Poulter and Westwood Lead the Masters at the Halfway Point

Iain StrachanCorrespondent IApril 10, 2010

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 06:  Ian Poulter of England and Lee Westwood of England walk together during a practice round prior to the 2010 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2010 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
David Cannon/Getty Images

Englishmen Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood are tied atop the leader board at eight under par at the end of the second day at Augusta National.

The 2010 Masters is poised for a fascinating conclusion with Tiger Woods, Anthony Kim and Phil Mickelson in a share of second along with K.J Choi and Ricky Barnes.

Already the centre of attention leading up to the tournament, the prospect of Woods going head to head with rival Mickelson in his comeback tournament is mouth-watering.

Leaders Poulter and Westwood have both been in contention in recent seasons to end the British drought at major championships.

Poulter finished runner up at the Open Championship in 2008, while Westwood is currently enjoying his best form in years, finishing third at the U.S. Open in 2008 and tied third at the PGA Championship and Open Championship in 2009.

Both have the iron striking ability to keep themselves in contention over Saturday and Sunday, but with highest placed finishes of T11 (Westwood, 2008) and T13 (Poulter, 2007) and numerous missed cuts in the past, do either have the experience on Augusta’s infamously challenging putting surfaces to collect a green jacket?

With four wins already in his fledgling tour career, Anthony Kim has shown himself as a promising talent and a potential star of the future.

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In uncharted territory near the top of the leader board in only his second Masters appearance after an credible T20 finish last year, if he can stay with the leaders until Sunday afternoon, he will announce himself as a genuine force to be reckoned with in the future.

K.J. Choi has seven wins on the PGA Tour but a chequered history in the Masters. Third in 2004 was his best showing, but he hasn’t troubled the top 20 since and has missed two cuts in the past five years.

No such lack of experience for Woods and Mickelson, both of whom have been more concerned with personal issues of late.

Two-time Masters winner Mickelson, already a crowd favourite at Augusta, will receive the full backing of the galleries as his wife and mother battle breast cancer.

Doubts about Woods ability to compete in his first tournament back were dispelled during two impressive rounds on Thursday and Friday.

Tiger must surely be relieved to return to an environment where events are within his ability to influence and this element of familiarity and control may even be an advantage.

Famed for his mental discipline (on the course) the opportunity to set himself on the road to redemption could be a decisive factor in deciding who will don the green jacket on Sunday evening.