Rory McIlroy still playing minor role as Major league stars align in Augusta
Five Major champions share the lead with Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson one off the pace
Tiger Woods celebrates a birdie putt on the 15th hole the second round of the US Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters
Logjam. Gridlock. As one player after another with eyes on the great prize forced a way into the mix to form a congested upper end leaderboard of the 83rd edition of the Masters tournament, Rory McIlroy was one of those left behind and faced with negotiating an amount of traffic if he is to keep alive hopes of completing the career Grand Slam.
A record five players – Francesco Molinari, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka, Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen – shared the midway lead, on seven-under-par 137; and their one common bond is that one of all of the quintet have lifted a Major title.
To add spice to the mix, Tiger Woods – almost taken out by a security guard who slipped into him after the player had conjured up a miracle recovery shot from trees on the 14th, where he would go on to make a birdie – reached the midpoint just one stroke adrift.
In all, 65 players, among them four amateurs, made the cut which, because of the 10-shot rule, fell on three over par. But world number one Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia, a champion just two years ago, along with Shane Lowry, were among those to fall on the wrong side of the cut mark.
“This is really stacked,” said Scott of the leaderboard. “I think it’s going to be an incredible weekend no matter what happens now. There are so many great players in with a chance, and I think my gameplan has to be the same as where I started the week. I wanted my ball-striking to show up this week a little more than it has any other week this year. It looks like it has by the stats here.”
McIlroy’s stop-start, up-down championship continued. The Northern Irishman added a second round 71 to his opening 73 for a 36-holes total of 144 in tied-36th and with an uphill task on his hands to make up ground on such a stellar leading quintet.
“It’s just so bunched, there’s so many guys with a chance coming into the last two days. If I can get off to a decent start [in the third round], shoot 33 or 32 on the front nine, I’m right back into it,” insisted McIlroy. “I don’t feel like I am that far away. I’m sort of right there . . . to be seven back, I am pretty happy.”
The only stat that matters at the end of the day is how few strokes it takes to get the ball in the hole, and Friday’s second round – interrupted by a 28-minute stoppage due to the threat of lightning – brought drama in truckloads, including an that accidental slide by a security guard into Woods, who later commented: “Accidents happen, we move on. Other than having four knee surgeries and four back surgeries, I’m great.”
All five co-leaders have savoured Major wins, Koepka – who successfully defended the US Open last year and added the US PGA – most recently of all. Molinari is the current British Open champion, while Day is a former US PGA winner and Scott is the only one of the five to own a green jacket.
Behind them, though, Woods has again worked his way into contention and lurks with menace. A 14-time Major champion, his last triumph came in the 2008 US Open and his last Masters victory was in 2005. But he has eyes on this one.
“I feel like I played my own way back into the tournament. I was just very patient today, felt very good to be out there doing what I was doing. This is now three straight Majors that I’ve been in the mix and so it’s good stuff,” said Woods.
All to play for, for so many! Wide open, just as it was at the start.
(USA unless stated, par 72, (a) denotes amateurs)
137 Brooks Koepka 66 71, Jason Day (Aus) 70 67, Francesco Molinari (Ita) 70 67, Adam Scott (Aus) 69 68, Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 71 66
138 Dustin Johnson 68 70, Tiger Woods 70 68, Justin Harding (RSA) 69 69, Xander Schauffele 73 65
139 Jon Rahm (Esp) 69 70, Ian Poulter (Eng) 68 71
140 Phil Mickelson 67 73, Patton Kizzire 70 70, Matt Kuchar 71 69, Charles Howell III 73 67
141 Tony Finau 71 70, Justin Thomas 73 68, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha) 69 72, Gary Woodland 70 71, Bryson DeChambeau 66 75, Rickie Fowler 70 71, Corey Conners (Can) 70 71
142 Lucas Bjerregaard (Den) 70 72, Charley Hoffman 71 71, JB Holmes 70 72, Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 71 71, Thorbjorn Olesen (Den) 71 71, Kevin Kisner 69 73
143 Bernhard Langer (Ger) 71 72, (a) Viktor Hovland (Nor) 72 71, Kevin Tway 72 71, Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Esp) 73 70, Webb Simpson 72 71, Patrick Reed 73 70, Jordan Spieth 75 68
144 Kyle Stanley 72 72, (a) Alvaro Ortiz (Mex) 73 71, Bubba Watson 72 72, Si Woo Kim (Kor) 72 72, Kevin Na 71 73, Keegan Bradley 76 68, Cameron Smith (Aus) 70 74, Rory McIlroy (N Irl) 73 71, Marc Leishman (Aus) 72 72, Jimmy Walker 72 72
145 Satoshi Kodaira (Jpn) 75 70, Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 75 70, Andrew Landry 72 73, Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng) 78 67
146 Haotong Li (Chn) 72 74, Trevor Immelman (RSA) 74 72, Aaron Wise 75 71, Tyrrell Hatton (Eng) 73 73, Keith Mitchell 72 74, Patrick Cantlay 73 73, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 74 72
147 Zach Johnson 74 73, Alex Noren (Swe) 75 72, Branden Grace (RSA) 72 75, Martin Kaymer (Ger) 73 74, (a) Takumi Kanaya (Jpn) 73 74, Emiliano Grillo (Arg) 72 75, (a) Devon Bling 74 73, Billy Horschel 72 75, Eddie Pepperell (Eng) 74 73
148 Justin Rose (Eng) 75 73, Sergio Garcia (Esp) 73 75, (a) Kevin O’Connell 77 71, Mike Weir (Can) 72 76, Danny Willett (Eng) 75 73, Stewart Cink 76 72, Sandy Lyle (Sco) 73 75
149 Charl Schwartzel (RSA) 77 72, Adam Long 75 74, Brandt Snedeker 75 74, Fred Couples 78 71
150 Shugo Imahira (Jpn) 76 74
151 Shane Lowry (Irl) 78 73, Larry Mize 77 74
152 (a) Jovan Rebula (Rsa) 73 79, Matt Wallace (Eng) 75 77
154 Paul Casey (Eng) 81 73, Michael Kim 76 78
156 Vijay Singh (Fij) 80 76, Ian Woosnam (Wal) 80 76
157 Jose-Maria Olazabal (Esp) 78 79, Angel Cabrera (Arg) 82 75
THIRD-ROUND TEE TIMES
(all times Irish)
2.05pm: Eddie Pepperell (Eng)
2.15pm: Branden Grace (RSA), Emiliano Grillo (Arg)
2.25pm: Zach Johnson, (a) Takumi Kanaya (Jpn)
2.35pm: Alex Noren (Swe), Billy Horschel
2.45pm: Martin Kaymer (Ger), (a) Devon Bling
2.55pm: Henrik Stenson (Swe), Haotong Li (Chn)
3.05pm: Keith Mitchell, Aaron Wise
3.15pm :Tyrrell Hatton (Eng), Patrick Cantlay
3.25pm: Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn), Trevor Immelman (Rsa)
3.35pm: Satoshi Kodaira (Jpn), Andrew Landry
3.45pm: Cameron Smith (Aus), Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng)
4.05pm: Marc Leishman (Aus), Rory McIlroy (N Irl)
4.15pm: Si Woo Kim (Kor), Kyle Stanley
4.25pm: Keegan Bradley, Bubba Watson
4.35pm: Kevin Na, (a) Alvaro Ortiz (Mex)
4.45pm: (a) Viktor Hovland (Nor), Jimmy Walker
4.55pm: Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson
5.05pm: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Tway
5.15pm: Bernhard Langer (Ger), Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Esp)
5.25pm: Charley Hoffman, Tommy Fleetwood (Eng)
5.35pm: JB Holmes, Lucas Bjerregaard (Den)
5.45pm: Thorbjorn Olesen (Den), Kevin Kisner
6.05pm: Gary Woodland, Rickie Fowler
6.15pm: Corey Conners (Can), Tony Finau
6.25pm: Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas
6.35pm: Charles Howell III, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha)
6.45pm: Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson
6.55pm: Jon Rahm (Esp), Patton Kizzire
7.05pm: Tiger Woods, Ian Poulter (Eng)
7.15pm: Justin Harding (Rsa), Xander Schauffele
7.25pm: Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa), Dustin Johnson
7.35pm: Brooks Koepka, Adam Scott (Aus)
7.45pm: Francesco Molinari (Ita), Jason Day (Aus)