AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) - A red-hot Patrick Reed stormed into a two-shot lead after the second round of the U.S. Masters on Friday, while a struggling Tiger Woods barely kept alive his hopes of a fairytale comeback from injury.
Former world number one Woods was considered one of the favourites in his bid to collect a fifth Green Jacket after showing impressive form in his return to competition this year, but was unable to make any noise for a second consecutive day.
The 14-times major champion struggled in the tough scoring conditions at a windy Augusta National, mixing three bogeys with a double-bogey and two birdies for a three-over-par 75 that put him on four-over par for the week.
“I felt like I hit it off well off the tee. I hit my irons awful today. I didn’t control my distance, my shape, spins. I left myself in bad spots,” Woods told reporters. “That kind of summed up the whole day.”
The poor round left Woods, competing in his first major since 2015, just one shot above the cut-line but a distant 13 shots back of world number 24 Reed, who is hoping to pen a comeback of his own after missing the cut last year.
Following a bogey at the first, Woods added a double-bogey at the par-four fifth, where he took a penalty drop from an unplayable lie after sending his second shot into the bushes to the left of the green.
He bogeyed the par-three 12th after sending his tee shot into Rae’s Creek and while he did well to card a pair of birdies over the next three holes, he dropped another shot at the par-three 16th.
Reed, a five-times winner on the PGA Tour still seeking his breakthrough in a major, fired the day’s lowest round, a six-under 66 that included nine birdies, to reach nine under on the week, two clear of Australian Marc Leishman (67).
“I feel like I know where I need to leave the golf ball, and most of the pins out here, and it’s now just going out here and executing the game plan and staying disciplined,” said Reed, who went to college at nearby Augusta State.
“I’ve been doing that the first two days, and it’s allowing me to kind of attack this golf course and not make a lot of mistakes.”
Leishman delivered the shot of the day when his approach at the par-five 15th stopped six feet from the hole, setting up an easy eagle.
The Australian, who made a double-bogey on the same hole in the first round, weighed other options before finally opting for the risky play of hooking it around a tree and over the water.
“To win this tournament, you’re going to have to take a chance at some point, and I felt like that was one where the reward was worth the risk,” Leishman said.
Swede Henrik Stenson (70) sits alone in third place at five under, while Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy (71) and former champion Jordan Spieth (74) are a further shot adrift.
McIlroy, who with a victory this week would become only the sixth player to win each of golf’s four majors, credited his new-found ability to remain patient for his recent form.
“I don’t have to go out there and make a birdie on every hole, especially not on this golf course, and in these conditions, pars are okay,” McIlroy said.
“Sometimes pars might be a little bit boring and you might feel as if you want to get a little bit more out of your round, but as you look up the leaderboard and you’re still there around the lead, that’s taken awhile for me to adjust to.”
Sergio Garcia, whose 81 on Thursday was the worst opening-round score by a defending champion, followed that up with a six-over-par 78 to become the 10th reigning Green Jacket owner to miss the cut.
Reporting by Frank Pingue; Editing by John O'Brien