Patrick Reed back on form to claim halfway lead after thrilling day at Augusta
The American finished nine under par, two shots ahead of Australia’s Marc Leishman.
Patrick Reed reproduced his Ryder Cup form in stunning fashion to claim the halfway lead as the eagerly anticipated 82nd Masters more than lived up to the hype.
Reed had not broken 70 in 12 rounds at Augusta National before this week, but made light of testing conditions to add a superb 66 to his opening 69 to finish nine under par, two shots ahead of Australia’s Marc Leishman.
The leading pair are both seeking a first major title with Leishman having lost out in a play-off for the 2015 Open, but eight of the top 13 have at least one of the game’s biggest titles under their belts.
Former Open champion Henrik Stenson is four shots off the pace on five under par, with Rory McIlroy and 2015 winner Jordan Spieth another stroke back.
US PGA champion Justin Thomas matched Leishman’s 67 to finish three under par alongside the man he could replace as world number one, Dustin Johnson, with Justin Rose, Louis Oosthuizen and Bubba Watson all two under.
The biggest name missing from the top of the leaderboard was 14-time major winner Tiger Woods, who only made the cut with a shot to spare after a disappointing 75.
McIlroy, who needs to win a green jacket to become just the sixth player to complete the career grand slam, added a 71 to his opening 69 but was somewhat disappointed to miss good birdie chances on the last two holes.
All four of McIlroy’s major wins to date have been achieved after being in the top five after the first round, a statistic the 28-year-old was not aware of.
“I think once you get yourself up there, you’re playing well enough after day one that if you continue that good play, you should be up there for the rest of the tournament,” said McIlroy, who was tied for fourth on Thursday.
“I’ve always felt comfortable being up around the lead. It’s a place that I’m thankfully quite familiar with and know how to deal with. I feel relaxed. I’m constantly having a conversation with myself about staying in the present and just one shot at a time and all the cliche stuff that you hear about. But it’s true.”
Spieth recovered from a nightmare start to card a 74 which included failing to make a single birdie on the front nine for the first time in his career.
“The first few holes I just hit it everywhere you can’t hit it,” said Spieth, who had led or shared the lead after nine of his previous 17 rounds in the Masters.
“I got a little brain-dead to start but to still be in the tournament after two rounds, would I have taken being in this position three or four weeks ago? Absolutely.”
Woods was among the late starters and had moved three shots closer to the lead without hitting a shot, but followed a perfect drive on the first by missing the green and making bogey to drop back to two over.
And things went from bad to worse for the 14-time major winner when he fired his approach into bushes over the green on the fifth to run up a double bogey.
Phil Mickelson, seeking to become the oldest winner in Masters history at 47, was two off the lead before running up a triple bogey on the ninth after his recovery attempt ricocheted off a tree.
And despite bouncing back immediately with a birdie on the 10th, the five-time major winner dropped five shots in his last eight holes to shoot 79 and make the cut on the mark of five over par.