Jordan Spieth stumbles early as Matt Kuchar grabs share of Masters lead

Patrick Reed stormed his way to the top of the Masters Leaderboard on day two of the Augusta event after carding a stunning nine birdies during his second round.

"I was pretty confident", he smiled. And he was headed for a 41 on the front nine until he made a 10-foot par putt.

Rory McIlroy took one more significant step towards a charge for the Green Jacket with a solid round of one-under 71 on Friday at the 82 Masters. Just five holes into his round, McIlroy realized he would need to temper his aggressive game plan.

"Let's see if we can get 18 holes tomorrow (Saturday)". "In these conditions, pars are OK".

"It's not always the birdies that stick out in your mind", McIlroy said, calling those shots the highlights of his round.

Meanwhile, Tiger Woods was back at Augusta National for the first time in three years, finally ready to challenge for a fifth green jacket after spinal fusion surgery last year.

Most aggravating was playing the par 5s without a birdie. In fact, in making his 19th consecutive Masters cut as a pro, Woods posted his second-highest 36-hole total at the Masters, going 73-75 for a four-over-par 148.

Leishman kept it close. The Australian witnessed what it takes to win here in 2013 when he played alongside champion Adam Scott.

"I'm so far back I'm going to need a lot of help".

He said he didn't hit his irons very good at all, adding that he "didn't control distances, shapes or anything".

But unlike the old days, when Woods came to Augusta National - or any tournament - expecting to win, he paused to offer the perspective that has been missing for much of his career.

Leishman did just that on Friday, hooding a 4-iron from 210 yards that just cleared the pond at 15.

And, following the pattern of the first day, it was Marc Leishman who stepped from the Woods group into the light, firing three straight birdies to annex the lead at five under par, the ideal insurance to cover any damages that might lay ahead.

So Spieth remained calm despite losing a two-shot lead on the first two holes. Reed's race to the top of the Masters leader board, however, is steeped in his par-5 play. He sits at 4 under heading into the weekend.

Woods struggled with distance control Friday in hard conditions and lamented a number of close misses on greens. He wasn't complaining. After all he's been through - the surgeries, the personal troubles, the lingering doubts that he'd ever be able to compete again for major championships - just being out on the course, once again at the center of the golf universe, made him feel like a victor. "It's a place that I'm thankfully quite familiar with and know how to deal with".

"But it's incredible to have the opportunity again, to still come out here and play this golf course". I'll be glued to the TV all weekend, I can promise you that.

WHY 135 ISN'T SO GREAT Through two rounds Patrick Reed is the only player in the field with a pair of rounds in the 60s, going 69-66 for a stellar 135 total and the 36-hole lead.

But do not count out a longer shot, because it could be a wild weekend with rain and stronger winds in Saturday's forecast.

  • Joanne Flowers