mormon. And so there is an element of religiosity in Covey’s work. But his grasp of the fundamentals of economics is vastly superior to the late Libyan dictator’s. That said, it takes a certain amount of chutzpah to call one’s latest book “the 3rd alternative”. However, the book achieves its lofty goals, and is written with the clear-eyed lucidity that Covey’s legions of fans have come to expect.

The 3rd Alternative presents productive approaches to conflict resolution and creative problem solving. In these pages, Covey unveils a powerful methodology that he claims can resolve thorny professional and personal conflicts and yield solutions to apparently intractable challenges.

In any conflict, the first alternative is “my way” and the second alternative is “your way”. The fight usually rages over the question of whose way is “better”. There are numerous methods of “conflict resolution”, but most involve grudging compromise.

The 3rd Alternative goes further it’s about creating, what Covey terms, “a new and improved reality”. A departure from the usual strategies, this book illuminates a more productive mind-set one helpful to anyone seeking urgent solutions in their professional or personal lives.

Covey amplifies his message by means of wide-ranging examples of “third alternative thinkers”. There’s the local police force that transformed a crime-plagued community by casting off its entrenched “them against us” mentality. Another example tells the tale of a father who, during the course of one extraordinary evening, rescued his daughter from years of clinical depression. Then there’s the judge who brought a swift and peaceful end to a massive environmental lawsuit without setting foot in a courtroom.

Like many of the titles examined in the highly influential Read To Succeed column, this is an America-centric text, but there’s a whole generation of budding Stephen Coveys in this part of the world. And I’ll be bringing more of them to your attention in the Year of the Dragon.

But let’s get back to the man who started it all. Speaking to the press recently about his new release, Covey explained: “Most negotiators are trying to get their way. Through rounds of haggling, they usually arrive at a compromise, in which both sides concede something to get an agreement. By contrast, a third alternative’ requires no concessions at all because it’s truly a better deal for everyone. You get to it not by haggling but by asking, Would you be willing to go for a Third Alternative that is better than what either of us has in mind?’”

And that’s the message in a nutshell. Of course a win-win compromise is often a very tough nut to crack for those in the corporate community, and compromising with grace, even more so. The 3rd Alternative provides a whole toolbox of nutcrackers.

It’s a return to form. Totally fresh and original it isn’t, but seeing as it sources Covey in his prime, one cannot go far wrong. Hardcore Covey fans will love this. The newly interested should go here first, and maybe approach The 7 Habits and his other nine titles if they find Covey a sufficiently engaging guru. Many do. He’s got an enormous fan base, because he’s doing something right. And he’s been doing it for over 20 years.

Review by Nick Walker

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