Hoffman faltering, Garcia surging in 2nd round at Masters

And two, the Masters field, without the world's No. 1 golfer, was suddenly wide open.

Willett reckons not being the reigning champion anymore might help him get back to his best, but isn't sure the tag will ever leave him.

"My heart is in it and wants to play", he said. "I thought anything at par or better was going to be a great score and it is".

He was left so crestfallen following a third-round collapse at the 2012 Masters that he declared he would never be good enough to win a major.

Even as he tried to warm up on Thursday, he slowly shook his head because of the pain he felt when he struck the ball.

"This is an event I look forward to every year, so to have a freak accident mean I can't play, it just sucks, it really does", Johnson lamented.

Hoffman's four-stroke lead is the largest at the Masters after 18 holes since 1955, when Jack Burke led by the same margin over Julius Boros.

Hoffman didn't have reason to believe he would be one of them.

In conditions just as demanding as the opening round, Fowler holed out a bunker shot for eagle on his second hole, quickly moved into the lead pack and secured his spot in a share of the lead with a tricky birdie putt from the collar of the 16th green. He three-putted the fifth hole for bogey, both putts affected by the wind.

"I don't think I'm going to get tentative with the putter on the weekend this year", he said.

Unheralded Charley Hoffman takes a four-shot lead into Friday's Masters second round after high winds punished the world's top golfers and favourite Dustin Johnson withdrew injured. Hoffman and Westwood have been there before in the Masters, but Wofford alumnus McGirt is not a name anybody could have predicted posting one of only two sub-70 rounds of the day. Only eight other players broke par, a group that included Phil Mickelson, Olympic gold medallist Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia.

At times McIlroy needed his short game to bail him out, but time and time again he came up with an excellent shot to get him out of trouble.

"The day the hole is lengthened to, oh, 200 yards will be the day I quit playing the Masters". 10 and 11, ran off three birdies in the middle of the back nine, and closed with another good par save for a 72.

Whether he misses the cut or not, Willett will still have to hang around at Augusta to place the Green Jacket on the 2017 victor. One shot spun back into the water. In 2016, Spieth had a quadruple bogey 7 on the par-3 12th in the final round to give away his likely green jacket.

You can look at seven-under and by the end of the week that might be the victor. "But that's just Augusta, I guess". He bounced back with a birdie and stayed in the lead.

Four-time major champion McIlroy appeared to be struggling in the wind and was three-over after the front nine. You have to be aggressive and not be afraid to knock it 3 feet past. And feeling like he could do no wrong, Hoffman hammered a pitching wedge to 3 feet on the 17th for a fourth straight birdie. After falling down a small set of stairs at the Augusta house he was renting, DJ's warm-up session Thursday was a Rorschach test: a display of 300-plus-yard drives and a laconic demeanor nearly impossible to distinguish from Johnson's normal laconic demeanor. His 15-foot birdie missed by an inch.

Players were greeted by sunny skies, but chilly and windy conditions made for challenging scoring at the year's first major where defending champion Danny Willett and world number five Henrik Stenson were likely to miss the cut.

  • Larry Hoffman