Reigning champ Willett opens 2nd round with an 8

The American, twice a Masters runner-up, was five shots up on the final day previous year when he imploded after taking seven shots on the par-3 12th.

Defending Masters Tournament champion Danny Willett was standing on the No. 3 tee box Thursday and knew the situation.

"A couple of times the ball was oscillating", Russell Henley said after his first round. Despite a clear chance to finish the day under par, a three-putt at the final hole meant he finished with a 73 (1+).

Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus were due to act as honorary starters at 7.40am, with Masters officials opting not to bring in a replacement for the late Arnold Palmer, who performed the role from 2007-2016 before his death last September.

It was not a good opening round for most of the five amateurs competing in the tournament, but that was not the case for 25-year-old Stewart Hagestad, the 25-year-old Mid-Amateur champion who posted a respectable two-over 74 in his first competitive Masters round.

Players attempting to skim the ball across the water at the 16th hole during their practice rounds has become something of a tradition at the Masters.

But Pieters was at it again in the second round, with an eagle on the par-5 13th and a birdie on the 14th to catch Hoffman and Garcia, who were both in the clubhouse at 4-under par. Fellow American Jason Dufner was one shot back on 70 with one hole remaining.

" Obviously going to sleep on the lead at a major championship here at Augusta National is not going to be the easiest thing". Hoffman came into the day with the biggest lead after the opening round in 62 years. Willett tried to balance his feet on the edge, and he didn't quite pull it off. His first pitch wasn't hard enough and rolled back down.

"My low one's lower than everyone else's, so I can actually kill someone at head high".

Willett arrived at the year's first major under the radar given his poor play since last year's breakthrough triumph and seemed ready to fade from Masters memory after following up a double-bogey at the first with bogey at the second.

Consistency has been the key for Hatton in recent months and fine performances in his past two majors, The Open and US PGA where he finished fifth and 10th, seemingly put the young Marlow man on the brink of something special.

  • Julie Sanders