Patrick Reed seized the lead at the Masters after a nine-birdie, second-round 66 to finish 9 under par through 36 holes. The former Augusta State star holds a two-shot lead over Marc Leishman and a four-shot cushion over Henrik Stenson. Prior to this year, Reed had never broken 70 at Augusta National. Now, he has put together consecutive rounds in the 60s. Full scores
Up until a few weeks ago, Patrick Reed's strict shot shape was a right-to-left draw. While consistent, this shot shape was not conducive to today's major championship golf that requires high and soft landing iron shots. Reed would struggle to get close to certain pins because of his inability to work it left-to-right. At the Valspar, Reed debuted a helicopter finish akin to Arnold Palmer, which has allowed him to move the ball left-to-right.
This new ability to move it either way has transformed Reed's approach game. Since adding a fade to his repertoire, Reed has rattled off a t2nd at Valspar, a t7th at Arnold Palmer and a round of 16 showing at the Match Play. If Reed plays solid golf this weekend, it will require a herculean effort from all competitors besides Leishman.
Freak on a Leish
Joining Reed in Saturday's final pairing will be Marc Leishman. The Australian opened the second round with three straight birdies and earned the shot of the day for his 3 wood on the par-5 15th that set up an eagle. Leishman has contended at Augusta before, finishing t4th in the 2013 Masters and notching two other top 5s in Open Championships. His best major finish was a playoff loss at the 2015 Open Championship, a tournament held at the Old Course at St. Andrews, the inspiration for Alister MacKenzie and Bobby Jones’ design of Augusta National.
A slew of major champions
Henrik Stenson sits in third place after a 2-under-par 70. Stenson appears to have figured something out at Augusta, a venue that has given him trouble over the years. Stenson is one of the world's premier ball-strikers, and if his putter gets hot, he could add another major championship to his name.
Paired with Stenson is Rory McIlroy, who shot a consecutive under-par round to reach 4-under for the championship, five back of Reed. Rory's putting stroke looks free and effortless, and he is in prime position to surge on Saturday.
Joining Rory at 4-under is 18-hole leader Jordan Spieth, who struggled out of the gate in the second round. Spieth started the day double-bogey - bogey and went out in 4-over 40 before making his first birdie on the 13th. Spieth salvaged his round with a 2-under-par back nine to remain within striking distance of Reed.
Six shots back of Reed at 3-under are the world's top two-ranked players, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas. Johnson battled through the tough gusty morning conditions to shoot a 68 and move back into contention. The round included one of the oddest two-putts I have ever seen.
Much like Johnson, Thomas shot himself back into the mix with a second-round 67. It was Thomas' first career round in the 60s at Augusta, and he rattled off six birdies. Thomas has finished in the top five in his last three starts.
Within shouting distance
Tony Finau, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Louis Oosthuizen, Bubba Watson and Charley Hoffman will all need a flawless weekend of golf to win a Green Jacket. The group of big names sits at 2 under par, seven shots back of Patrick Reed.
Playing the weekend but not in the mix
Tiger Woods struggled to a 3-over-par 75 to make the cut in his first major championship since the 2015 PGA Championship. Woods was atrocious with his irons, struggling with both distance control and accuracy. It put Woods in bad places, but given where he was six months ago, it's great to see him on the weekend in a major championship.
Phil Mickelson's hopes to become the oldest Masters champion dissolved with his second-round 79. Mickelson still made the cut at +5 but will not be contending.
The only amateur to make the cut is Texas star Doug Ghim, who shot a second-round 76 to finish at +4. Ghim's performance earns him low-amateur honors and a chance to secure a high finish with a strong weekend.
Pace of play
The last group of the day finished in a tidy 5 hour and 45 minute pace. The combination of gusty winds and fast greens clearly have an impact on this, but it's hardly excusable.
It's expected to be a rainy Saturday at Augusta. Expect the sub-air greens to stay relatively firm but slog from the fairways. This should favor the longer-hitters who sport a high trajectory... hello Leishman, Rory and JT.
Saturday tee times.
I explained why the 11th hole should be restored back to its original width.
In case you were wondering, Patrick Reed’s jacket size is 44 regular.
A quick update on Mike Weir’s golf game.
Enjoy moving day and we will be back tomorrow with more.