Koepka grabs clubhouse lead at storm-interrupted Masters

Chicago, Apr 7 (EFE).- American Brooks Koepka took sole possession of the lead at The Masters on Friday, firing a 5-under 67 to move to 12-under par with two rounds under his belt.

Several of his main rivals, however, were unable to conclude their second rounds due to storms packing strong winds that even toppled three pine trees near a group of spectators at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia.

Koepka was in a tie for the lead at 7-under with Spain’s Jon Rahm and Norway’s Viktor Hovland when the day started.

But he broke free by manhandling the par 5s for the second straight round, carding a birdie on the second hole, an eagle on the eighth and a birdies on the 13th and the 15th.

Koepka put in a workman-like performance otherwise, making nothing but pars on the other 14 holes.

The four-time major winner, who now competes on the LIV Golf tour, a Saudi Arabia-backed start-up league and PGA Tour rival, missed the cut at last year’s Masters amid struggles with a serious knee injury.

But he appears to be back in good health and ready to dominate courses like he did in winning the US Open in 2017 and 2018 and the PGA Championship in 2018 and 2019.

Trailing him by three strokes is Rahm, the 2021 US Open champion and world No. 3, who fired back-to-back birdies on the par-5 eighth and par-4 ninth holes to move to 9-under before play was suspended.

Also near the top of the leaderboard are American amateur Sam Bennett, who is at 8-under and was able to complete his second round; and American Collin Morikawa and Hovland at 6-under.

Morikawa finished his second round, but Hovland only managed to complete 10 holes.

After good weather Friday morning, wind speeds picked up in the afternoon and forced an initial halt to play just after 2 pm and then the definitive suspension of the second round shortly after 4 pm.

Referring to the toppled trees, the tournament issued a statement saying “no injuries were reported from three trees that were blown over to the left of the 17th tee due to wind.”

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, the world No. 2, missed the cut with a score of 5-over, while 47-year-old American great Tiger Woods is at 2-over after 11 holes of the second round and is just above the projected cut line.

Scottie Scheffler, the defending champion and current world No. 1, started strong with a 4-under in Thursday’s first round but is now 11 shots behind Koepka after shooting a disappointing 3-over on Friday. EFE


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