Davis, Smith raise hopes of elusive Masters triumph

Cam Davis and Cameron Smith have emerged unscathed on a day of carnage at Augusta National to raise hopes of another hoodoo-busting Australian Masters triumph.

Davis held his nerve to upstage his more-fancied compatriots and climb into a share of fifth, just three shots off the halfway lead, while Smith also surged into serious contention during the windswept second round.

Davis backed up his opening three-under-par 69 with a steely 72 on Friday to briefly capture the clubhouse lead at golf's first major championship of the year.

Playing in the last group of the day, Smith joined Davis in the top eight with a second-round 72 that left the 2022 British Open champion at one under and just five back entering the weekend.

Tied for fourth at the PGA Championship in Australia's best result of the year at the 2023 US majors, the unheralded Davis was five under and within two shots of the lead at one point on Friday before making a double bogey at the par-4 seventh hole.

Cam Davis
Cam Davis hits from the fairway at the 10th during his steely second-round 72.

He flayed his drive right into the trees, chipped out on to the fairway and then dumped his third into a bunker and couldn't scramble a bogey.

The 2017 Australian Open champion also rued putting through the green on the par-5 13th for a second six of the day, before bouncing back with a lovely birdie on 15 and clutch up-and-down par on the last.

"I had a couple of stumbles but I felt like I battled well and made some nice putts to keep the momentum," Davis said.

"Three under in the conditions I played in, I feel pretty proud of.

"It's a good test out there right now. I feel like pars are good scores."

Playing in the last group of the day, Smith toiled even harder to stay in the hunt.

Australia's Cameron Smith
Australia's Cameron Smith putts on the 16th green to remain in contention at the Masters.

He could have been even higher up the leaderboard if not for a sloppy three-putt bogey on the 13th and a short birdie miss on 15.

Two clutch par savers late, though, made up for the misses.

"I'm pretty proud of the way I hung in there. It was tough," Smith said.

Jason Day, Min Woo Lee and Adam Scott also made the cut.

Playing with legendary five-time champion Tiger Woods, Day (75-73) is four under and 10 shots adrift of the lead.

The former world No.1 had to play 23 holes after returning early on Friday morning to resume his opening round at even par through 13.

He double-bogeyed the 16th after dumping his tee shot into the water, then dropped another stroke at the last after slicing into the trees.

He stayed steady, though, in the howling winds to stay in the tournament with a one-over second round.

“It was nice to get in the house, especially after this morning, shoot three-over with five holes left," Day said.

"To kind of grind out one over in the second round was quite nice."

Lee (74-74) bogeyed the last to join Day at four over.

Scott (76-74) looked certain to miss the cut for only the third time in 23 Masters appearances following a crushing lip-out bogey at the 18th.

But the 2013 champion - and still Australia's only ever green jacket owner - earned a stay of execution when fellow former world No.1 Justin Thomas also bogeyed the last hole late in the day to move the cut line to six over.

Rookie amateur Jasper Stubbs (80-76) is the only Australian heading home early after slumping to 12 over on his major championship debut.

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