Augusta, Georgia, Nov 13 (efe-epa).- More than a score of players – including many big names – are within six shots of the lead at the conclusion of Friday’s play at The Masters, while defending champion Tiger Woods is five shots back and was one of numerous golfers unable to complete their second rounds due to darkness.
At the top of the leaderboard at the Augusta National Golf Club are a group of four players at 9-under par who all have finished 36 holes: Mexico’s Abraham Ancer, Americans Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas and Australia’s Cameron Smith.
Johnson, the world No. 1, was co-leader at the end of the first round after shooting a 7-under 65 thanks to four birdies at the conclusion of that round early Friday morning.
He then momentarily looked as though he might run away with the tournament when, after starting on the back nine, he moved to 10-under with birdies on the 11th, 12th and 13th holes.
But he took a step back with bogeys on the par-4 14th and the par-5 15th and then made 11 straight pars before concluding his round with a birdie on the par-4 ninth hole to shoot a 2-under 70.
“Obviously I feel like I played a little bit better than my position right now, but you know, I’m still happy with the way I’m swinging it, how I’m controlling the golf ball and everything I’m doing,” last year’s runner-up said after Friday’s second round. “You know, rolling the putter good. Just hopefully can see a few more go in over the weekend.”
Among the world’s 10 highest-ranked players, two of them are among the four leaders (Johnson and the third-ranked Thomas) and five others are within six shots of the lead. American world No. 12 Brooks Koepka, a four-time major champion; and Woods, who has struggled this year and seen his ranking fall to No. 33, are at 5-under and 4-under, respectively.
American world No. 10 Patrick Cantlay is just one shot back at 8-under after shooting a 6-under on Friday, while Spanish world No. 2 Jon Rahm is at eight-under and still has six more holes to play in his second round on Saturday morning.
Two of them – the par-5 13th and 15th holes – are excellent birdie opportunities.
The 44-year-old Woods, who thrilled the sports world at last year’s Masters by capturing his 15th major championship and his first title of that magnitude in 11 years, got off to a strong start with a 4-under on Thursday.
But he was up and down on Friday, canceling out his birdies on the par-5 second and eighth holes by making bogeys on the par-4 third and seventh holes.
Like Rahm, he will seek to capitalize on his opportunities at holes No. 13 and No. 15 when he completes his second round early Saturday. EFE-EPA