By Phil Casey, PA Golf Correspondent, Augusta
Former champion Charl Schwartzel overcame a distinct lack of form and some testing conditions to move into contention for a second Masters title.
Schwartzel has missed the cut in each of his last six starts on the PGA Tour and hit the headlines for throwing a club in frustration during the first round of the Valspar Championship.
However, the 37-year-old South African mastered a blustery wind at Augusta National to card five birdies and two bogeys in a second round of 69 to set the early clubhouse target on three under.
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There was not such good news for Schwartzel’s compatriot Louis Oosthuizen, the former Open champion withdrawing before the start of his second round due to an unspecified injury.
The absence of Oosthuizen, who had finished second, second and third in his previous three majors, meant Tiger Woods had only Joaquin Niemann for company as he got his second round under way.
Woods carded an opening 71 on his latest remarkable return from injury, the 15-time major winner having suffered serous leg injuries in a car crash in February last year.
Rory McIlroy had earlier found himself in a depressingly familiar position as he got his second round under way.
Since winning his last major title in the 2014 US PGA Championship, McIlroy is a combined 35 over par in the first round of majors, his latest effort being a one-over 73 on Thursday.
That left the 32-year-old facing an uphill battle to win a green jacket and complete the career grand slam, with 32 of the last 35 Masters champions shooting par or better in the first round.
McIlroy felt he had played better than his score suggested and hit a superb drive and approach to the first on day two, only to miss the birdie putt from 10 feet.
A wayward drive on the par-five second was fortunate not to finish behind a tree and Mcllroy was able to punch his approach out just right of the green before chipping to two feet for a welcome birdie.
A bogey on the fifth was followed by another dropped shot on the 10th and a double-bogey on the 11th, where a wild second shot into the crowd was compounded by a three-putt from short range.
At four over par, McIlroy faced a battle to avoid missing the cut for the second successive year.