Yep! A chip to 18 inches and a tap-in, and Patrick Reed is putting his name to a stunning 66. At the halfway stage, he tops a leaderboard with some big names on it. It promises to be quite a weekend ... unless Reed keeps carrying on like this, of course. Join us tomorrow!
-4: McIlroy, Spieth
-3: D Johnson, Thomas
-2: Finau, Fowler, Oosthuizen, Rose, Watson, Hoffman
Reed bangs his drive at 18 straight into the sand. His second is clacked straight at the flag, but it doesn’t bite on the front of the green and topples back off the front. Stenson and Thomas scrambled pars from this spot earlier. Can the leader?
Reed bumps up to six feet. And rolls his par saver into the cup. That was crucial given his dropped shot at the last. Up on 18, Stenson wedges to a couple of feet and makes his par. He signs for a 70 and will be out in the penultimate group tomorrow with McIlroy. Bubba signs for a 69; he’s -2, and the two-time champ isn’t out of this.
-9: Reed (17)
-7: Leishman (F)
-5: Stenson (F)
-4: McIlroy (F), Spieth (F)
While I was droning on about Sergio, Thomas screeched his third into 18 to 12 inches, saving his par majestically. He signs for a 67, and at -3 is right in this Tournament now. Especially as Reed is beginning to stumble on his way home. He hooks his tee shot behind a tree down the left of 17, and can only smash his ball to the front right of the green. Meanwhile on 18, Stenson leaves his second short, and it topples off the front of the green and back down the fairway.
A warm reception for Sergio as he reaches the final green. It’s not been the most auspicious of title defences: he finishes in a tie for 82nd out of 87, at +15, with only two amateurs below him. And that 13 - 13! - will live long in the memory. But hey, if you’re going to blow up, you may as well blow up big. And Seve missed the cut in both of his title defences too, so it can happen to the best of them. Oh, and of course he departed the scene as reigning champion having made a brilliant birdie at 18. Of course he did. Oh Sergio! We still love you!
Reed leaves his long putt on 16 eight feet short. He runs up to mark his ball before a gust of wind can blow it down the glassy green. Much good it does him: he pulls the par putt, and the lead at the top is only two. He’s -9. Meanwhile a mistake by Justin Thomas on 18: he whistles his 3-wood off the tee and into the Lyle Bunker ... then smashes his second against the lip, his ball failing to reach the green. He’s got a job on to save his par now. But on 17, Henrik Stenson makes textbook birdie: a drive straight down the middle, a wedge straight at the flag, a putt straight into the cup. He’s -5.
Tiger blows his cheeks out in frustration after landing his approach at 18 to eight feet, but failing narrowly to tease in the left-to-right curler for his birdie. But at least he’ll be here this weekend: he ends the second round at +4 having carded 75 today. Then Leishman tidies up for his par, and he’ll be signing for a fine 67. He’s alone in second place at -7. Tommy Fleetwood finishes with a par as well, and Europe’s number one is level par at the halfway mark.
Leishman’s tee shot at 18 is tight down the right. He fades one round the corner, but can only find the bunker front left of the green. He splashes out to ten feet, and will have a chance to save his par. Back on 16, Reed’s tee shot dribbles away to the bottom left of the green; the flag’s a good 60 feet away at the top right.
Stenson’s tee shot at 16 is short and left. He’s left with a 70-footer up and over a ridge to the cup, top right of the green. His putt isn’t much cop. He’s left with a tricky 10-footer ... but he guides it in and remains at -4. Par for Thomas at 17. And Reed chips up to six feet at 15, and for the third time today completes a string of three consecutive birdies!
-10: Reed (15)
-7: Leishman (17)
-4: McIlroy (F), Spieth (F), Stenson (16)
Leishman knocks in his par saver on 17. That could be a big putt come the end of the week, because it keeps him in touch with Reed, who crashes one down the middle of 15. Reed’s second over the water isn’t the best shot he’ll ever hit, but though the ball topples over the back of the green, it stops pretty much the second it does so. He’ll have a decent chance to get down in two and extend this lead ...
-9: Reed (14)
-7: Leishman (17)
-4: McIlroy (F), Spieth (F), Stenson (15)
Leishman is in a spot of bother at 17. He’s short and left of the green in two, and his chip on isn’t all that. He’s got a 12-footer left to save his par. Back on 15, Stenson finds the green in two big blasts but he overcooks his long eagle putt and can’t sink the return. A disappointing par. It’s worse for Bubba, though: bogey after getting wet, and he’s back to -2.
Thomas finds the middle of the green at 16 and makes a nondescript par. He’s more than happy with it, moving on, still at -3. A three-putt bogey on the last for Hideki Matsuyama and that’s a 71 to go with his opening-day 73. And Bubba finds water with his approach at 15.
Leishman can’t make his birdie putt on 16. Par will have to do. But he’s two behind Reed now at -7. And a three-putt bogey for his partner Tiger, who drops back to +4. That’s clumsy, and puts him back in a little trouble.
Sergio bumps up onto the green. He’s given it some welly, which might not be the greatest idea. For a second ... oh dear, oh dear, please no, it’d be too much ... but the ball slows down and stops before getting too close to the bank that’d gather it towards yesterday’s blue nemesis. He makes par. That’s an eight-shot improvement on the first round, to be fair. Birdie for Justin Thomas, though, whose chip up from the back was much more delicate. That’s JT’s third in a row, and he’s suddenly -3 for the Tournament and putting a very nice round together.
Oh, ho! Here comes Sergio, ambling down 15! He’s not been going well today either, it’s fair to say: bogeys at 6, 7, 11, 12 and 13, a double at 10, and just the one birdie at 14. He’s +15 overall, not the ideal title defence. At least he’s not wedging into the green this time. Instead, he lashes long towards the flag. He brushes the stick, and the ball topples off the back and down the bank. It’s never going in the water, but he’ll have a hell of a wedge coming back up, with the water he’ll remember so well from yesterday waiting to claim any hot chips. Oh Sergio!
Reed splits the 14th fairway, then lifts a 132-yard wedge to 18 inches or so. He’s making this look absurdly easy. He’ll kick that in to more to -9. Meanwhile up on 16, Leishman lands his tee shot pin high, 12 feet from the flag. It’s only Friday, but the quality is dialled up to Sunday Afternoon already. This is wonderful golf ... and the rest of the field will be mildly worried if these two pull away any further. At this rate, Henrik Stenson will soon find out what it felt like to be everyone else at Troon.
Henrik Stenson finds the back of the 14th green in two, then rolls in a 25-footer, straight as a die, for birdie. He’s -4 again. Up on 15, Tiger’s just off the back of the green, and putting for eagle. There’s a huge left-to-right break on the putt, though, almost impossible to read. He gets it close, and birdie will do. He’s +3 and he should be here this weekend, providing he does nothing daft on the way in. And Marc Leishman knocks in his eagle putt! That was no more than his ballsy, brilliant second shot deserved. Birdie for Tommy Fleetwood, too: he’s level par.
-8: Reed (13)
-7: Leishman (15)
-4: McIlroy (F), Spieth (F), Stenson (14)
Reed sprays his tee shot at 13 into the pines down the right. He’s forced to take his medicine, pitching out and laying up. He sends his third to 15 feet, then rolls in his 18th one-putt of the Tournament! That’s 18 out of 31 holes. Astounding. No wonder he’s three in the lead at -8. Birdie also for Hadwin: he’s back up to -2.
Shot of the day ... nah, of the week, it’s a shoo-in already ... by Marc Leishman! He sends his drive down the right of 15. It looks like the trees are blocking him out, and he’ll have to lay up instead of going for the green. But from 226 yards, he snap-hooks a glorious long iron around the corner! The ball lands over the water, onto the green, and rolls to the left, the slope of the green gathering the ball towards the hole. It stops six feet from the cup! That is astonishing! The sort of shots that Masters champions make.
The PGA champ Justin Thomas rakes in a fine putt from off the back of 14. That’s back-to-back birdies, and he’s -2. Bubba makes birdie on 13 to move to -3. And birdies for Hideki Matsuyama on 13 and now 15: he’s -1.
Reed splashes out of the bunker at the back of 12, using the fringe to take the pace off the ball. He tidies up for a brilliant par. He’s the only one in this final group who escapes with his par. Hadwin (-1) bogeys, while it’s a double bogey for Hoffman (-3). And a three-putt bogey for Leishman on 14. A good few minutes for Reed.
-7: Reed (12)
-5: Leishman (14)
-4: McIlroy (F), Spieth (F)
Justin Thomas has been pootling along quietly. Pars all the way since that dropped shot at 7. But now he nearly rolls in a long eagle putt on 13. Not quite, but he taps in for birdie that brings him up to -1. This is a man who has shot 62-64 over a weekend on Tour this season already. He’s still in with a shout.
Hoffman hits a fat one into the drink at 12. That never even threatened to make it over the water. His ball plunges out of sight with a sickening gulp. Reed’s effort is snaffled by a bunker at the back; he’s lucky his ball rolls back into the middle of the trap, because it was threatening to hang on the downslope, and being shortsided, with water behind, makes it difficult enough. Hadwin’s is the best of the bunch, and he’s missed it left.
Birdie fours for Marc Leishman and Tiger Woods at 13. That moves Tiger away from the cut line to +4, and brings Leishman up to -6. He’s still a shot behind Patrick Reed, who sent a big curling birdie putt at 11 eight feet past the hole ... but knocked in the one coming back. Bogey for Adam Hadwin, a result of a visit to Mizeland: he’s -2. And up on 12, Henrik Stenson clanks his tee shot into the trees at the back of the green. He gets a lucky break, his ball dropping into a bunker instead of sticking on the bank, but he can’t get up and down: he’s -3 again.
-7: Reed (11)
-6: Leishman (13)
-5: Hoffman (11)
-4: McIlroy (F), Spieth (F)
Nothing is certain yet, but it looks as though there will only be one amateur competing this weekend. Doug Ghim carded a 76 today, to add to the level-par 72 he posted yesterday. He should easily avoid the cut at +4, unless something very strange occurs. That’ll mean the young Texan, who qualified as runner up at last year’s US Amateur, will automatically win the Silver Cup for lowest-scoring amateur to make the cut. The only person who can stop him is the man who staged a comeback from two down with two to play to pip him at that US Amateur: Doc Redman. But he’s +8 overall through 12, and that doesn’t look super-likely.
Before Bubba can do anything, Stenson chips in from the front of 11! That grabs back the shot he dropped at 10, and he’s -4 again. Bubba can’t guide in his birdie putt, but fair’s fair, that was a decent par save from where he was back up the hole. That approach shot was so entertaining. Meanwhile back on 10, Hadwin, with the tree denying him backswing, stabs up onto the green to a couple of feet. That’s a shot of genius in itself. He saves his par, which is absurd really. Hoffman scrambles from a tight position too. But Reed can’t get up and down from the bunker and drops to -7.
Bubba manufactures an astonishing shot from behind a tree down the right of 11. He almost pirouettes on the pine straw as he sends a huge hook round the trunk, guiding the ball down to the green. The water not even a consideration! That’s not quite up there with his famous hook from the trees to win the 2012 play-off with Louis Oosthuizen ... but it’s not far off. He’s left with a 30-footer. I hope he knocks that in for birdie, because that shot was sensational, and deserves reward for sheer chutzpah!
Tiger is in serious danger of missing the cut now. He hits a lovely third from the dropzone, to a couple of feet, and will salvage a bogey for the second day in a row. But it’ll drop him to +5, right on the cut line. No room for error, and the outcome may not be in his hands depending on events, unless he starts making a birdie or two. He storms off in a hot funk. Pars for Leishman (-5) and Fleetwood (+1).
Tiger dunked his tee shot at 12 into the water yesterday ... and he does exactly the same thing today! He contemplates burying the hosel of his 8-iron into the tee box, but instead opts for some trenchant self-analysis: “Fucking idiot.” Some more comic stylings are played out on 10, as Reed sends his approach into a bunker on the right, Hoffman pulls his left, and Hadwin really loses his left, dropping his club on the follow-through and watching in horror as his ball nestles in front of a large tree. He’ll have little or no backswing to work with there.
Tiger, Leishman and Fleetwood all guide brave second shots into 11, caring not a jot about the water on the left. Surely someone will be rewarded with birdie? Nope! They’re +4, -5 and +1 respectively. (Fleetwood’s bid having hit the skids with bogeys at 7, 8 and 10.) Stenson meanwhile pulls his second down the bank to the left of 10. His chip up towards the green snags in the turf. He bumps his next shot to the side of the cup, so the damage is limited to bogey, but that’s the 2016 Open champ back to -3.
A lucky break for Adam Hadwin on 9. His chip into the green has way too much backspin on it, and that’s heading off the steep slope at the front. It should by rights trundle about 50 yards back down the fairway, but somehow it snags on the tight turf and stops. Hadwin still has a job to get up and down, mind, and he bumps up nicely to a couple of feet and tidies up to save his par. Charley Hoffman scrambles par from behind the bunker on the left; a fine effort seeing he’d driven into trees down the right. But Patrick Reed creams his second over the flag to 12 feet, and he rolls in the birdie putt. He’s out in 31 strokes, having started out with three birdies in a row, and finished the front nine in similar style. He’s taking charge of this Masters.
-8: Reed (9)
-5: Leishman (10), Hoffman (9)
-4: McIlroy (F), Spieth (F), Stenson (9)
-3: D Johnson (F), Wiesberger (15), Hadwin (9)
Back-to-back birdies for Jason Day at 8 and 9. He’s +1, and heads for the turn with a spring in his step that suggests he doesn’t consider his bid over. Birdie for Bernd Wiesberger on 15: he’s -3. But it’s a bogey for Zach Johnson on 11; he’s back to -1. Here’s Simon McMahon: “I’m now rooting for Sergio to finish in last place. That would be history, of a sort. First to last in the space of a single year. They could give him a green wooden spoon or something. Looks like Harry Ellis will deny him, but if he goes round Amen Corner in six over par, with 15 still to come, it could be back on.”
The last group of lads are all doing very nicely, thank you. It had been a poor start for Adam Hadwin, with bogeys at 2 and 5. But he’s turned it round with back-to-back birdies at 7 and 8. He’s -3. Charley Hoffman makes his third birdie of the day; he’s -5. And it’s three out of three birdies on the par five, as Patrick Reed finds the heart of the green in two, makes two easy putts, and consolidates his position at the top.
-7: Reed (8)
-5: Leishman (10), Hoffman (8)
-4: McIlroy (F), Spieth (F), Stenson (8)
-3: D Johnson (F), Hadwin (8)
Rose splits the fairway at 18. If only he could have done that 12 months ago in the play-off, huh. He clips his second to 12 feet. Dustin matches him shot for shot. Only DJ manages to convert for birdie, though. Rose is -2; Dustin -3; both nicely positioned for the weekend.
Tiger is clinging on: he rolls in a 15-foot downhill effort on 9 to save his par and remain at +4. Zach Johnson fluffs a pitch at the front of 10, but rolls in a huge par saver to stay at -2. Bubba rolls in a big left-to-right breaker on 8 for his fourth birdie of the day: he’s -2. And Henrik Stenson finds the middle of 8 in two big crashes, rolls the long eagle putt up to a couple of feet, and tidies up for a birdie that moves him to -4.
Latest leaderboard? Whyever not.
-6: Reed (7)
-5: Leishman (9)
-4: McIlroy (F), Spieth (F), Hoffman (7)
-3: Stenson (7)
Jordan Spieth pushes his birdie effort at 18. It was never going in, heading right the second it left the face. Never mind: that’s a fine 74 given he started out 6-6. He’s -4, and will be a big part of this Masters at the weekend. Meanwhile Big Dustin follows up his silly save at 16 with another act of astonishing escapology at 17: a wild drive into the trees down the right, a stab out, then an easy wedge and putt to stay at -2.
Patrick Reed regains the lead. He lands his second at 7 pin high, 15 feet from the flag, and trundles in the birdie putt. He’s -6. Meanwhile up on 18, Jordan Spieth finds the Lyle Bunker with his tee shot ... then hits a Lyle Iron into the green. That’s a wonderful shot, not wholly dissimilar to the 1988-winning strike by our Sandy. He’ll have a great look at a birdie that’d take him to -5 and salvage nearly all of the damage caused at 1 and 2 today.
Rory talks to Sky Sports. “It feels OK. I played really well on the back nine. I had chances all the way in. I’m a little frustrated that I’m not in the clubhouse six or seven under par. I left a couple out there. The wind was up, the pin positions were tricky, it was tough to get it close. You have to stay patient around here! There are some six-footers where you have to give it two feet of break. You have to hole your fair share.”
No birdie for Tiger on 8: he stays at +4 and continues to exude disappointment. And a fine scrambled par by Jordan Spieth from the front of 17. He remains at -4. “A good chance I would have thought of McIlroy and Spieth playing together tomorrow, maybe even last out,” writes Adam Hirst. “I’ve been wanting this to happen for a couple of years now, those two duking it out at the top of one of these major thingies.”
Some characteristically absurd shenanigans involving Dustin Johnson. His tee shot at 16 is decent enough, 15 feet above the hole. His tapped birdie putt trundles past the cup and 50 feet down the green. Oh Dustin! But you already know what happens next, don’t you. That’s right, he drains the par putt! The patrons go loco. He stays at -2 in the most marvellously ludicrous fashion. His antics manage to obscure a fine two-putt par from his partner Justin Rose from 60 feet.
Justin Thomas hands a shot back, from prime position in the centre of 7 too. His second flies through the green, his chip back doesn’t make it up the hill, and two putts later he’s scribbling a bogey five on his card. He’s level par again. Meanwhile up on 18, McIlroy finds the centre of the green, but can’t tease home his downhill ten-footer. Par, and he’s signing for a decent 71 that moves him to -4 and keeps him very much in the hunt. Incidentally, his playing partner Jon Rahm came back in 32 strokes, after birdies at 11, 13, 15 and 16. After yesterday’s poor 75, the Spaniard is in this Tournament again! He’s -1 overall.
Matt Kuchar yips at what should be his final putt of the day, and that’s a needless bogey. He’s signing for a 75, having dropped back into the pack at -1. Rickie Fowler signs for a par 72: he’s -2 for the Tournament. Back on 15, Justin Rose clatters a gorgeous second into the heart of 15; a calm two-putt birdie is his prize. He’s -2.
The in-form Bubba was very quiet yesterday, shooting a bog-standard 73. Today he’s firing on all cylinders: birdies at 2, 3 and now 6 more than offsetting the one dropped shot at the very difficult par-three 4th. He’s -1. On 8, Zach Johnson clips a wedge to a couple of feet, and will surely kick in for a birdie that’ll move the 2007 champ to -3. And up on the last, Phil drops yet another stroke, and smiles thinly as he puts his name to a 79. He’s +5, right on the cut line; he’ll be holding his breath for the next three or four hours.
Charley Hoffman likes it round here: a top-ten finish three years ago, a couple of top-3o finishes since. And he’s at it again. After yesterday’s 69, he’s in credit today: bogey at the opening hole, but birdies at 2 and now 5. He moves to -4, just one off the lead - which still includes Marc Leishman, the Aussie having done very well to scramble his par after that wild drive on 7. He got his second to within touching distance of the green, and got up and down to salvage his score. Par for Spieth at 16; par for McIlroy at 17.
Tiger hasn’t got moving this afternoon. He sends his second at 7 just off the back, then races his birdie putt a good ten feet past the hole. He knocks in the return to save his par. He stays at +4, on the right side of the projected +5 cut. There are currently 55 players at +5 or better; it’s the top 50 and ties, plus players within ten strokes of the lead, who will remain here at the weekend. The margins are slim, unless he can get moving the other way soon. A par five next, though!
Jordan Spieth’s comeback continues! He finds the heart of 15 in two big blows. His long eagle putt trundles 18 feet past. No worries! He strokes the return straight into the cup, and that’s a birdie that brings him back to -4. Justin Thomas holes one from just off the green at 6: it’s his third birdie of the day already, and he’s -1. Rickie Fowler, having dropped a stroke at 16, picks it up again at 17: he’s -2. And look at the veteran Vijay Singh! The 2000 champion follows up birdie at 8 with another at 10, and the 55-year-old Fijian is right in the mix!
-5: Leishman (6), Reed (4)
-4: McIlroy (16), Spieth (15)
-3: Singh (10), Stenson (5), Hoffman (4)
Patrick Reed surrenders sole ownership of the lead. His tee shot at the par-three 4th clattered into the stand on the left; he failed to get up and down, and he’s back to -5. He might be handed it back soon, mind, because Marc Leishman has just flayed a wild drive deep into the trees down the right of 7. Meanwhile up on 16, Rory clips his tee shot pin high, and very nearly drains the uphill 25-footer for birdie. He remains at -4, just one off the new lead.
Justin Rose’s putter has betrayed him in the last hour or so. A three-putt on 11, a tiddler yipped at 12, and now a birdie chance from 12 feet passed up at 14. Birdie at 13 is the one bright note in that little run, and it keeps him in good nick at -1. Tony Finau’s in the clubhouse with a 74, incidentally; he’s -2, having rescued an average round with birdie at the last.
McIlroy lags a long putt from the fringe at the back of 15 to a couple of feet. That’s only a par at the par-five, but he’d have settled for that score when he saw his second come hot off the face, and sail dangerously close to the water. He stays a couple off the lead at -4. Meanwhile Tommy Fleetwood continues to amble across Augusta in a very calm and considered fashion: another par, this time at 6, and he’s -2 for both his round today (having birdied 2 and 3) and the Tournament.
Here’s the world number two, the most in-form player right now, Justin Thomas. He posted a very disappointing 74 yesterday, but he’s started very well today, with birdies at 2 and 4 that bring him back to level par for the Tournament. Up on 16, bother for Phil, who sends his tee shot into sand at the back of the green. He’s left with a delicate splash down the putting surface, and having overhit it, is happy to see the fringe stop the ball before it drops into the water. Two putts, and that’s another shot gone. He’s never been the same today since hitting a tree flush on 9. He’s +4, and his dreams of becoming the oldest Master are as good as over already.
Tiger managed to get up and down from the sand at 5, after all that hassle in the bushes. He’s limited the damage to a double bogey, and drops to +4. Meanwhile up on 15, Rory sends his second through the green and flirts with the water at the back. His ball stops on the bank, but he’ll have a hell of a chip up. His bump up doesn’t reach the putting surface, but he doesn’t look too upset: if he’d hit that one hot, it’d have been through the green and into the drink on the other side like a shot. Still, he’s left with an up and down from the fringe to save his par.
Thanks to Michael. Tomorrow is Moving Day, of course ... rain permitting ... but maybe that qualified as Moving Hour, because a lot of big names made some positive strides at last. Patrick Reed with three birdies in the first three holes, matching the feat of Marc Leishman earlier, to take the lead. A birdie at 13 for Jordan Spieth. Birdie for Zach Johnson at 5. Birdie for his namesake Dustin at 13. Birdie at 13 for Louis Oosthuizen. And a shot picked up by Henrik Stenson at 2. So here’s the latest leaderboard:
-6: Reed (3)
-5: Leishman (5)
-4: McIlroy (14), Stenson (3)
-3: Spieth (14), Oosthuizen (15), Z Johnson (6), Hoffman (3)
Scott is back from his break so I’ll hand you back. Enjoy the rest of day two! Bye!
McIlroy is on a roll! Back-to-back birdies – at 13 and 14 – means he’s tied for third with Stenson! The Northern Irishman played a wonderful tee shot from 13, with his second shot bouncing on the green and rolling to the back of it, just short of the dangerous bunker. From there he two-putts. On 14, his tee shot just about stays on the right edge of the fairway, he flies his second shot onto the green, and then sinks a 27-footer (!!!) to move to -4. Who would bet against McIroy in this sort of form?
Tiger, meanwhile, has hit a couple of horrible shots at 5. His tee shot goes right into the patrons, and despite a decent lie, Tiger absolutely whacks it clear the green, his ball rolling well into the magnolias. He’s going to have to take a drop from inside the bush! He can only dink it out into the bunker, and is facing a triple-bogey. This could be curtains for Tiger, such a shame after his par at 4.
Any social players out there – myself included – will recognise this sort of golf: this triple-bogey at 9 took Phil from -2 to +1 after a wayward drive, a bump off some trees, a dropped shot and a loose chip from the rough. He’s since slipped to +3 thru 14. Ouch.
Just like Leishman, Reed has started birdie, birdie! Reed landed in the bunker at 2, but duffed his way out beautifully to within four feet and knocked in his birdie. That means we have a tie for the lead: Reed and Leishman are at -5!
Tiger at 4, his tee shot clearing the green and ending up by the fifth tee! But a delightful, delicate dink is beautifully weighted, and Woods clips the fringe, the ball carefully rolling back onto the green. He did well not to overcook that chip, it’s a lightning fast downhill slope. As it is, he has a tricky 11ft downhill putt … and makes his par! Wow! That was quite something from Tiger! He doesn’t make any impression on the leaderboard, but that par save will do him a world of good. The crowd are pumped up!
Leishman is making moves, man. The Australian has started his first three holes with three birdies, and once again takes an outright lead at the top! He’s now on -5, after a delicious chip at 3 left him three feet from the hole. No problem for our red-hot leader, he sinks in. Leishman looks very focused, as he marches off to the fourth tee.
Kuchar is playing very well and after a bogey at 12, he responds immediately at the par-five 13 with a birdie. Unlike many of those around him, he’s not falling away … yet. Stenson, meanwhile, is out of the clubhouse and has started like a train and now shares second place with Cabrera-Bello and Reed after a birdie at 2. His second shot just about pulled up short before the bunker on the front of the green and he’s able to two putt from there. He looks well set for another birdie on the par-four 3, too, after a huge 327-yard drive to leave him within 50 yards of the pin.
The same can’t be said for Mickelson, who continues to nosedive back through the field. He’s now +5 today thru 13, which means he’s at +3. Tiger misses a chance for birdie at 3, his putt squirting left to right just before the hole. He remains at +2.
Cabrera Bello hits straight back, to tie the lead! He birdies at 9, pars at 10 and starts Amen Corner by smoking a drive 282 yards straight onto the fairway. He’ll have a perfect approach shot into the green, where Spieth has made a miraculous recovery. His drive ended up so far right that is ended up the other side of the trees, and the overnight leader was able to go back over the foliage and reach the back of the green in two. He two-putts from about 70ft to make his par. Excellent scrambling there. That’s a long par four – 505 yards – and maybe the hardest hole on the course with a narrow drive.
As Scott mentioned, we have a new leader! Leishman has started birdie, birdie and looks in ominous form. Here’s how he started at the first.
Meanwhile, Spieth is at Amen corner and has gone right, near to where Tiger was yesterday.
Right, I’m going to hand over to Michael Butler for a bit. Back soon, but I’ll leave you with the latest - much-changed, super-concentrated - leaderboard. With all-new leader, thanks to Marc Leishman’s second birdie at 2!
-4: Leishman (2)
-3: Cabrera Bello (9), Wiesberger (6), Stenson, Reed, Hoffman, Hadwin
-2: Fowler (12), Kuchar (12), McIlroy (11), Spieth (10), Oosthuizen (10), Z Johnson (2)
-1: Smith (F), Finau (15), Rose (9), D Johnson (9), Moore (8), Singh (5), Stanley (3), Fleetwood (2)
Mickelson meanwhile only just finds the front of the dancefloor from the dropzone, and has a long putt for bogey. He very nearly drains it, but that’s another double, and he’s clanking down the leaderboard to +3. A bogey, double and triple in the last four holes. Oh Phil! Kuchar meanwhile doesn’t take advantage of his big break. duffing his chip and leaving himself with a long putt from the fringe. Two strokes with the flat stick, and he drops out of the lead to -2. And spare a thought for poor Rickie Fowler, who clipped a lovely tee shot to 12 feet, but somehow his well-struck birdie putt didn’t drop. He stays at -2.
More woe for Phil Mickelson II: He’s short and wet at 12. Oh dear. His challenge is beginning to unravel again. Some luck for his partner Matt Kuchar, though, whose tee shot is big, but doesn’t stick on the azalea-covered bank, dropping back down towards the green. It’s not ideal, but it’s much the better of the two options he had when the ball was sailing through the sky, taking his hopes and dreams with it.
More woe for Phil Mickelson. He sends his second at 11 into Larry Mize Country. Faced with a treacherous green, and water behind it, he quits on his lob shot. Now there’s something you don’t see every day: a mishit Phil Flop. His second attempt goes close, rolling quickly enough towards the hole to appreciate why Phil was so hesitant in the first place. But that’s a bogey, and he’s back to +1. Pars for Kuchar and Fowler, who stay at -3 and -2 respectively.
Tiger can’t make his par, a 20-foot putt slipping away to the right. That’s a dismal bogey from prime position in the fairway. He slips back to +2. But it’s a birdie for Marc Leishman, who joins the leading group at -3 after swishing his second to ten feet. Par for Tommy Fleetwood, who stays at level par. Elsewhere, birdie for Cabrera Bello on 8, as the Spaniard rejoins the leading pack. And a very fine par save by Spieth on 9, who wanged his drive miles right, but gave himself a chance by sending his second greenside, then getting up and down from the back. He stays at -2, but he’s taken 40 to reach the turn.
Tiger’s out and about! And he starts by blootering a 340-yard drive down the middle of Tea Olive. Perfectly placed. But he misses badly, sending his ball down into the swale to the left of the green. His chip up only just remains on the green, and he’ll have a testing par putt.
This isn’t quite as good as Sergio making birdie on 16 yesterday after running up 13 on the 15th ... but Phil Mickelson rebounds from that tree-bothering triple-bogey on 9 with birdie at 10. His iron into the elevated green, arrowed straight at the flag, is as good an approach as we’ve seen on that difficult hole all week. He’s back to level par for the Tournament, and despite it all, just three off the lead.
A strong end to 1988 hero Sandy Lyle’s round. The first British player to win a green jacket birdied 13, 15 and 16, which hauled him up the standings to +6 for the Tournament. That burst may be enough to survive the cut ... which currently stands at +8, and won’t be sending too many people home, though it’s way too early to speculate at the moment. More hot cut chat later, as the picture becomes clearer.
Jordan Spieth just can’t get it going today. He crashes onto the par-five 8th green in two big strokes, but ends up missing a ten-footer for birdie. A disappointing three-putt par. He stays at -2. Tony Finau continues to slip, thankfully just down the leaderboard this time: bogey at 11 means he’s three over today, and -1 for the Tournament. And the very early clubhouse leader is Cameron Smith of Australia: he’s followed up yesterday’s 71 with a 72, and stands at -1.
If Fred Couples plays this weekend, he’ll be in a tie in second place with Gary Player for most cuts made at Augusta: 30 to Jack Nicklaus’s 47. He should make it easily, too, because he followed up that birdie at 12 with another at 13. He’s back to +1, a fine response after that triple-bogey blowout at 11. Meanwhile at the top, Bernd Wiesberger bogeys 4 to drop back into the pack at -3. And Ryan Moore has birdied 6 to rise to -1; he’s three under for his round, which is quite something on a day when red figures on the leaderboard are at a premium.
Mickelson is left with a downhill slider for triple bogey. He strokes it in, but that seven means he reaches the turn in 39, and he crashes down to +1 for the Tournament. The gallery falls quiet as he wanders off with the air of a man who worries that the jig might already be up. It’s probably a bit early to be thinking like that ... but sevens on your card don’t encourage positivity. Par for Kuchar (-3) and bogey for Fowler (-2) seem undramatic by comparison.
Phil flops up onto the green. He doesn’t give it enough, and the ball threatens to topple off the front of the severely sloping green. He’s very lucky that the fringe stops his ball, because you’ve seen them running off back down the fairway from there. He rattles his putt up the green and towards the cup; it’s close, but sails six feet past. This is getting very messy.
Phil the Thrill is in awful trouble down the right of 9. Having crashed a wild drive into the pines, he tries to flash his second through a gap in the trees ... but hits one trunk flush, his ball twanging back and right, into further trouble. He’s forced to take a drop ... and though it’s not yet confirmed, talk is that it’s an unplayable. So he hits his fourth up towards the green ... and only finds the patrons down the right. He’s left with a chip up a steep bank, and not much in the way of green to play with. This could be terribly costly for the 2004, 2006 and 2010 champion.
And we have a new leader, because the big Austrian Bernd Wiesberger - previously steady at Augusta National but never spectacular - has just followed up his birdie at 2 with another at 3. Factoring in the recent oscillations of Fowler and Spieth, plus another bogey for the erratic Cabrera Bello, this time at 6, the leaderboard is, like the Love Boat, exciting and new!
-4: Wiesberger (3)
-3: Fowler (8), Kuchar (8), Stenson, Reed, Hoffman, Hadwin
-2: Mickelson (8), McIlroy (7), Spieth (7), Cabrera Bello (6), Z Johnson, Leishman
Spieth’s second into 7 is short and right. With the pin tucked tightly behind bunkers on that side of the hole, getting up and down is a job of work. And it’s one he can’t complete. Another dropped shot for the overnight leader, who slips out of the leading group: he’s -2. Meanwhile up on 13, Amen Corner finally catches Haotong Li. He doesn’t connect with his approach at all, giving up on his swing halfway through. It’s so weak the ball doesn’t reach Rae’s Creek. He very nearly salvages par, an inch or so away from draining a big right-to-left curler. But he’s back down to +2 now.
A 60-foot eagle effort for Matt Kuchar at the par-five 8th. He severely undercooks it, leaving himself ten feet short. His birdie effort stays on the right lip, and that’s a three-putt par. Very disappointing for the co-leader, who spurns a golden chance to snatch the glory for himself. Then Fowler trundles one in from 30 feet for birdie, and he joins the pack in the lead at -3! Par for Mickelson who remains at -2.
Do we need another player in the leading group at -3? Well, we’ve got one. Bernd Wiesberger, with birdie at 2. Big Dustin slips back to level par for the Tournament with bogey at 5. And an opening-hole birdie for Daniel Berger, one of the USA’s many major champions in waiting. The 24-year-old from Florida often gets forgotten amid all the talk of your Spieths and Thomases ... but he’s already got a top-ten finish here to his name. And after yesterday’s 73, he’s positioned nicely enough this week. He’s level par for the Tournament.
Justin Rose never got into red figures yesterday. But he battled and battled, and birdie on the 18th meant he was signing for a level-par 72. Now he’s finally crossed into credit, having bogeyed 1 but bounced back with birdies at 3 and now 5. Last year’s runner-up is now -1 for both round and Tournament. Also bouncing back: Boom Boom, with birdie at 12, moving up to +2 ... and Cabrera Bello, picking one up again at 5 to rejoin the leading pack at -3.
McIlroy drops out of the leading bunch, failing to get up and down from the back of the par-three 6th. Cabrera Bello slips back, too, with bogey at 4. Very few folk are moving forward, the aforementioned Oosthuizen and DJ apart. But here’s Ryan Moore, with early birdies at 2 and 3: he’s suddenly level par for the Tournament, and his is the best round on the course right now. Augusta National is playing hard, fast and tough.
Up on 11, disaster for Fred Couples, who sends his approach into Larry Mize Country, then whistles a chip across the green and into the water. He runs up a triple-bogey 7. That follows birdie at 8 and bogey on 10, so he’s dropped four shots in two holes. He’s +3 for both his round today and the Tournament. Meanwhile after getting out of position, his partner Li nearly holes out from the fairway for the second day in a row. He’ll happily settle for par ... and then caresses the shot of the week so far at 12 to 18 inches! He’ll kick that in for a birdie that’ll bring him back to +1. Li birdied every hole of Amen Corner yesterday: he’s taken to this place, it’s fair to say.
One of the very many co-leaders, Matt Kuchar, gets himself into a spot of trouble down the left of 7. He can only find the bunker at the front of the green, but splashes out to four feet to scramble his par. His partners Mickelson and Fowler both set up birdie chances, though. First Rickie from 20 feet: it shaves the right lip. So close. Then Phil from eight feet, but that one doesn’t drop either. Kuchar stays at -3; Mickelson and Fowler at -2.
The world number one Dustin Johnson has been quiet, by his own standards. He signed for a one-over 73 yesterday. But he’s exploded out of the blocks this morning, knocking in a 30-footer for eagle at 2. That brings him up the leader board to -1. Going the other way: Xander Schauffele, with bogeys at 5 and 6 more than negating his birdie at 4. He’s back to level par.
An up-and-down start for Rafa Cabrera Bello. Bogey at 2, and now a bounce-back birdie at 3. It brings him into an eight-way tie for the lead at -3, with Kuchar, McIlroy, Spieth, Stenson, Reed, Hoffman and Hadwin. This is gloriously ridiculous. Speaking of which, Haotong Li had reached the turn in 42, carding another double at 9 after another wild drive. He’s in trouble again up 10, down the steep bank front-left of the green. But he slam-dunks the chip into the cup for a much-needed birdie! He flings his club into the air in theatrical glee, nearly braining poor Freddie Couples as he does so. But it’s all taken in good spirit. Yes, there’s something of the showman in Haotong Li alright.
There are ways of making par, and ways of making par. Rickie Fowler - who had birdied 5 - sent his tee shot at the par-three 6th wide right of the green. Faced with a treacherous downhill chip, he sent it sliding 70 feet past the hole. And then, to the astonishment and delight of the punters, he rolled in the monster putt to save his par! He stays at -2, just one off the lead!
Spieth makes a meal of Flowering Peach. His drive is straight and true, but his chip up is clumsy, and he’s left with a 15-footer coming back. He can’t make it, and a genuine birdie opportunity is passed up. A little succour is provided by Rory McIlroy, who can’t get up and down from the back of the testing par-three 4th, and slips out of the lead ... for a second or two. That’s because Matt Kuchar pulls his second to 5 into sand, an error from the centre of the fairway that costs him bogey. Nobody’s moving forward right now ... except for Louis Oosthuizen, who birdies 3 and is just a shot off the lead. This is a very crowded leaderboard. Can you spot your favourite? Pretty much everyone, apart from poor old Sergio, is on it.
-3: Kuchar (5), McIlroy (4), Spieth (3), Stenson, Reed, Hoffman, Hadwin
-2: Finau (7), Mickelson (5), Fowler (5), Oosthuizen (3), Cabrera Bello (3), Wiesberger, Z Johnson, Leishman
Mickelson loses his early momentum, carelessly at the par-three 4th. His tee shot topples off the back of the green. It should be a reasonably simple up and down for a player with his short game, but a heavy chip rolls eight feet past the hole and he can’t hole out coming back. He drops into the group at -2.
Rory joins the leaders with birdie at 3! He skelps his drive down the bank to the left of the green at the short par-four, then chips up to four feet and knocks in his putt. Tony Finau continues to move the wrong way, though: a second bogey of the day at 6, and perhaps that sleepless night worrying about his ankle on Wednesday is beginning to catch up with him. He’s -2. And Jordan Spieth’s travails continue! Another wild drive, this time down the left of 2, leads to a dropped shot at the par-five. This is an uncharacteristic wobble by the young Texan, who has now dropped four shots in the last three holes he’s played.
-4: Kuchar (3), McIlroy (3)
-3: Mickelson (3), Spieth (2), Cabrera Bello (1), Stenson, Reed, Hoffman, Hadwin
McIlroy repairs the damage of that opening bogey with birdie at 2. He’s back up to -3, just one off Kuchar and Spieth’s lead. His playing partner Jon Rahm is also fixing things up nicely: eagle at 2 offsets the damage made by inexplicably finding water on 16 yesterday. He’s back to +1 overall. Jimmy Walker gets back in credit today with birdie at 8: he’s level par again for the Tournament. And Xander Schauffele, last year’s Tour Championship winner, continues to enjoy his Augusta debut: a birdie at 4 to follow yesterday’s impressive 71, and he’s -2 overall.
Li’s struggles continue. The poor young chap is really feeling it today. His drive at 7 is tight down the right. His second finds sand. Not for the first time this week, he catches one clean out of the trap, and his ball flies hysterically off to the 17th! He chips back through the trees and holds the green wonderfully, using the shoulder of a bunker to stop his ball topping off the front. He very nearly drains the 30-foot bogey putt, but that’s a double that sends him crashing down to +1. He’s four over for his round already. Yesterday’s 69 suddenly seems an awful long time ago.
The leader Jordan Spieth makes an awful mess of Tea Olive. His opening drive is sliced deep into the trees down the right. He doesn’t make a great job of extricating himself from the situation, and can’t find the green with his third. He’s just off the front. And he doesn’t get up and down from there, when he desperately needed to. That’s a double bogey. What a shocker of a start by the Tournament leader. Remember he was standing on the 18th tee yesterday evening at -7, three clear of the field, before dropping a shot there. Now look...
-4: Kuchar (2), Spieth (1)
-3: Finau (5), Mickelson (2), Cabrera Bello, Stenson, Reed, Hoffman, Hadwin
-2: McIlroy (1), Wiesberger, Z Johnson, Leishman
A miserable start to the round for Rory McIlroy. After skelping his opening drive into the trees down the left, he looks to have salvaged the situation by reaching the green in regulation. But a hideous misread leaves his first putt 15 feet short, and that leads to a bogey that drops him to -2. Not the sort of thing you can afford when Jordan Spieth is heading up the leaderboard, and behind you watching. Meanwhile up on 2, birdie for Phil Mickelson: he’s just three shots back at -3!
Fred Couples continues to serenely perambulate around Augusta. His tee shot at the par-three 6th topples back off the front of the green, much to the displeasure of the patrons. No matter! He flips a delicate lob onto the green to five feet, and knocks in the saver. Six pars in a row and he stays at level par for the Tournament. Meanwhile his partner Haotong Li showcases his sense of humour, knocking in a five-footer to save his par and avoiding the ignominy of three bogeys on the bounce. He punches the air with both fists, grinning broadly in mock celebration. He stays at -1, and has a bit of crowd-pleasing star quality about him. He’s enjoying himself, even if he’s been struggling a little today. “In your life (like the famous Verne Lundquist call of Tiger’s chip in 2005) wouldn’t you love to be able to do anything as easily and as well as Couples plays golf?” wonders Hubert O’Hearn. “No competitive rounds for a year, one of the toughest courses there is, elite competition? Yawn, scratch, stretch - BANG! - in the Top Ten. As you do.”
Scoring is proving difficult on a warm but slightly windy morning. Jimmy Walker bogeys 6, meaning he’s back where he started the day at +1. That means the only man out there in red figures for his round today is the 2012 US Open champion Webb Simpson: birdies at 2 and 3 have taken him up to +2, after yesterday’s miserable 76. The 2011 Masters champ Charl Schwartzel is heading the other way: bogeys at 1 and 3 drop him to +2.
Mickelson strokes his par putt straight into the cup. He strides off the green with the air of a relieved man. That’s a fine escape. Bogey for Fowler, though; a dismal effort after a perfect drive; he’s -1. Kuchar cleans up to remain at -4. Another dropped shot for Li, meanwhile, and his driver has cost him again. He found a deep bunker to the left of 5, caught the lip with his second, and bogey was almost inevitable. Back-to-back bogeys drop him to -1.
Kuchar takes his medicine, punching back out onto the fairway. Then he wedges to six feet. Mickelson is able to slice his ball round the trunk of a tree, sending his ball all the way up to the verge of the green. A good result from where he was. He’s off the putting surface but takes his flat stick ... and leaves his putt a good 15 feet short. Fowler misses the green to the left from the middle of the fairway. His bump up from the swale is weak, and he’s ten feet short. All of a sudden Kuchar is the most likely to save his par, which just goes to show the value of a calm head in a crisis.
Here comes the three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson! Lefty carded a two-under 70 yesterday, without ever getting anywhere near top gear. He hoicks his opening drive today into the trees down the left. And this is a very interesting group. Rickie Fowler is up next: he splits the fairway, hoping to build on yesterday’s 70, which culminated in a three-birdie blitz on 15, 16 and 17. Finally it’s the ever-hovering Matt Kuchar, like Fowler one of the game’s great major-championship bridesmaids. Kuch shot a superb 68 yesterday; he’s two off Spieth’s lead, currently alone in second spot. But he’s hooked his opening drive into the woods down the left. The first look at where his ball has landed, by the trunk of a pine, suggests he might not have a swing.
Li splashes out to ten feet, but tugs his par putt. A rare nerve-betraying pull from an impressive player. He drops back to -2. Couples never looks like sinking his birdie effort, but he tidies the par putt away without fuss from a couple of feet, and the 1992 champ has started out with four pars today.
Li can’t convert a birdie putt from the fringe at the back of 3. But that’s another par, and this is a solid start by the young man. Here comes the hellishly difficult par-three 4th, though ... and he’s sent his tee shot into the bunker to the left of the green. His playing partner Fred Couples clacks calmly towards the rear portion of the putting surface, just to the right of the flagstick. He’ll have a look at birdie from 20 feet. Elsewhere, Smith’s erratic round continues apace with bogey at 7: he’s -1 for the Tournament again. And Walker drops one at 4, so he’s back to level par overall. Walker is still under par for his round today, though, the only player in credit out there so far today.
Jimmy Walker is in the mood today. Another birdie, this time at 3, and he rises to -1. Cameron Smith is on the up again, too, scrubbing out that bogey at 5 with birdie at 6. He’s back to -2 for the Tournament. Just the one par so far for the young Aussie this morning. “After finally winning the damn thing last year, Sergio was always going to have to do something outstanding this year to be truly legendary,” begins Matt Dony. “Yesterday was a magnificent attempt at sporting immortality, so what can we expect today? A jazz flute solo on the 8th green? A Connor McGregor style outbreak of violence against a bus? A Kim Jong-Il-esque series of holes-in-one? The possibilities are endless.” You’ve really whetted the appetite here, Matt. Here’s hoping he takes to the 1st tee like RJ Sizzle.
The first big change at the top of the leaderboard today sees Tony Finau fall out of a tie for second place. The 28-year-old Utah saint shot a magnificent four-under 68 yesterday, and the fact that it was his debut round at Augusta was rather obscured by his ankle-popping antics of the day before. So ... yeah, that was some introduction to life at the Masters. And after an opening-hole bogey, too. Well, he’s dropped a stroke at Tea Olive again today. It’ll be interesting if he can launch a similar fightback in his second round. That left leg’s got to be giving him gyp, though.
-3: Li (2), Finau (1), McIlroy, Cabrera Bello, Stenson, Reed, Hoffman, Hadwin
Another birdie chance for Fred Couples. This one’s on 2, set up by a nerveless flop over sand to six feet. But he leaves this one high on the right. It was never going in. A couple of half-decent putts away from a very fast start, but it’s par-par and he remains at level. Li meanwhile cradles his long birdie putt to a couple of feet, and that’s another fine par for the young Chinese star after a couple of extremely wild drives.
Ian Poulter is out early. The new Houston Open champion shot a two-over 74 yesterday, but he’s moving in the right direction today with birdie at 2. Doug Ghim continues to entertain. The amateur responds to that opening-hole double bogey with birdies at 2 and 3 and a bogey at 4. He’s +1. The 2016 PGA champ Jimmy Walker birdies 2 to move to level par for the Tournament. Cameron Smith drops a stroke at 5; he’s -1 again. And the 2008 champion Trevor Immelman continues to struggle, following up yesterday’s dismal 78 with bogeys at the opening two holes: he’s +8.
Li has driven into a lot of bother. He’s deep in the trees, though his ball is sitting up on the pine straw. No time for heroics. “I just wanna make par,” he tells his caddy, course management uppermost in his mind. He takes his 8-iron and, swing restricted, punches a fine recovery out onto the fairway. In prime position to reach the green and make his par. He’s a little short, the ball only just reaching the putting surface, but he’ll have a long uphill birdie putt.
Haotong Li is made of the right stuff. The 22-year-old from Hunan, China proved that with his final-round 63 in the Open at Birkdale last summer, coming from nowhere to snatch third spot. And he continues to provide evidence on his Masters debut. Yesterday he shot a wonderful three-under 69, a score built on a run of three birdies around Amen Corner. Today he’s already got his score-grinding abilities on display: after flaying a dreadful drive down 1, over the trees on the left, he sent a high second into the heart of the green, and two-putted to escape with a sensational par. He walked off the green with a huge smile across his face: he’s enjoying himself on his first visit to Augusta. He’ll need to scrap some more on 2, mind you: he’s just pulled his drive into thick oomska down the left again. But for now, he stays at -3, just three off Spieth’s lead.
“Please no bedlam at the golf.” Eamonn Maloney with a cry from the heart there. “I’m having enough trouble keeping up with the mayhem at the chess and the downright pandemonium at the croquet. Feelgood veteran story this year? Couples looking OK.” Yes, well, Freddie Couples looking good at the Masters is the feelgood veteran story pretty much every year, it feels like. Since turning 50, he’s got one top-ten finish, three top-15s and two top-20s to his name. Throw in ties for third and sixth when in his forties. How on earth did he only win one Masters? Anyway, Boom Boom bangs one down the opening hole, then gently sends his second to ten feet. A great birdie chance. But he lets his putt slide off to the right and has to make do with par. He stays at level par after yesterday’s 72. Not half bad for a 58-year-old battling with a bad back.
The first-round leader Jordan Spieth may be happy to see Cameron Smith high up the rankings. The 24-year-old Aussie finished tied for fourth in the 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay, a tournament Spieth won, and everyone’s a sucker for a good omen. Smith posted a calm and considered 71 yesterday, birdies at 10 and 15 offsetting an early bogey at 4. He’s on more of a rollercoaster today, though: an opening bogey followed by birdies at 2 and 3. He’s now -2 for the Tournament, in a tie for 11th spot. He’s the only one of the early starters in red figures for his round today. Mind you, there are only 15 players on the course so far.
What Augusta National gives with one hand, it takes away with the other. Last night, the young Texan amateur Doug Ghim lived the dream, holing out from the fairway on 18 for eagle. Even better, his dad was on his bag. There’s not a golfer in the world who hasn’t drifted away, picturing a perfect moment like that. Ghim will always cherish the memory. But golf being golf, some bite-back misery is always around the next corner. And on the opening hole this morning, Ghim took four to get down from the side of the green. Double bogey, and that eagle’s handed straight back to the field. Oh! Still, the 2017 US Amateur runner-up had signed for a superb level-par 72 yesterday, so he’s still in good nick at +2. But what a game of ups and downs golf is.
It’s a warm if not particularly sunny day at Augusta. The winds were changeable yesterday but not very strong; the players can expect more of the same today. So no great dramas. We can save those up for tomorrow, when rain is more likely than not, and thunderstorms could even be on the cards. Bedlam awaits. Perhaps.
Here we go, then. And what better way to start the day than with the evocative Masters theme? A piece of music relaxing enough to soothe even the most troubled mind. Oh Sergio!
Good morning, Augusta National!
How about that
Sergio Garcia Jordan Spieth, huh? Here’s how the leaders stand going into the second round ...
-4: Finau, Kuchar
-3: Stenson, Reed, Hoffman, Hadwin, Li, McIlroy, Cabrera-Bello
-2: Wiesberger, Z Johnson, Leishman, Mickelson, Fowler
-1: Singh, Kodaira, Smith, Schauffele, Oosthuizen
... and here are today’s tee times:
8.30am EDT / 1.30pm BST: Billy Horschel, Chez Reavie, Cameron Smith
8.41am / 1.41pm: Sandy Lyle, Si Woo Kim, Doug Ghim (a)
8.52am / 1.52pm: Trevor Immelman, Ian Poulter, Patrick Cantlay
9.03am / 2.03pm: Angel Cabrera, Ross Fisher, Jimmy Walker
9.14am / 2.14pm: Fred Couples, Haotong Li, Joaquin Niemann (a)
9.25am / 2.25pm: Larry Mize, Russell Henley, Shubhankar Sharma
9.36am / 2.36pm: Bernhard Langer, Tony Finau, Yuta Ikeda
9.47am / 2.47pm: Charl Schwartzel, Webb Simpson, Yuxin Lin (a)
9.58am / 2.58pm: Kevin Kisner, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele
10.09am / 3.09pm: Gary Woodland, Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton
10.31am / 3.31pm: Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar
10.42am / 3.42pm: Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm
10.53am / 3.53pm: Jordan Spieth, Alex Noren, Louis Oosthuizen
11.04am / 4.04pm: Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson, Rafael Cabrera-Bello
11.15am / 4.15pm: Austin Cook, Ted Potter Jr., Wesley Bryan
11.26am / 4.26pm: Ian Woosnam, Ryan Moore, Jhonattan Vegas
11.37am / 4.37pm: Mike Weir, Brendan Steele, Matt Parziale (a)
11.48am / 4.48pm: Jose Maria Olazabal, Kevin Chappell, Dylan Frittelli
11.59am / 4.59pm: Bryson DeChambeau, Bernd Wiesberger, Matthew Fitzpatrick
12.10pm / 5.10pm: Mark O’Meara, Brian Harman, Harry Ellis (a)
12.32pm / 5.32pm: Vijay Singh, Satoshi Kodaira, Daniel Berger
12.43pm / 5.43pm: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Pat Perez, Francesco Molinari
12.54pm / 5.54pm: Danny Willett, Kyle Stanley, Jason Dufner
1.05pm / 6.05pm: Hideki Matsuyama, Patton Kizzire, Paul Casey
1.16pm / 6.16pm: Zach Johnson, Martin Kaymer, Branden Grace
1.27pm / 6.27pm: Tiger Woods, Marc Leishman, Tommy Fleetwood
1.38pm / 6.38pm: Sergio Garcia, Justin Thomas, Doc Redman (a)
1.49pm / 6.49pm: Bubba Watson, Henrik Stenson, Jason Day
2pm /7pm: Patrick Reed, Charley Hoffman, Adam Hadwin