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Masters Diary: Troy Merritt Tames Augusta in Tough Conditions

Masters 2016: Joe Passov on Battling Tough Augusta National
Augusta National was tossed around by the wind on Thursday, wrecking havoc on players' scores. GOLF Magazine's Joe Passov joins GOLF.com Live From Augusta to talk about the course conditions -- what was surprising, and what wasn't.

AUGUSTA -- My goal in the first couple rounds was to shoot 1 or 2 under par each day, so I was thrilled to get it done with a 1-under 71 Friday. At 1 over total I’ll make the cut in my first Masters; the only question is whether I move into the top 20 by day’s end. My plans for the afternoon: Sit back and watch guys struggle on TV.

I do my best work off the course.

I was second off this morning, so the wind was steady and not quite as gusty as it got in the afternoon. I didn’t realize how hard it had gotten. Until Rory also came in with a 71 mine was the only under-par round amongst the roughly 50 guys who had come in, so I guess it was a pretty solid day.

MORE: Merritt on Masters Debut | Merritt on Nearly Tearing Up on 1st Tee

I hit 12 fairways and 12 greens, better than I did Thursday, and I took the same number of putts: 29. I birdied 14 and 15, but the turning point was at 13. I spun my wedge back into the hazard and got up there to see it had settled in the grass down there. I chipped up and made an eight-foot, downhill slider to stay at 3 over, which was huge.

I got back at 15, which I’d bogeyed Thursday. This time I drove it up the left center, kind of behind the tree, and I didn’t feel like trying to hit a hook around it. So I laid up to about the same yardage I had Thursday, but hit a much better shot with the 54-degree wedge. I put it a bit higher in the air and it almost one-hopped in the hole. I made about a 12-footer for birdie.

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Troy Merritt recorded a rare under-par round at the Masters on Friday, and he put himself in good position for the weekend.

The birdie putt on 18 didn’t go, but I’m very, very happy with 71.

My family was really excited. My agent was excited. My playing partners Ian Woosnam and Ben (Byeong Hun-An) congratulated me on the round. I chatted with my family for five minutes when someone tapped me on the shoulder and said a couple of reporters wanted to talk to me.

I don’t know what Jordan is going to do, but I feel like I’m in this. Tomorrow might be even more difficult, so we definitely have to earn it.

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