The first half of this Masters has been a survival test and after a second day of turmoil among the swaying pines, Europe’s Ryder Cup grandees are still standing.
They have wobbled like the rest of a wind-buffeted Augusta field but after two rounds in each other’s company they have another shot at breaking that duck.
Garcia is best positioned after an outstanding three-under-par 69 on day two which gave him a share of the clubhouse lead with Charley Hoffman as the first round runaway came back to the pack.
But although Westwood slipped back to three over with a 77, he too remains within striking distance on a congested leaderboard.
The honour of ‘best player never to win a Major’ is the sort of back-handed compliment no-one wants with its undertones of failure but it is one Garcia and Westwood have worn for a long time.
Sergio Garcia finished with a share of the clubhouse lead
Both Garcia and Westwood have never won a Major Championship
Knock on the door sufficient times and it will open apparently but hard as both have hammered at the trophy room, it has remained stubbornly locked.
That has brought with it a certain fatalism – for Garcia in particular. No-one in golf does sloped-shouldered, hangdog despair like the Spaniard.
Yet though day two's treacherous tightrope walk brought its testing moments with the greens quicker than in round one, he kept his temperament on an even keel.
Garcia is in a happy place at present. He is engaged to be married later this year to Angela Akins, an American TV sports reporter, and is playing well. He won his first European Tour event for three years in February in Dubai.
Birdies at his first three holes on day two put the squeeze on Hoffman and as the overnight leader went into reverse, the 37-year-old briefly took the lead halfway through his second round.
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Garcia dropped shots at the 10th after finding the trees twice and the 13th after a poor chip as Hoffman restored his advantage but a birdie at the long 15th after taking on the green with his second shot brought him back into the Californian’s slipstream.
English golfers at the 2017 Masters
Tue, April 4, 2017
Express Sport runs through the field of English golfers chasing the green jacket at the 2017 Masters
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Express Sport runs through the English golfers competing at the 2017 Masters
A magnificent approach shot to the 17th pulled him alongside Hoffman who signed for a sobering 75 after his heady 65 on Thursday.
Garcia and Saturdays do not mix at Augusta – his scoring average is 75 on what, for him, has been moving backwards day, but so far he has been reassuringly resolute here.
It took 22 holes for his first bogey – his best start at a Major since the 1999 US PGA Championship when he went onto finish runner-up. That was the first of four second-place finishes in a Major for Garcia; one more than his fellow bridesmaid Westwood. For Westwood, at 44, time is running out if he is ever to land the championship which would complete his career.
After a missed cut last week at the Houston Open the omens did not look good for the Masters but the veteran of the 11-strong English armada here this week knows how to plot his way around Augusta.
He was not at his best on day two in a bogey-riddled round but last year’s runner-up managed to keep the leakage to manageable proportions. It was a day of damage limitation so in the circumstances Ryan Moore’s 69 was an eye-catching result.
Westwood finished the day three-over-par
“It’s a golf course that if you hit it in the right place, it’s possible to shoot a score and I hit it in the right place,” explained Moore.
“If you start hitting it in the wrong places – and that can even be on the green – you’re going to make bogey. That’s the beauty of this golf course.” The round took the American Ryder Cup wildcard to one under, a shot adrift of clubhouse leader William McGirt who is floating around Augusta National on his Masters debut.
It might be hell out there but it is heavenly too.
“I don’t know if it’s going to be my first of many Masters or my first and last Masters. I don’t want to look back in 20 years and wish I’d enjoyed it more so I’ve just had fun,” said McGirt.
“It’s hard out there – even two-footers are no gimmes with the green speed and the wind – but I could stay and play here each and every day until the chairman has to run me off.”