As Hoffman dropped a fifth bogey, the Spanish heart throb momentarily held sole lead at four-under, before he himself dropped a shot on 10th.
The 40-year-old Hoffman, whose only top-10 finish in a major was a tie for ninth in the 2015 Masters, opened with a 65 and gutted out a second-round 75 to equal Garcia's a 36-hole total of 4-under 140. This has him tied for 10th through two days with the likes of 2013 Masters victor Adam Scott and three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson.
Garcia has played magnificently over his first two rounds at Augusta National - a bogey-free performance in the face of howling winds Thursday, a 3-under 69 in conditions that were still quite challenging Friday - yet there's still a sense he has no idea what it takes to win one of golf's biggest events.
"I felt like I struck the ball better today, but it was tough", he said. "Got off to a great start". After playing well in the windy conditions during the first round, Hoffman struggled during the second and made five bogies over a stretch of six holes. And I'm really exhausted. Didn't capitalize. Didn't make the putts. Augusta is a course that can be overpowered, but it's Pieters' accuracy that has helped him thus far.
It certainly fired up Mickelson, who opened with birdies on the first and second holes to move to 2-under as those watching applauded wildly.
Leonard Shapiro of the Washington Post passed along post-round reaction from Garcia, who said the wind played a role in being unable to build off his strong start. But it cannoned back off the pin and left him scrambling to make par. "I know on the weekend I got tentative with the putter". But his front nine was choppy - he started and finished with a bogey while there was another one at 3.More news: South Carolina beats Stanford 62-53 in Final Four
Things didn't go as well in round two with Hoffman making just one birdie compared to nine on Thursday. "But I kept very calm". While the 13th is often reachable in two shots, Hoffman was 240 yards from the hole and hitting into the wind.
"That was probably, I would say, hands down, the best bunker shot I've ever hit", Garcia said.
"And unfortunately bogeyed 4, but I knew that at some point bogeys were going to come".
For them - and any great athlete, really - winning is the only thing that matters, the only thing that anyone remembers.
"I had what I thought was really good yardage, and the only problem was that I made two really bad bogeys in a row", Couples said. But fortunate enough for me, I made a good amount of birdies (Friday), so I counteracted that. "There's such a thin line between a good shot being next to the hole and a good shot being 40 feet away and then having a very hard 2-putt or something like that".
"Nothing different but I feel like it's going to play a bit easier and make a bit more birdies", he said. "No, if I just get in contention on Sunday afternoon, that's all I want".