A day after Charley Hoffman cruised through the win at the Masters, the wind fought back against Hoffman.
And that tightened the leaderboard to set up a shootout this weekend at Augusta National Golf Club.
Hoffman, who had a 7-under-par 65 on Thursday in the first round, stumbled to a 75 on Friday. Still, he is tied for the lead at 4 under, along with Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia and Thomas Pieters. William McGirt is two shots back at 2 under, while Justin Rose, Ryan Moore, Jon Rahm and Fred Couples are at 1 under. Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth are at even, and they have won five green jackets between them.
Hoffman had nine birdies Thursday but only two Friday (with five bogeys, including three straight on the front nine).
“Obviously, a lot more difficult (Friday). I just wasn’t quite in position like I was (Thursday),” said Hoffman, who birdied the second hole to get to 8 under. “Got off to a great start. Had a good chance on 4 to get to 9 under and just didn’t capitalize, and I made a few bogeys on 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, and it’s a tough stretch of holes.
“I got out of position. Didn’t capitalize. Didn’t make the putts. Just wasn’t in position to attack this golf course, which in turn, as everybody knows, you can make bogeys pretty quick.”
Fowler had the round of the day Friday with a 5-under 67 after a 73 on Thursday, and Friday’s round marked the first time in Fowler’s Masters career he has had the lead at the end of a round.
Fowler had four birdies, an eagle and only one bogey. The eagle on No. 2 and a birdie on No. 3 kick-started his round.
“It was big,” Fowler said of his strong start. “Made a great par putt at 1 after I put myself in a tough position; 1 is definitely one of the hardest starting holes we have throughout the year. To make the 4 there and hole a bunker shot on 2, then make the putt on 3 for birdie, after hitting a drive to the right in the pine straw, really kind of gave me a bit of cushion and momentum in the right direction. Because, 4, 5, 6, 7 are tough holes. And so playing the first three holes well definitely gave me a little bit of that cushion and freed me up.”
Garcia started strong with a birdie on the first hole and added birdies on the second and third holes for an early surge. He had six birdies and three bogeys for a 69.
“After making that birdie, obviously it calmed me down. It gave me a lot of confidence knowing that I probably stole one there,” Garcia said of the first hole. “And then hit two really good shots on the next, almost made eagle. Hit a couple good shots on the next and rolled a nice putt probably from about 18 feet or so.
“And unfortunately bogeyed 4, but I knew that at some point bogeys were going to come. They didn’t come (Thursday), which was great. But the way the course was playing these first two days, it was very easy to make bogeys. But fortunate enough for me, I made a good amount of birdies (Friday), so I counteracted that. So I was very happy with that.”
Pieters, who is making his Masters debut, had a 72 on Thursday, but he had a strong round with a 68. After stumbling to a 40 on the back nine Thursday, he finished strong with a 33 on the back nine Friday.
“As any tournament, I just like to get within three shots on a Sunday afternoon, three or four shots,” Pieters said. “Then you really give yourself a chance. So it’s a bit bold to say that you want to come here and win, and then you don’t do it, and you look like a fool. No, if I just get in contention on Sunday afternoon, that’s all I want.”