Lee Westwood (Getty Images)
Six European Tour Members occupy a place in the top ten heading into the weekend of The Masters Tournament after a fascinating second round, with Lee Westwood warning - “I’m right where I want to be”.
Americans Fred Couples and Jason Dufner share the lead on five under par, although England’s Westwood would have held the outright lead but for a double bogey at the last.
Rory McIlroy came right back into the thick of things to join Westwood on four under, along with Louis Oosthuizen and Sergio Garcia, with Miguel Angel Jiménez and Paul Lawrie amongst those on three under.
World Number Three Westwood, ahead by one after an opening 67, still held that advantage until he missed the 18th green, chipped ten feet past and three-putted for a six.
A one over par 73 dropped the 2010 runner-up to four under for the opening Major of the season and gave Couples - champion 20 years ago and now 52 - the distinction of being the oldest halfway leader in the tournament's history.
After a best-of-the-day 67 Couples shares top spot with fellow American Dufner, one in front of Westwood, McIlroy, Garcia, Oosthuizen and Bubba Watson.
Westwood said: "It was disappointing, but if you get out of position on this course it can punish you.
"These things happen and they will happen to everybody.
"I thought I made a few putts that didn't drop," added Westwood, "but I'm right in there for the weekend and that's where I want to be.
"The greens are getting more fiery and the wind is making it tricky." He also had to contend with much cooler conditions earlier in the day.
McIlroy reached five under before failing to get up and down from a bunker at the 17th, but then saved par from off the final green for a fine 69.
The Northern Irishman had finished his opening 71 with back-to-back birdies and said: "That was huge and it was nice just to get up today and get straight back at it.
"It put me in a positive frame of mind. I know I am playing well - my recent results (only one finish outside the top five since last August) show that.
"I just wanted to come and play and put myself in position to win another tournament, another Major."
Couples, captain of the American Presidents Cup team last November, described it as "a little bizarre" to find himself leading again after a "magical" round.
But it was not totally surprising. He has finished sixth and 15th the last two years and stated: "It's my favourite place in the world to play.
"On the range I felt my body tightening up a bit and I just wanted to play solid."
Garcia was another to reach five under, but he struck his approach left into the crowd at the 18th and failed to get up-and-down.
Oosthuizen fought back magnificently from a disappointing start. The 2010 Open Champion found water at the second and double bogeyed, before dropping further shots at the fourth and fifth.
But he came back in a bogey-free 33 for a level par 72, which kept his chances of following in compatriot Charl Schwartzel’s footsteps right on track.
Lawrie birdied the last three holes for a 72 and on three under is still inside the top ten in his first Masters Tournament since 2004.