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  Friday, 6 April, 2001, 22:58 GMT 23:58 UK
Tiger on trail of defiant DiMarco
Chris DiMarco
On his own: Chris DiMarco charges on
Chris DiMarco is out on his own at the top of the US Masters leaderboard after another nerveless display.

But Tiger Woods is just two shots behind after completing a superb six-under 66 in his second round at Augusta.

If, as expected, DiMarco's challenge falters, Woods is likely to face an almighty battle with world number two Phil Mickelson, who is alongside him on eight under, and David Duval, who is a shot further back.

  Augusta leaderboard
10 under
Chris DiMarco
Eight under
Tiger Woods & Phil Mickelson
Seven under
Steve Stricker, Lee Janzen, David Duval, Toshi Izawa & Angel Cabrera
Six under
Jose Maria Olazabal, Mark Calcavecchia, Ernie Els & Kirk Triplett
Five under
Darren Clarke

DiMarco defied those pundits who had written him off as a one-round wonder as he followed up his first day 65 with a 69 to stay ahead of the rest of the field.

The American journeyman bogeyed the opening hole but he recovered with four birdies

And he showed an impressive temperament to sink an eight-foot, par-saving putt at 18 after driving the ball into a bunker and coming out short of the green.

"The putt at 18 was big," he said. "I wanted to put it into the 60s again.

"It was big. That was huge for my confidence."

Woods is on target to become the first player to win four Majors in a row.

"I'm very pleased," said Woods. "I'm at eight-under. I can't complain.

Mickelson in touch

"I took advantage of situations and made some good putts. I three-putted twice, but made my share.

"I'm right up there in the ball game and in with a great chance."

Thinking of rookie DiMarco he added: "Experience does help. It makes you feel more at easy. I've been there before and know how to control my emotions."

Mickelson was dangerously placed on eight under, despite a rollercoaster round.

Phil Mickelson
Left is best: Mickelson sinks another putt
The left-hander made up three shots in the outward nine - but a bogey on the 10th and a double-bogey six at the 12th saw him slip back, before he picked up two more birdies to move into joint third spot.

Behind him in joint fourth place were Duval, who was third last year, Argentina's Angel Cabrera, Steve Stricker, Lee Janzen and Japan's Toshi Izawa.

Jose Maria Olzabal - the leading European - was a shot further behind on six under after hitting a 68.

Olazabal had four birdies in five holes from the 11th to charge into the picture.

Darren Clarke is also back in contention after firing a 67 on day two.

The Irishman's dazzling round came to life from the start when he sank a 20-foot putt at the first for a birdie. Further birdies then followed at the 7th, 8th, 10th and 12th holes.

Darren Clarke
Clarke is back in the frame
Highlight of Clarke's effort was a shot he described as one of the best of his career.

It came on the 485-yard par four 10th. He slightly skied his three wood tee shot and needed a five wood for his second, made all the harder by the fact it was from a downhill lie.

Clarke caught it beautifully and almost holed it, the ball hitting the flagstick and finishing three feet away.

"It was a career five wood," he said. "Any time you shoot 67 at Augusta you've got to be pleased. I hit a lot of good shots and I am very happy with the way I am swinging it."

But former European number one Colin Montgomerie is heading for an early exit after slumping to a 76 for a half-way mark of five over.

But he is in illustrious company, with three-time winner Nick Faldo also missing the cut at six over.

Other famous names to fall by the wayside were Thomas Bjorn, Davis Love III, Greg Norman and Ian Woosnam.

And there was to be no fairytale return for the three great names of the 1960s who delighted the galleries on the opening two days - Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

Chris DiMarco
"It's exciting, I couldn't ask for anything else"
Tiger Woods
"I felt like I really played solid today"
BBC Sport's Tony Adamson
"Woods should win tomorrow afternoon but he'll have to earn it"

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