Quiros chases Masters dream

2011-04-08 18:13
Alvaro Quiros (AP Photo)
Augusta - The second round of the 75th Masters began Friday with Spanish co-leader Alvaro Quiros, the longest driver on day one at Augusta National, having a modest goal of simply reaching the weekend.

After firing no better than 75 in missing the cut in two prior Masters starts, Quiros birdied four of the last six holes in round one, including 17 and 18, to match Ulsterman Rory McIlroy for the lead on seven-under par 65.

That might have fooled him in past years, but this time, Quiros has learned the lesson of patience around the famed Augusta National layout.

"My target is to make the cut," Quiros said. "It would be stupid to think to shoot 65 again because it's not my way - 75 was my best round here. It could just be one good round of golf."

The 28-year-old from Cadiz averaged 309.5 yards off the tee to lead the field of 99, with McIlroy third at 297, and Quiros shared second in reaching greens in regulation, doing so on 15 of 18 holes.

"It's a shot of confidence," Quiros said. "I've been struggling with my game for a long time.

"The two previous years I came to the Masters thinking that I can play well, shoot low, and this was my one main mistake. It's too tough. Every single situation has to be measured, the risk, the reward.

"I was very happy making pars. This is why probably I shot 65. If I push myself to shoot 65 from the first tee, probably it will be 75, 76 like the previous years."

With Spanish legend Seve Ballesteros in ill health due to a brain tumor, the idea of a new Spaniard becoming the first European winner at the Masters since Jose Maria Olazabal in 1999 was seen as a perfect tribute to Ballesteros.

"I couldn't say what it would mean for Seve if I win," Quiros said. "I'm pretty sure in every single corner of this course, everybody will know what Seve did in his times."

Quiros was the last player off the course Thursday, which gave him a feeling that he had only known from television.

"It was like I was playing Sunday afternoon in the leading group," he said. "It was a very nice feeling because normally I'm watching the situation through the TV sitting on my sofa."

On Friday, Quiros was set to tee off in the 16th of 33 groups alongside Venezuela's Jhonattan Vegas and American Gary Woodland, one group behind defending champion Phil Mickelson, who opened on 70.

McIlroy, who went off early in his bogey-free round one, was set for an early afternoon start alongside fellow "young guns" Rickie Fowler of the United States and Jason Day of Australia.

Other morning starters included South Koreans K.J. Choi and Yang Yong-Eun, who shared third on 67 two off the pace, and American Ricky Barnes, who shared fifth on 68 with countryman Matt Kuchar.

Kuchar is in the fourth-to-last group Friday alongside the two top-ranked players in the world, Germany's Martin Kaymer and England's Lee Westwood.

Top-ranked Kaymer, who has never reached the weekend at Augusta National, opened on 78 and looks set to again miss the Masters cut while Westwood, last year's Masters runner-up, opened with a 72.

Tiger Woods, a 14-time major champion chasing the record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus, will tee off in the penultimate group. He opened with a 71 in quest of his fifth Masters title.

South African Charl Schwartzel, the only leader among the earliest starters, opened with three pars to remain four strokes off the pace.

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