World No 1 Dustin Johnson and third-ranked Justin Thomas shared the second-round clubhouse lead on Friday at the Masters with two unexpected contenders, Australian Cameron Smith and Mexico’s Abraham Ancer.
LEADERBOARD | Masters at Augusta National
As rain-softened Augusta National surrendered unprecedented success, Thomas closed with back-to-back birdies to shoot a three-under 69 and US compatriot Johnson birdied his final hole to shoot 70 and join the lead pack on nine-under-par 135.
Smith closed with an eagle and three birdies to shoot 68 while Ancer, trying to become the first debut Masters winner in 41 years, birdied two of his last four holes to fire 67.
Im Sung-jae, a 22-year-old South Korean also making his Masters debut, fired a 70 to share fifth with American Patrick Cantlay on 136.
Three Englishmen were another stroke adrift – reigning Olympic champion Justin Rose, 16th-ranked Tommy Fleetwood and 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett.
World No 2 Jon Rahm of Spain and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama were both on 8-under, Rahm 5-under on the round with six holes to play and Matsuyama 4-under on the round with three holes remaining at sunset.
Louis Oosthuizen is the leading South African contender on 7-under after 12 holes. Dylan Frittelli finished his second round on 6-under.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout signed for a second round 1-over, 73 for a 36-hole total of 2-under par.
Charl Schwartzel sits at 1-over after 10 holes of his second round and will have a chance at making the cut for the weekend.
However, Justin Harding’s 2-over par score of 146 won’t see him qualify for the final two rounds, while Erik van Rooyen, the sixth South African to have started the tournament, was forced to withdraw after a first-round 76 due to an unspecified injury.
In all, 48 golfers must finish Round 2 on Saturday morning.
With a Thursday rain delay forcing a Friday first-round finish, golfers stung Augusta National for the lowest opening-round scoring average in Masters history, 71.43 strokes, with 53 players under par in round one and 24 scores in the 60s, both Masters round records.
HISTORY MADE BY BERNARD LANGER
Germany’s 63-year-old Bernhard Langer became the oldest player to make the cut in Masters history on 141. An expected 1-under cut line would be the lowest in Masters history.
The low cut line could also spell trouble for Bryson DeChambeau.
The big-hitting American, who had been tipped to overpower the Augusta layout, is one over par with six holes of the second round left to play.
DeChambeau could be left ruing a triple-bogey seven on the par-3 third, which was followed by three more bogeys before the turn.
Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, seeking a green jacket to complete a career Grand Slam, completed a 75 in the storm-hit first round on Friday, then rebounded with a bogey-free 66 to revive his chances.
Defending champion Tiger Woods, who matched his best-ever Masters start with a 68, was on level par for the second round after 10 holes, sharing 22nd place as he chases a 16th major title and sixth Masters victory.
Johnson reeled off three birdies in Amen Corner, Augusta’s famed 11th-13th holes, then followed with back-to-back bogeys and pars all the way until his closing birdie.
ABRAHAM ANCER HAS SEEN ENOUGH
World No 21 Ancer, who hadn’t seen Augusta National before playing 27 holes on November 4, hasn’t felt troubled on a course where experience is considered a vital asset.
Neither Ancer nor Smith has ever held a 36-hole lead on the PGA Tour.
The Masters was postponed from its usual April date by the Covid-19 pandemic, which also forced the event behind closed doors as a safety move.
On Friday morning, Johnson finished his opening-round 65, his lowest career Masters round and first without a bogey.
Thomas, the 2017 PGA Championship winner, finished a first-round 68, having never shot better than a 73 in four prior Masters opening rounds.
Partial second-round scores on Friday at the 84th Masters at par-72 Augusta National Golf Club (a-denotes amateur; USA unless noted; Darkness halted play with 48 players on course, round to resume on Saturday):
135 – Abraham Ancer (MEX) 68-67, Cameron Smith (AUS) 67-68, Justin Thomas 66-69, Dustin Johnson 65-70
136 – Patrick Cantlay 70-66, Im Sung-jae (KOR) 66-70
137 – Danny Willett (ENG) 71-66, Tommy Fleetwood (ENG) 71-66, Justin Rose (ENG) 67-70
138 – Sebastian Munoz (COL) 70-68, Dylan Frittelli (RSA) 65-73
139 – Phil Mickelson 69-70, Brooks Koepka 70-69
140 – Rickie Fowler 70-70, Billy Horschel 70-70
141 – a-John Augenstein 69-72, Bernhard Langer (GER) 68-73, Rory McIlroy (NIR) 75-66, Victor Perez (FRA) 70-71
142 – Shugo Imahira (JPN) 72-70, Adam Scott (AUS) 70-72, Christiaan Bezuidenhout (RSA) 69-73, Cameron Champ 68-74
143 – Chez Reavie 71-72, Bubba Watson 74-69
144 – Nick Taylor (CAN) 72-72, Kang Sung (KOR) 75-69, Bernd Wiesberger (AUT) 71-73, Collin Morikawa 70-74, Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG) 74-70, Zach Johnson 73-71
145 – An Byeong-hun (KOR) 72-73, Max Homa 70-75, Andrew Putnam 73-72
146 – Justin Harding (RSA) 75-71, Brendon Todd 73-73
147 – Matthew Wolff 70-77, Tyrrell Hatton (ENG) 73-74
148 – J.T. Poston 73-75, a-James Sugrue (IRL) 77-71
150 – Francesco Molinari (ITA) 72-78, Fred Couples 77-73
158 – Jose Maria Olazabal (ESP) 78-80
Erik van Rooyen (RSA) 76-WD