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Weir Leads by Four; Woods Barely Survives Cut

Mike Weir returned to Augusta National Golf Club Saturday morning and completed his second round of four-under 68 which gave him a four-stroke lead at The Masters. Weir is six-under-par 138 for the tournament.

First-round leader Darren Clarke struggled with a 76 to fall four back at two- under-par 142. He is followed by Phil Mickelson and U.S. Amateur champion Ricky Barnes, who are tied at one-under-par 143.

Two-time defending champion Tiger Woods was lucky to survive the cut as he got up-and-down for par on the 18th hole to remain at five-over-par 149.

The second round was completed Saturday morning after it was suspended due to darkness Friday evening.

Weir had elected to finish his 12th hole, the third at Augusta, after the horn sounded for suspension of play Friday evening. He knocked his approach to three feet and converted the birdie putt to reach six-under par for the tournament.

The left-hander, who has already won twice on the PGA Tour in 2003, returned to the course Saturday morning. He dropped a shot with a bogey at the par-four fifth. Weir recovered that stroke with a birdie at the par-five eighth to grab a four-stroke lead heading to the third round.

"There is a lot of golf left and I don't want to get ahead of myself," said Weir. "It's a tough mental challenge this Masters tournament. Obviously I'm thrilled to be ahead, but there's a lot of golf to be played."

Clarke, the first-round leader who was tied with Weir when the horn sounded, bogeyed the hole he was on, the 10th, to fall to four-under. The Irishman carded back-to-back bogeys in his last two holes before the stoppage.

When he returned to the course Saturday morning, Clarke's bad luck continued. He double-bogeyed the par-four 11th, his first on Saturday to fall to minus- two. He later bogeyed the par-five 15th, but got that stroke back with a birdie at the par-four 17th.

Mickelson, who trailed Weir by four strokes entering Saturday, dropped his first shot Saturday morning in the water adjacent to the par-three 12th. He made bogey from there and responded with a birdie at the next.

Lefty, who is looking to win his first major championship, also birdied the par-five 15th but fell five strokes off the pace with a double-bogey at the par-three 16th.

Barnes, one of three amateurs to make the cut, came out of the gates with a birdie at the par-five second, his 11th of the round. He knocked his third shot to within 10 feet and he drained that for birdie.

However, the University of Arizona senior bogeyed back-to-back holes from the fourth to slip back to even-par. Barnes responded to his troubles with a birdie at the par-three sixth.

Two-time U.S. Open champion Ernie Els fired a second-round 66 to climb back into contention. He had opened with a seven-over 79, but climbed back to one- over-par 145 with the 66, which ties for the best round of the tournament.

Els began on the front-nine Friday and birdied Nos. 2, 4, and 7. Around the turn, the South African continued his charge. He birdied the tough par-three 12th and went on to birdie the par-four 14th. Els capped his surge with a birdie at the 16th.

Woods barely survived the cut at five-over-par 149 as he got up-and-down from the front bunker on 18 to make par and advance to the weekend. Jack Burke, Jr. was eight shots back after 36 holes at the 1956 Masters but came back to win, no one has ever overcome a greater deficit.

"I knew going out this morning that five-over-par would be the cut," Woods said. "On the last hole that's what I needed to do and I made par."

History will be against Woods if he is to reach the winner's circle Sunday evening. The highest opening round by an eventual champion was a 75 by Craig Stadler in 1982, Woods posted a 76 in his first round.

"If I can get to even-par or under-par after the third round, I'll be looking pretty good. I'll have a chance to win the tournament," said Woods. "I need to get a couple of putts to go in and get the momentum going like I did late Friday evening."

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