Gary Woodland matched the low front-nine in Augusta National history with a six-under par 30 Saturday, but formidable Amen Corner dimmed his hopes of winning the 78th Masters.
The 29-year-old American leaped from 10 strokes off the pace at three-over when the day began into contention with an epic front side and began the back nine with a birdie to pull level for second at four-under.
"I was trying to birdie every hole. I was trying to ride the momentum coming in," Woodland said.
"I was thinking a low number. I was pretty much zoned in, I wasn't hearing what people were saying. I could hear it getting louder. That was about it."
But Woodland, who only booked his spot at the Masters by virtue of qualifying for 2013s year-end Tour Championship, faded from there to end on three-under 69 and stand well back on par 216 after 54 holes.
"It was a zone that you want to be in and hopefully I get back in that zone tomorrow," Woodland said.
The Masters record front-nine score of 30 was set by Johnny Miller in 1975 and matched by Greg Norman in 1988, K.J. Choi in 2004 and Phil Mickelson in 2009 before Woodland joined that group.
"That's pretty cool. It feels great," Woodland said of the front-nine record. "Hopefully I get the back nine tomorrow."
Augusta National's low-nine mark is 29 on the back side by Mark Calcavecchia in 1992 and David Toms in 1998.
Woodland opened with a birdie, added an eagle at the par-5 second and birdied the par-3 sixth before running off three birdies in a row starting at the par-5 eighth.
"I felt the momentum. It was definitely getting louder and louder," he said. "I was definitely feeding off that early.
"I was slowing down a little bit, trying to catch my breath. I was in a groove. I mean I had it going."
But just when Woodland looked ready to challenge the all-time major low 18-hole score of 63, he arrived at the two toughest holes over the first two rounds at Augusta National, the par-4 11th and second-roughest par-3 12th.
Woodland took a bogey at 11 and found the water of Rae's Creek at the 12th, barely clinging to the edge of the bank on his third shot on his way to a double bogey that dropped him to one-under for the tournament.
"I did make a bad swing on 12 and it cost me," Woodland said. "I was playing aggressive. I knew I had to hit it good and I hit it a little bit heavy. When I hit it I knew it was going to be short."
After a birdie at the 13th, the second-easiest scoring hole on the course over the first two rounds, Woodland took bogeys at 14 and 18 to stumble in.
"To be honest, I only missed a couple of shots. And unfortunately they were off the tee box the last couple of holes coming in and that cost me.
"I felt great. And I rode it. I drove the ball beautifully until the last couple holes."
Tony Navarro, Woodland's caddie, was also the bagman for Greg Norman when he shot a 63 at the 1996 Masters.
"Especially with Tony on the bag, I feel very comfortable," Woodland said. "He knows this place's ins and outs."