America’s Patrick Reed added a second round 66 to his first round 69 to take a two-shot lead at the halfway stage of the Masters.
The 27 year old surged into contention to win his first Major when bagging nine birdies during his second round. He was the first player to reach ten under par when making a birdie at the 15th, but a bogey at the short 16thsaw his lead cut to just two over Australia’s Marc Leishman with 36 holes still to play at Augusta National.
On a day when blustery conditions saw the average score rise to just over 75, Reed produced a stunning display of disciplined driving and immaculate putting. In just 36 holes, he has managed 22 one-putts and is making mincemeat of the par fives, securing birdies at all four of the longest holes in both rounds.
Reed had never previously broken 70 in his four previous visits to Augusta, but he seems to have got the measure of the course so far this week. His previous best major finish was tied second at last year’s US PGA Championship.
There were only seven scores under 70 on Friday, with Reed’s six-under-par effort the best of the lot, followed by 67s from Leishman and PGA champion Justin Thomas, who played his way back into contention to lie tied sixth with Dustin Johnson on four under par. Johnson made his move by making an eagle and three birdies in his second round 68.
Former Open champion Henrik Stenson enjoys sole possession of third place following a second round 70, which contained five birdies. The Swede is now five under par, and four shots off Reed’s lead.
One player going the other way was first round leader Jordan Speith, who dropped three shots in his opening two holes on Friday en route to an untidy 74, which saw him slip back to four under par for the tournament and into a share of fourth with Rory McIlroy, whose one-under-par 71 contained four birdies and three bogeys.
Justin Rose, last year’s runner up, moved to two under par for the tournament with a second round 70, taking him into a tie for eighth alongside two-time champion Bubba Watson, who fired a three-under-par 69, and Louis Oosthuizen and Charley Hoffman.
Tiger Woods made the cut by one, with the 14-time major champion shooting a scrappy 75 to slip back to four over par for the tournament, a full 13 shots behind the leader. Those to hit the cut mark at five over included Englishmen Ian Poulter, Tyrrell Hatton, Paul Casey and Matt Fitzpatrick, while three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson made the weekend with nothing to spare after firing a second round 79 that included a triple bogey at the seventh and a double at the par-three 12th.
Those not to make the final two rounds included defending champion Sergio Garcia, who limped out of the tournament when adding a 78 to his first round 81, which included his now infamous meltdown at the 15th, when he dropped eight shots in a matter of minutes, while 2016 champion Danny Willett missed the cut by a two shots after bogeying 17 and 18.
Hampshire amateur Harry Ellis took the unwanted honour of posting the highest 36-hole total of this year’s field, adding an 80 to his first round 86 to finish his Masters debut in 87thand last place on 23 over par. “It’s when you have rounds like this that you learn the most,” Ellis said. “And I’m open to that, so it was fun.”
Ellis, who is expected to turn pro after competing in the US Open, has more reason than most to have some perspective on his golf, and life in general, after losing his mother to cancer just three weeks ago.