Fowler rides fast start to soar into Masters contention

Eyes will be peeled at the trio tied for 10th at even par 144, all past Masters champions: three-time victor Phil Mickelson (73), who admittedly made a mess of the finish with three bogeys in his last six holes; 2015 champion Jordan Spieth (69), who played his last six holes bogey-free, with three birdies; and 2013 champion Adam Scott (69), who joined Spieth and Couples in making a birdie at the last.

There are 15 players within five shots of the lead, 31 within seven shots. Happy with the way I finished.

Garcia has regularly challenged for major honours and has remained within touching distance of the top 10 since bursting onto the scene as a prodigious teenager backed to rival Tiger Woods for golfing dominance.

Weather experts are predicting warmth and calm for Augusta National on Saturday and Sunday. He ballooned to a 75 with five bogeys in a six-hole stretch.

For a while, it looked like Sergio Garcia's chances at winning the Masters had taken a major hit. He was tied for the lead at 4 under as he made the turn, but then bogeyed the par-4 No. 10.

The mistake was eventually rectified by tournament officials about an hour later, moving him back into tied second and two behind Hoffman.

Pieters, 25, was the breakout star at last year's Ryder Cup, and his affectless on-course demeanor belies a lively personality. The 37-year-old Garcia is among the golfers tagged with the dreaded title as the game's greatest never to win a major. "I need to hit some more greens".

First-round leader Charley Hoffman added 10 shots to his Thursday score.

American Rickie Fowler flew out of the gates early today with an eagle at the second and a birdie at the third to put himself right in contention, while 2013 victor Adam Scott made the turn four-under for his day and is one-under overall in a tie for fifth. "And I've shown myself many times after that, that I can contend and I can truly feel like I can win, not only one but more than one", Garcia said.

In start contrast to the flashy 28-year-old Fowler is 57-year-old Couples, the 1992 green jacket victor who has been a perennial challenger at the Masters since becoming eligible for the Champions Tour. A real tough day at the office and nowhere to hide.

Even more daunting were the players lined up behind them - Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson among four Masters champions, Olympic gold medalist Justin Rose, Spanish rookie sensation Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy, missing only this major for the career Grand Slam.

Rory Mcilroy (+1) - 11/1 - I don't love this number for McIlroy.

We don't yet know whether Garcia's performance here Friday - one which opened with three straight birdies - will lead to his first victory in this, his 74th major championship.

He shot a scrappy level-par 72 on Thursday and followed up with a similarly-scruffy round on Friday.

Hoffman was bound to come back to earth and he did, but not until he sailed through the first five holes, even picking up a stroke with a birdie on No. 2. On No. 18, his approach was too good.

"The shot at the last looked like a tap-in birdie and I made five". "But you know, when I started like that, and then I started hitting some really good shots and rolling in some good putts here and there, I thought that, yeah, maybe I could shoot 3 or 4 under, and that would be obviously wonderful".

The winds finally quieted Friday, allowing some of golf's biggest names to make noise on the second day at the Masters.

"I was frustrated", Garcia said Friday.

Fowler said he relished seeing his name on the leaderboard. He missed the cut by a single stroke. Perhaps that's why oddsmaker Bovada has placed him as the Masters favorite at the halfway mark at 4/1 (Garcia is 6/1).

"This weekend is going to be definitely a lot of different golf", Fowler said. More typical were bogeys (80), double-bogeys (11) and six scores that were even higher, including a quadruple-bogey 8 for defending Masters champion Danny Willett.

William McGirt (73) was two shots behind. The others were 50-year-old Steve Stricker and 58-year-old Larry Mize.

The American carded six birdies during a round punctured by a double bogey and two bogeys, and nearly holed his approach on the 18th but walked off with a tap-in birdie. "Luckily, the chipping and bunker play has been saving me".

"It would be hard for me to shoot a 68 like some of the better players".

"So, if I can put together a 67 or a 66 tomorrow, I feel like I'll be right in there for Sunday".

  • Larry Hoffman