Garcia takes share of Masters lead as Hoffman falters
07 Apr 2017 - 21:40
Augusta, Georgia: Sergio Garcia made a red-hot start to the US Masters second round to boost his hopes of a maiden major title while Charley Hoffman's overnight lead dwindled after a trio of bogeys.
The players were greeted by sunny skies, but chilly and windy conditions at Augusta National made for another challenging scoring day at the year's first major.
Garcia, who has never finished higher than eighth at Augusta and started the day six shots behind Hoffman, made an early surge with birdies at the first three holes before giving back a stroke at the par-three fourth.
The 37-year-old Spaniard picked up another shot at the ninth to reach the turn in two under 33, bringing him to four under for the tournament and only one shot back of Hoffman.
Hoffman, who made nine birdies in a brilliant opening round to lead a major for the first time, appeared in control as he birdied the second but he fell apart with a three-hole stretch of bogeys starting at the par-three sixth. William McGirt, who started the day alone in second place and four shots behind Hoffman, offset two bogeys with a pair of birdies before dropping another shot at the 18th to slip to two under.
Defending champion Danny Willett scored a quadruple bogey on the treacherous first hole and could be heading home after just two rounds.
Willett, who won the 2016 Masters with a bogey-free final round of 67 at Augusta National, fired his tee shot onto the lip of a fairway bunker at the deceptively simple slight dog-leg hole.
His troubles continued when he fired into the rough on his approach shot and nearly tumbled into the bunker as he lost his balance.
Before finally sinking his putt, the 29-year-old Englishman added to his woes by overshooting the green which is notoriously tough to putt and described as "really challenging" by former Masters champion Adam Scott of Australia. Willet was six shots over par after 13 holes of the second round while the projected cut line stood at five-over -- which could mean Willett will be the first defending champion since Canadian Mike Weir in 2004 to miss the Masters cut. World number two Rory McIlroy, the highest-ranked player in the field after Dustin Johnson withdrew on Thursday, chipped in at the par-three sixth to get to one under for the day.
The Northern Irishman, who needs a win this week to complete the collection of golf's four major titles, had two birdies and two bogeys over his opening five holes before settling down.
Among the later starters were three-times champion Phil Mickelson, Australian Jason Day, American Jordan Spieth and Olympic champion Justin Rose.