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Sergio Garcia, of Spain, reacts to a shot on the 15th hole during the second round of the Masters golf tournament Friday, April 7, 2017, in Augusta, Ga.

That included Charley Hoffman, who held the lead after the first and second round. He's tied with three other players atop the leaderboard at 4-under-par; Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, and Thomas Pieters.

Four-time major victor McIlroy, five shots back and trying to complete a career grand slam by winning the green jacket, would have preferred to have been in a stronger situation with two rounds to play. "You just kind of pass out when you get home".

"I'm a competitor, so I like to believe in myself", Couples said. You play in wind, you play tough pin placements, really fast greens, and a great golf course.

Hoffman acknowledged he was simply trying to make pars in the tricky conditions on 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.

"And I know that if you fall behind, to stay patient and just recognise that - Rosey just shot five-under on the back nine".

Fowler ascended the leaderboard with a 5-under 67, the best round of the day. He followed that gaffe with a birdie-2 on the 16th and was at 75, certainly still with a chance to pick up more ground in the second round. He went on to make bogey.

Lee Westwood, two-under in first round had a eventful two-over front nine with four bogeys and two birdies. The momentum sucked out of him, Mickelson walked off the 9th green at three over par.

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Rahm is playing in his first Masters at age 22, Mickelson his 25th at age 46, Couples his 32nd at age 57.

"Thankfully I managed to birdie the two par fives and another one coming in and even par was a great score so I'm really happy with that". And we saw how hard it was yesterday. "This was something different that we're not used to seeing, so it's going to be back to something a little bit more normal these next two days". "Fred plays so well there because he knows he's going to make bogies, but he doesn't overreact to them". The mental scar tissue seemed to have healed, helped by a 69 for level-par overall.

William McGirt, scrambling and putting his way around the premises, is two shots behind the lead group.

SC resident William McGirt is fifth at 2-under 142, and Ryan Moore, Jon Rahm of Spain, 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose and 1992 Masters champion Fred Couples are the remaining players under par at 143. Moore had one of the nicest rounds of the day, posting a bogey-free 69.

In start contrast to the flashy 28-year-old Fowler is 57-year-old Couples, the 1992 green jacket victor who has been a perennial challenger at the Masters since becoming eligible for the Champions Tour. Fifty-three players are around for the weekend, including Aiken's Kevin Kisner.

Rory McIlroy stood five strokes off the pace.

"A one-shot lead starting the day doesn't mean much", Rose said.

Saturday had something for everyone at the Masters, including the promise of more to come. Though many players don't keep an eye on the scores throughout the round, Fowler will be watching intently.


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