McGirt making move at Augusta, top players eye leader Hoffman

He has plenty of company.

Three-times Masters champion Phil Mickelson was among a large group of players on one under par along with English trio Justin Rose, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Andy Sullivan, and Spain's Sergio Garcia.

And the fun is just starting.

The 40-year-old Californian vowed to stay on the attack through the weekend even if the course conditions become more difficult, as expected, with harder greens.

Not having Johnson around didn't make the Masters any easier. "It hurts. I was doing everything I could to try and play". "We're in a good spot. Hopefully, I can go ahead and keep it up on the big leaderboards". "We're going to see a lot of good golf and battle it out". There are a lot of holes yet to be played.

Johnson has appeared in 13 consecutive Masters.

Pieters made an eagle on the par-5 13th on his way to a 68.

Hoffman didn't have reason to believe he would be one of them. Hoffman lost his four-shot lead in 11 holes before he steadied himself the rest of the way and limited the damage to a 75.

The leaders were at 4-under 140.

"It's one of those things where I nearly wanted to sign my card and go back to the first tee today", McGirt said. He was in the final twosome with Jordan Spieth in the third round in 2015, but was five shots behind Spieth. Now he's got a share of the lead at 4 under heading into the weekend after posting a 67 on Friday afternoon. But as quickly as Hoffman built the advantage with four straight back-nine birdies on Thursday, he saw it disappear with five bogeys over a six-hole stretch in round two. His lead was gone when he sprayed another tee shot into the trees at No. 11.

It was 10 shots better than the average score Thursday at Augusta National.

"We're in a positon now where we", Spieth said, "I think, can go out there and win this thing". "That would be the best thing that could happen to me and I'm going to do my best to make sure I'm here to tell you how it feels". "It feels like the kind of course you need to get to know".

It's the sort of save Ballesteros made his trademark, but Garcia won't ponder heavenly help or a Seve Sunday connection yet.

Do the "golf gods" give the 37-year-old a mulligan?

"I wasn't too disappointed", Westwood said of shooting 3-over par the first nine holes.

The result? Don't count Spieth out during the final 36 holes at the Masters.

"I spent time with him before the Ryder Cup, but that's probably the most I've been around him".

"After making that birdie it calmed me down", he said.

In three starts at the Masters, Spieth has finished second, first and second, with that demoralizing quadruple-bogey in the final round previous year. Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., shot 80 and ended at 15 over.

Australia's Adam Scott, the 2013 Masters champion, fired four birdies on a bogey-free front nine to reach one-under, while American Ryan Moore fired a 69 to reach the clubhouse on 143.

He made only one bogey, had a few tough par saves and a few birdies and shot 69.

"It hurt coming in yesterday, but if I look back and when you do the interviews everybody said 72 is a very good score", he said.

  • Julie Sanders