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AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Thomas Pieters is trying to play the patience game after carding a rock-solid second-round 68 in tough conditions to move into a four-way share of the lead at the U.S. Masters on Friday.
The lanky 25-year-old Belgian, playing his first Masters, conjured up an eagle and three birdies, making a solitary bogey at the opening hole to finish on four under par.
"My coach told me to please have a lot of patience this week, so I'm trying my hardest," he told reporters.
"I was very patient today after the bogey on one. I just hit it in a very bad spot on one. It's very windy on three, four, five, very tough holes. I made good pars there and stayed patient and got some birdies."
Pieters moved to five under par after 10 holes in the opening round before dropping three shots around Amen Corner, but he negotiated that notorious stretch of the Augusta course without problems on Friday.
"It hurt coming in yesterday, but if I look back and when you do the interviews everybody said 72 is a very good score," he said.
"I'm not going to say I got unlucky yesterday, but I got some bad gusts, like on 12, and hit it in the water. But I kept very calm."
Pieters earned four points on his Ryder Cup debut last year, the best record by a European rookie in the event's history, to enhance his burgeoning reputation, but he is not putting too much pressure on himself.
"As at any tournament, I just like to get within three shots on a Sunday afternoon," he said. "Then you really give yourself a chance."
Pieters is hoping the weather forecast proves correct and the wind drops over the weekend.
"It's mentally so tiring when you're in the wind all day," he said. "Obviously, you have to focus on every golf shot, but these golf shots get a lot tougher when there's a lot of wind.
"Hopefully, it won't blow as much tomorrow. Although I like playing in this kind of wind, it's really tiring at night. You just kind of pass out when you get home."
Editing by Andrew Both