Fowler joins 4-way tie at the top in Masters

Fowler joins 4-way tie at the top in Masters

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Rickie Fowler finally got to the top of the leaderboard in a major and didn’t have much of a view.

Right next to him was Charley Hoffman, playing in the final group going into the weekend at the Masters for the second time in three years. Sergio Garcia knew the score when no one else did and had his first share of the lead in his 19th time playing Augusta National. Not to be overlooked was Thomas Pieters of Belgium, a real threat to become the first Masters rookie since 1979 to leave with a green jacket.

And those were just the co-leaders in the largest 36-hole logjam at the Masters in 44 years.

Even more daunting were the players lined up behind them — Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson among four Masters champions, Olympic gold medallist Justin Rose, Spanish rookie sensation Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy, missing only this major for the career Grand Slam.

“It’s going to be a fun weekend,” Fowler said after a 5-under 67, the best score of another wind-swept day. “We’re going to see a lot of good golf and battle it out.”

Two days of survival gives way to a shootout among some of golf’s biggest stars.

In conditions just as demanding as the opening round, Fowler holed out a bunker shot for eagle on his second hole, quickly moved into the lead pack and secured his spot in a share of the lead with a tricky birdie putt from the collar of the 16th green.

Garcia, playing his 70th consecutive major and still looking for that first victory to define an otherwise strong career, wasn’t the least bit bothered by seeing the wrong score for him on a leaderboard behind the 13th green when a penalty for a lost ball was mistakenly attributed to him. He bounced back from a bogey behind the 13th green by firing a 3-iron across the water and into the wind to the 15th green for a two-putt birdie. He shot a 69.

Pieters moved to the top by hitting off the pine straw and over a tributary of Rae’s Creek to 12 feet for eagle on No. 13, and he followed with a wedge to 4 feet for birdie on the 14th to shoot 68. Hoffman lost his four-shot lead in 11 holes before he steadied himself the rest of the way and limited the damage to a 75.

The leaders were at 4-under 140.

Hoffman will be in the final group going into the weekend at the Masters for the second time in three years, with one big difference. Two years ago, Hoffman was five shots behind Spieth in what turned out to be a runaway for the young Texan.

This time, the Masters appears to be up for grabs.

The wind began to subside as the pines cast long shadows across the course late in the afternoon, and the forecast is close to perfection for the rest of the weekend, with mild temperatures and hardly any wind.

That won’t make it any less exhausting, not with 15 players separated by only five shots.

The last time there was a four-way tie for the lead at the halfway point of the Masters was in 1973, when Bob Dickson, Gay Brewer, J.C. Snead and Tommy Aaron were tied at 3-under 141. Aaron went on to claim his only green jacket.

Hoffman had a chance to keep his distance until he ran off five bogeys in a six-hole stretch, including a three-putt from 4 feet at the par-5 eighth.

“Everybody was talking about how great that round was yesterday, but it was pretty easy to me — making putts, hitting good, solid golf shots,” Hoffman said. “Today I think I sort of felt how hard it was for everybody else in this wind when you got out of position.”

Garcia only really got out of position on the scoreboard.

His tee shot on No. 10 clipped a tree and shot back into the fairway, while Shane Lowry also hit a tree and couldn’t find it. Both were wearing dark sweaters during the search, and the scorers were confused with who lost the ball. Garcia made bogey, dropping him to 3 under. A few holes later, however, it was changed to 1 under on the scoreboard, and Garcia pointed to the board behind the 13th green.

It eventually was fixed, though that was of no concern to the 37-year-old Spaniard.

“The most important thing is I knew where I stood,” Garcia said.

And he knows the score that everyone talks about — 70 majors as a pro without a victory, and enough close calls to make him wonder if he’ll ever get it done.

Adam Hadwin is the only Canadian to make the cut. The Abbotsford, B.C., product shots a 2-over 74 and is 5 over. Mike Weir, the 2003 champion from Brights Grove, Ont., shot a 79 and finished 11 over. Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., shot 80 and ended at 15 over.

Spieth, undone by a quadruple bogey in the opening round, started slowly and finished strong with birdies on the 16th and 18th for a 69. Adam Scott, the 2013 Masters champion, also had a 69 and joined Spieth at 144.

“We’re in a position now where we can go out there and win this thing and certainly make a run,” Spieth said. “So that right there just kind of gives me chills, because after yesterday I was really disappointed in being 10 shots off the lead.”

And right there with them was Mickelson, who can become the oldest Masters champion. The 46-year-old Mickelson was one shot behind until he sputtered down the stretch with three bogeys and two par saves over his last five holes for a 73.

“If I can have a good putting weekend, I’m going to have a good chance,” he said.

Him and everyone else.

Doug Ferguson, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Former Green candidate Veronica Greer running for seat on Esquimalt council

2017 B.C. election hopeful looks to bring LGBTQ lens to municipal politics

Green Team tackles weeds in North Saanich

Greater Victoria group working to connect people with local green groups

Sooke to host Western Canada’s first all-female boxing card

58 fighters from across North America to be featured at April 28 and 29 event

Annual cruise honours West Shore RCMP Const. Sarah Beckett

Sarah Beckett Memorial Cruise takes place Sunday, April 22

First Nation acknowledgement added to Sooke council agendas

‘It seems like something long overdue,’ says mayor

New play examines Indigenous identity

Belfry Theatres Salt Baby coming to Victoria April 17 - May 13

Builder of Kinder Morgan reinforces concerns over project

B.C. heads to court over pipeline jurisdiction as builder says doubt warranted

Spring Home Show this weekend in Colwood

West Shore Parks and Recreation will be transformed to showcase everything home related

Health committee cheers idea of national pharmacare program, but cost an issue

Conservative health critic Marilyn Gladu says she fears costs could be far higher than $19 billion

Canada’s oldest blood donor says it’s all gain, no pain after decades of giving

Great-grandmother and Coquitlam, B.C., resident has been donating blood since the late 1940s

Union says Trump bullying threatens hundreds of B.C. pulp mill jobs

Fear mounts that new U.S. anti-dumping duties could price Catalyst mills out of business

B.C. real estate regulator to undergo NDP review

B.C. real estate agents were self-regulated until 2016, when BC Liberals appointed superintendent

B.C. pizza shop broken into 4 times in 2 weeks

A Vernon business owner is beginning to feel targeted

Man accused of Abbotsford school stabbing hearing voices, intensely paranoid

Lawyer says Gabriel Klein not fit to stand trial in May because of deteriorating mental state

Most Read