The biggest story at the 2018 Masters on Friday was Augusta National landing more than a few blows against the field, hitting pretty much everyone except Patrick Reed.
Reed teed off late and caught fire immediately with a six-birdie 31 on the first nine, and he stayed on the gas pedal coming home with three more birdies on the second nine for a 66, moving him to 9 under for the tournament and two strokes clear of the field. The average score for the field on the day was around 2 over, but Reed was seemingly unaffected by he tough playing conditions as one of just 16 golfers (of 87 in the field) under par on the day.
Marc Leishman and Justin Thomas were other players to go low late Friday and set themselves up for a run at Reed and the lead on Saturday. Even on a day where both Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson played themselves out of contention — though not so poorly that they missed the cut — the leaderboard is loaded with stars and eight former major champions in the top 14 as we head
We’ve got a breakdown of the top of the leaderboard below, followed by highlights from throughout the day in our live coverage of Round 2 at Augusta National.
1. Patrick Reed (-9): Will this be Reed’s moment? He strung together three straight birdies on three different occasions, pushing the lead into double digits under par for the first time all week. Reed finally got his first top-10 in a major at the 2017 PGA Championship, and now the five-time PGA Tour winner is looking to win his first major championship on the biggest stage in golf.
2. Marc Leishman (-7): The opening holes have been good to Leishman. He’s 5 under on the first three holes after two rounds and one of just five players in the field to shoot under par on both Thursday and Friday. He’s only played two bad holes after 36 and been better than most of the field on the tough Augusta greens with zero three-putts so far in the tournament.
3. Henrik Stenson (-4): The Masters is the only major where Stenson hasn’t recorded a top-10 finish. He got off to a good start with a 69 on his 42nd birthday yesterday and followed that up with a 70 on Friday to enter the weekend four strokes off the lead.
T4. Rory McIlroy (-4): The scary thing here is that Rory doesn’t need his best stuff to win this thing. He’s got birdies on five of the eight par-5s from the opening rounds, and even without hitting a ton of fairways, he’s been able to save pars and balance his card to remain under par and in the hunt.
T4. Jordan Spieth (-4): Two bad swings — tee shots on the first two holes — cost Spieth three strokes right out of the gate, but the takeaway from the former champ’s round is positive after turning it around and picking up two birdies on an under-par back nine.
T6. Dustin Johnson (-3): If not for Reed’s late-afternoon tear, Johnson would have finished with one of the best rounds of the day. His stellar round of 68 got started with an eagle on the par-5 2nd and included three birdies to just one bogey. Johnson was much better off the tee than he was on Thursday, and it helped set him up not only to score but to avoid bogeys on a tough day for everyone in the field.
T6. Justin Thomas (-3): Few in golf are better or more exciting on a heater than JT. Thomas fired six birdies during his second-round 67 that put him right in the thick of championship contention after going 2 over on Thursday. Less mistakes and impressive accuracy — particularly on the two front-nine par-3s — has the No. 2 player in the Official World Golf Rankings in a spot to challenge DJ for No. 1.
T8. Rickie Fowler, Tony Finau, Justin Rose, Louis Oosthuizen, Bubba Watson,Charley Hoffman (-2): Who among this group has the best chance to make a move on Saturday? Previous history suggests Watson, Fowler, Rose and Oosthuizen all have the potential to put themselves in position to contend on Sunday, but don’t rule out Finau continuing this impressive showing in his first Masters appearance after injuring his ankle on Wednesday.