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Johnson avoids penalty, not embarrassment at Masters

The Associated Press AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — In his 15 years at the Masters, in his two decades as a pro, Zach Johnson had never experienced a shot like this.

He had never hit one that short, either, but at least it didn’t count.

Johnson was going through his practice routine on the par-5 13th on Friday when the tip of his driver hit the golf ball. It went straight right into the tee marker, and then ricocheted to the left about 5 yards away.

Johnson was so stunned he blurted out, “Oh, (s---)” before turning to his group to figure out his next move. Matt Kuchar, Ian Poulter and the caddies replied in unison that the shot wasn’t intentional and there was no penalty.

“I thought I had done it all,” Johnson said. “But now I know I’ve done it all ... I don’t think I could do it again if I tried.”

That he wasn’t trying to hit the shot is what kept him from the penalty, a decision in place even before the new Rules of Golf this year. It’s covered under Rule 6.2b(5) on starting a hole: “If a teed ball falls off the tee or is knocked off the tee by the player before the player has made a stroke at it, it may be re-teed anywhere in the teeing area without penalty.”

Johnson said he knew the rule. His reaction was “only because I have never done that.”

The rest of the group apparently hadn’t either because they couldn’t stifle their laughter.

“Y’all can laugh,” Johnson said as he prepared to hit again. “That is embarrassing.”

Johnson drilled his tee shot and wound up making birdie on his way to a 73.

Amateur Kanaya makes cut

Four amateurs advanced to the weekend, the most to make the Masters cut in two decades.

At the midway point, Viktor Hovland of Norway was the top amateur at 1-under 143, while Alvaro Ortiz of Mexico (144), Devon Bling of the United States (147) and Japan’s Taku- mi Kanaya (147) also earned two more rounds at the year’s first major.

American Kevin O’Connell (148) was among those who missed the cut by a single stroke. Also failing to advance was South Africa’s Jovan Rebula (152).

In 1999, amateurs Sergio Garcia, Tom McKnight, Matt Kuchar and Trevor Immelman survived the cut.

End of the line for Woosnam

Ian Woosnam played one final round as a competitor Friday, walking off the Augusta National course that yielded his only major championship nearly three decades earlier. Woosnam, 61, missed the cut after rounds of 76-80.

He said a bad back and struggles coping with the hilly terrain confirmed a decision he wrestled with a few years ago.

“This is the last one. So sad to go,” Woosnam said. “I determined it a couple of years ago and got a telling-off from my wife. She said, ‘Get out there and do it again.’ ... But it doesn’t seem to get any better any time I come back.”

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