Defending champion Jordan Spieth just managed to hold on to the lead after the second round of the Masters in Augusta. Veteran Bernhard Langer plays with world number one Jason Day in the third round.
In tough, wind-swept conditions, Spieth came under pressure from Rory McIlroy in the second round at Augusta National on Friday.
The 22-year-old Texan held on to finish four under par, just one shot ahead of McIlroy with New Zealand's Danny Lee and American Scott Piercy two off the lead. Japan's Hideki Matsuyama, Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen and American Brandt Snedeker were one shot further back. Just seven men scored rounds under par as the year's first major hit the midway mark.
Spieth, the opening day leader with a six-under 66, made two birdies in his first three holes before making double-bogey at the fifth hole. He then made birdie at the eighth, only to give the stroke back at the next hole and make the turn at even-par 36. He reached the club house with a two-over-par 74, the first time he has failed to make par at the Masters.
"It was tough. It was very tough," said Spieth. "We kept reminding ourselves that even par is a good score, even par is a good score."
"But boy, that golf course changed very much throughout the day. We were trying to adjust with the ever gusting and changing winds. That was a hard golf course," the 22-year-old Texan added.
Spieth said he was looking forward to playing with McIlroy in the final pairing of Saturday's third round: "It will be a fun round tomorrow," he said. "We enjoy playing with each other."
"I mean, there's the potential tomorrow for someone to shoot a few under and move up into the lead from outside the top 25," the tournament leader added. "There's a potential for that with what I saw on the last six holes today, the way the course was playing."
Three-time major champion McIlroy shot a round of 71, just one of a handful of players to break par in the second round. "You just have to look at the scores and you can see how tough it is today," McIlroy said after his round on Friday.
Looking forward to the rest of the tournament, McIlroy was confident: "Maybe not on this golf course, but I've been in this position before in big tournaments and been able to get the job done," McIlroy said after his second round. "So that's the way I need to approach it."
Amateur and Veterans
US amateur Bryson DeChambeau played in the same group as Spieth on Friday. The 22-year-old arrived at the 18th tee only one shot behind the defending champion but a triple-bogey seven dropped DeChambeau four shots from the lead.
Veteran Tom Watson played his last round in a major, saying goodbye to the championship. The two-time Masters champion shot a 6-over 78 and so failed to become, at 66, the oldest player to make the cut in tournament history. Watson commented: "I'm a realist," he said. "If I could still play this golf course, I wouldn't be retiring."
Germany's Bernhard Langer (photo) is five shots off the lead and will play his round with world number one, Australian Jason Day, on Saturday. 2014 winner Martin Kaymer made the cut, but is five over par going into Saturday's third round.
jm/xx (Reuters, AP)