1 Jason Day is determined to fight his way up the leaderboard after Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy held court at the halfway mark of the Masters.
Day continued to struggle on the back nine at Augusta National on Friday but still moved closer to the lead after a windy second round.
The Australian shot a one-over 73 to be one-over 145 for the week and heads into the third round five off the pace and tied for 15th.
“I’m close enough if good enough but it will be tough with those guys up top,” Day said.
World No.2 Spieth leads after scoring a 74, putting him at four-under 140.
It represents a record sixth straight Masters round in the lead for the defending champion, tying Arnold Palmer’s record from 1960-61.
He leads over World No.3 Rory McIlroy after the Northern Irishman put up the equal best score of the day with a 71 to finish second at three-under 141.
McIlroy is chasing the career grand slam and would be just the sixth player in history to achieve the feat.
With wind gusts up towards 25mph causing havoc around the course it was the first time a player failed to break 70 in the Masters since 2007.
Day, who dropped five shots on the back nine on Thursday, dropped three more on Friday and is now seven-under on the front nine but eight-over on the back.
“I’m just trying to say to myself, just kind of keep myself in it, just got to keep grinding out until it’s over. A three, four, five shot lead can change in a hole or two,” he said.
“It’s stressful and sometimes I hate it, but I enjoy it. The tougher the better because then I can just keep grinding it out.”
In his 17 rounds leading into the tournament Day was three under on the front side but 11 under on the back, making his form all the more baffling.
“It’s no good. Hopefully I can get the back side like I have the front side the last two days,” Day said.
“If I can do that then I can kind of start leapfrogging some guys.
“It’s just really hard to commit to a lot of the golf shots out there (in the wind) and you have to be very mentally strong to be able to do that.”
New Zealand’s Danny Lee (74) and American Scott Piercy (72) are tied for third at two under.
American Brandt Snedeker (72), Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama (72) and Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen (74) sit fifth at one under, leaving just seven players under par.
Masters rookie Cameron Smith shot a one-over-73 to finish three over for the tournament, making it three from three cuts made in major championships.
Adam Scott will play the weekend after a 72 left him at four-over and just eight off the pace but the championship is over for Marc Leishman (+7) and Steven Bowditch (+17).