When you consider Patrick Reed’s track record at The Masters, the leader after 36-holes at Augusta National is a real attention getter.
Reed took control of the 82nd Masters late Friday. Playing in the day’s final group, he followed Jordan Spieth’s Thursday lead and shot a six-under par 66 that put him atop a bunch of name contenders going into what might be a very rainy Saturday in Augusta.
With others struggling on the front nine, all Reed did was shoot 31. His back nine wasn’t as great but it didn’t need to be. He continued to dominate the par fives and that is the key to his nine-under par, 135 stroke total after two days. He’s birdied all eight of the par fives he’s played.
He’s a surprise leader considering this is only his fifth appearance. In his four previous Masters, he’s missed the cut twice (2014 and 2017) and tied for 22nd in 2015, tied for 49th in 2016.
This week has been different all around. He’s had total control of his iron game and his putting has been near-flawless. His only three-putt of the first two days came late in his second round at the tricky par three 16th.
Here’s how the contenders line up behind him:
137 (7-under; 70-67): Marc Leishman: Leishman, playing with Tiger Woods, has danced circles around the four-time Masters champion. Leishman got off to a hot start with three-straight birdies. His huge shot of the day was his second into the par five 15th. He hit a forty-yard hook that landed just far enough to keep from going back into the water. By the time the shot settled, he was a short six-feet from the cup and he holed the putt for eagle to get to seven under.
139 (5-under; 69-70): Henrik Stenson: Stennie was a steady-Eddie on the back nine with birdies at 11, 14 and 17, missing opportunities on the two par fives. “The wind was up a little bit and the greens were firming up and getting a little crusty,” Stenson observed. But that didn’t stop him from getting in a great position heading for the weekend.
140 (4-under): Rory McIlroy (69-71) and Jordan Spieth (66-74): It was a different kind of day for these two. Rory was steady but not spectacular. He made the turn one-over but birdied both the par fives coming home and put himself in great shape to make a run at capturing the career Grand Slam. Spieth got off to a miserable start Friday. He went double-bogey, bogey on the first two holes and by time he made the turn, he shot a miserable 40 on the front. Spieth called it a good “battle back” as he found seven pars and birdies on the two par fives to limit the damage to 74 and keep himself close to Reed.
141 (3-under): Dustin Johnson (73-68) and Justin Thomas (73-68): A lot of firepower in this duo. You have the world’s No. 1 and No. 2 players in striking distance going into the weekend. They are two of the five major champions within six shots of the leader.
140 (2-under): Two-time Masters champ Bubba Watson (73-69) is one of the six players in at two-under. Rickie Fowler (70-72) is there and so is Justin Rose (72-70). So is Tony Finau (68-74), Louie Oosthuizen (71-71) and Charley Hoffman (69-73).
Overall, it’s a bunched-up leaderboard behind Reed.
Can he hang on and win his first major? There’s a lot of golf to be played.