It’s shaping up to be Scottie Scheffler’s year.
The 25-year-old had not won on the PGA Tour before 2022, when he strung together three wins in two months to soar to number in the world ranking.
Now Scheffler will sleep on a five-shot lead at the Masters after Friday’s second round in Augusta.
“I feel like I’ve been very committed to my shots,” Scheffler said. “I’ve done a really good job mentally of just setting up to the shots and accepting hitting bad ones and being fully committed to hitting good ones. For me I’ve prepared for a long time to be in moments like this and to win golf tournaments. And like I said at the beginning of the week, I’ve done all the preparation I can do.”
Scheffler picked up four birdies on the back nine on his way to a five-under-par 67 that moved him to eight-under for the tournament. It put him five clear of a four-way tie for second: defending champion Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, Sungjae Im of South Korea, Shane Lowry of Ireland and Charl Schwartzel of South Africa.
Schwartzel’s 69 stood as the low round in the early wave of golfers as windy conditions led to overall higher scores than in the first round. Im, the first-round leader, and Cameron Smith of Australia, who was in second at four-under, came back to the field with rounds of two-over 74.
Smith is now tied for sixth at two-under with 2020 Masters champion Dustin Johnson, Harold Varner III and Kevin Na.
Fifty-two players at Augusta National Golf Club made the cut of four-over or better, including Tiger Woods, who dropped from one-under to one-over with a second-round 74. Woods had an inauspicious start with four bogeys in his first five holes, but birdies at eight, 10, 13 and 14 helped him make it to the weekend.
It marked Woods’ 22nd consecutive made cut at the Masters. He is playing his first official tournament since a single-car accident left him with gruesome leg injuries 14 months ago.
After two bogeys and three birdies over his first 11 holes, Scheffler’s key stretch began with a 12-foot birdie at the par-three 12th that put him alone at five-under. Despite a wayward second shot at the par-five 13th, he finished Amen Corner with an up-and-down for birdie.
After another birdie at 15, Scheffler landed his tee shot at the par-three 16th within five feet for his seventh and final birdie of the day.
Only one other player matched Scheffler’s 67: Justin Thomas, who made six birdies and just one bogey to improve on his first round score by nine shots and move to one-under, in a tie for 10th.
Lowry made the turn in one-under and lofted a high shot over a bunker at 10 for a memorable chip-in birdie. He added two more birdies at the remaining par-fives to post a four-under 68, the third-lowest round of the day.
“I didn’t enjoy it really much at all. It was so hard out there,” Lowry said. “Look, it was one of my better rounds of my career, I think. It was quite tricky out there, quite difficult, and I managed to play some good golf and hole some nice putts at the right times.”
Matsuyama did most of his damage in the first six holes, where he birdied two, three, and six, before playing the rest of his round to par for a 69. He is vying to join Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Nick Faldo as the only back-to-back Masters champions.
Varner, in his Masters debut, carded his second straight 71 with four birdies and three bogeys. Like Lowry, he also holed out a chip at the 10th green for birdie.
“I never forget, Tiger told me the greatest thing,” Varner said. “I asked him, ‘What does it take to win?’ He said, ‘You quit worrying about winning, you’ll keep it.’ It’s helped my demeanor just do what I’m good at, play golf, hit the shot that it calls for.”
After an opening-round 69, Johnson bogeyed number seven on Friday, hit a high-hanging tree branch at the eighth on his way to saving par, then couldn’t convert a sand save at the ninth and bogeyed again.
From there, Johnson parred all nine of his remaining holes, staying afloat and putting himself in good position for the weekend.
Stewart Cink, 48, carded a hole-in-one at 16 by using the natural slope of the green to roll his ball back to the pin. Both Schwartzel and Varner flirted with aces in the same manner earlier in the day.
Among the notable names to miss the cut were 2015 Masters champion Jordan Spieth (six-over), four-time major winner Brooks Koepka (six-over), Xander Schauffele (seven-over), Gary Woodland (eight-over), England’s Justin Rose (eight-over) and Bryson DeChambeau, who posted an eight-over 80 to drop to 12-over. South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen withdrew before the start of the round, citing an injury.
Collated second round scores & totals in The Masters, Augusta National GC, Augusta, Georgia, United States of America
(USA unless stated, Par 72):
136 Scottie Scheffler 69 67
141 Sung Jae Im (Kor) 67 74, Shane Lowry (Irl) 73 68, Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 72 69, Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 72 69
142 Dustin Johnson 69 73, Kevin Na 71 71, Cameron Smith (Aus) 68 74, Harold Varner III 71 71, Corey Conners (Can) 70 73, Collin Morikawa 73 70, Joaquin Niemann (Chi) 69 74, Justin Thomas 76 67, Danny Willett (Eng) 69 74, Will Zalatoris 71 72
144 Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa) 73 71, Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng) 71 73, J. J. Spaun 74 70
145 Patrick Cantlay 70 75, Kevin Kisner 75 70, Webb Simpson 71 74, Tiger Woods 71 74
146 Daniel Berger 71 75, Tony Finau 71 75, Sergio Garcia (Spa) 72 74, Talor Gooch 72 74, Tyrrell Hatton (Eng) 72 74, Harry Higgs 71 75, Si Woo Kim (Kor) 76 70, Jason Kokrak 70 76, Robert MacIntyre (Sco) 73 73, Rory McIlroy (NIrl) 73 73, Jon Rahm (Spa) 74 72, Sepp Straka (Aut) 74 72, Hudson Swafford 77 69, Bubba Watson 73 73, Lee Westwood (Eng) 72 74
147 Cameron Champ 72 75, Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 75 72, Russell Henley 73 74, Tom Hoge 73 74, Max Homa 74 73, Billy Horschel 74 73, Patrick Reed 74 73
148 Cameron Davis (Aus) 75 73, Lucas Glover 72 76, Viktor Hovland (Nor) 72 76, Mackenzie Hughes (Can) 73 75, Min-Woo Lee (Aus) 73 75, Marc Leishman (Aus) 73 75, Seamus Power (Irl) 74 74, Adam Scott (Aus) 74 74
The following players did not make the cut:
149 Sam Burns 75 74, Brian Harman 74 75, Padraig Harrington (Irl) 74 75, Zach Johnson 74 75, Takumi Kanaya (Jpn) 75 74, Kyoung-Hoon Lee (Kor) 74 75
150 Lucas Herbert (Aus) 74 76, Brooks Koepka 75 75, Ryan Palmer 75 75, Jordan Spieth 74 76, Mike Weir (Can) 74 76
151 Abraham Ancer (Mex) 72 79, Stewart Cink 76 75, (a) Austin Greaser 74 77, (a) Keita Nakajima (Jpn) 72 79, Xander Schauffele 74 77
152 Bernhard Langer (Ger) 76 76, Luke List 77 75, Guido Migliozzi (Ita) 75 77, Francesco Molinari (Ita) 78 74, Justin Rose (Eng) 76 76, Erik van Rooyen (Rsa) 73 79, Gary Woodland 75 77
154 Fred Couples 75 79, Cameron Young 77 77
155 Garrick Higgo (Rsa) 72 83, (a) Aaron Jarvis (Cay) 81 74, Larry Mize 77 78, (a) James Piot 81 74
156 Bryson DeChambeau 76 80
158 Sandy Lyle (Sco) 82 76, Vijay Singh (Fij) 78 80
159 Thomas Pieters (Bel) 79 80, Matthew Wolff 81 78
160 (a) Stewart Hagestad 79 81
161 Jose Maria Olazabal (Spa) 77 84
166 (a) Laird Shepherd (Eng) 81 85