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81st Masters: Kuchar (1 over) still likes his chances

Matt Kuchar (Georgia Tech), a former U.S. Amateur champ still seeking his first major title, after shooting a 1-over 73 and stands at 1 over, five shots back:

“I think I’m still right in the thick of things, and looking forward to some good weather on the weekend, and I’m sure there will be some good scores on the weekend, as well.”

Danny Willett after taking an “8” on the par-4 first and shooting a 78 to miss the cut, on whether a weight was lifted from being the defending Masters champion:

No. … There’s a lot of good in there, it’s just unfortunate, obviously week to week it doesn’t matter, really. Unfortunately we are a results-based game and the results haven’t quite been there. … You’re still a Masters champion. There’s still pressure that you put on yourself and that people I guess put on you to kind of play well. It’s been a tricky 12 months, but we haven’t played great golf, but, by the same token if you look at the career that we’ve had, we’ve not really had a slump in form in two years. We’ve had two fabulous years. And when you have a little bit of a downturn and it feels like the world is coming to an end.”

First-round leader Charley Hoffman, who followed his 65 with a 75:

“Got off to a great start. Had a good chance on 4 to get to 9 under and just didn’t capitalize, and made a few bogeys on 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, and it’s a tough stretch of holes. I got out of position. Didn’t capitalize. Didn’t make the putts. Just wasn’t in position to attack this golf course, which in turn, as everybody knows, you can make bogeys pretty quick. Happy with the way I finished. Closed the last seven 1 under, and gave myself a chance going into the weekend.”

William McGirt, who stayed in the hunt with a 1-over 73, and stands 2 under (from Golf Channel):

“I guess the good thing for me is that I don’t have any negative experiences to look back on. In my practice, this is the wind direction that we’ve had, so I’ve kind of prepared in these conditions and I feel like I can play the golf course. The first hole is absolutely brutal right now. The third shot on 15 might be the scariest wedge shot in golf. It’s just hard. But it’s so much fun and we’re trying to take it all in this week and enjoy it. I don’t know if this is going to be my first of many Masters or my first and only Masters. I don’t want to look many years down the road and say, ‘Gosh, I wish I had enjoyed it a little bit more.’ So we are trying to take it all in and have fun with it. It’s hard out there. But it’s really, really fun. This place never gets old. I would stay and play here every day if they would let me.”

Rory McIlroy, who needs a Masters victory to complete the career grand slam, after shooting a 1-over 73 in the second round on what he’ll need Saturday:

“Mid 60s. Yeah, the weather’s going to be better, the wind’s not going to be as strong, I’m five behind at the minute and there’s probably going to be a good few guys that finish ahead of me going into the weekend. So, if I can put together a 67 or a 66 tomorrow, I feel like I’ll be right in there for Sunday.”

Jon Rahm, who shot 70, the winner of the San Diego stop on the PGA Tour and a first-time Masters entrant:

“Well, first timers don’t usually have a great history at Torrey Pines either and I was able to win that. I kept that in mind. There’s nothing that says I’m going to play bad or that I should play bad. I think I liked the conditions, because I usually like tough conditions. I can keep the ball low and pars are my friend. On days like today, I was able to take advantage of my ball striking and I think I lucked out in that sense.”

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