AUGUSTA — Surging Sergio Garcia is looking to end his distinction as one of the game’s best without a major title.
Garcia had four birdies on his first nine holes Friday at the Masters to wipe out Charley Hoffman’s historic four-shot lead. Of course, Hoffman helped with a run of five bogeys over six holes at Augusta National to turn his early runaway into a Friday free-for-all.
They are tied at 3-under par in the second round.
Hoffman had a 7-under 65 to dominate a wind-swept opening round. His four-shot lead over McGirt was the largest at Augusta National after the opening round in 62 years. However, Hoffman could not maintain the margin with bogeys on the sixth, seventh and eighth holes. After Garcia moved within a stroke of the lead with a birdie on the ninth, Hoffman had another miscue to fall into the tie atop the leaderboard.
McGirt was one of the earliest starters Friday and, with a 1-over 73, is just one shot off the lead.
After a wind gusts of nearly 40 mph in the opening round, Friday’s conditions were sunny and much milder — opening the way for several capable challengers looking to fill the void left by the withdrawal of Dustin Johnson, the world’s No. 1 player and a heavy favorite at the season’s first major.
Hoffman acknowledged he was simply trying to make pars in the tricky conditions Thursday — gusts flung hats off patrons’ heads and sent egg-salad sandwich wrappers blowing across greens and fairways — so he wouldn’t shoot himself out of the event. He did that, and then some.
Hoffman found himself in better spots than he hoped and “was able to convert those birdies and turn it into a fantastic round.”
Things didn’t go as well in round two with Hoffman making just one birdie compared to nine Thursday.
Lee Westwood, perhaps the best player without a major, began the second round in third place at 2-under. But he struggled on the front nine for a second straight day, following the 39 he shot Thursday with a 38 to fall back.
The group at 1-under when the round began included three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson, Olympic gold medalist Justin Rose and former PGA champion Jason Dufner. — AFP