Rickie Fowler tied for top spot at Masters

Rickie Fowler tied for top spot at Masters

He has plenty of company.

And the fun is just starting.

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 easier, as survival gives way to what could be a shootout among some of golf's biggest stars. Fred Couples did what he usually does and fade on either Saturday or Sunday to fall out of it. Rory McIlory shot one over to be at even par. We don't know what the lead will be, but I've moved up the leaderboard. "So he's going to have to play nice tomorrow and we'll get that Sunday pairing".

"It would be special", Fowler said. They sit on four under going into the final two days. An excellent chip from there led to a birdie for Garcia. The list is filled with the names of players who look at the same leaderboard and see their arms slipping into a green jacket. That group included former Masters champions Adam Scott (69) and Charl Schwartzel (68).

Pieters made an eagle on the par-5 13th on his way to a 68.

Hoffman acknowledged he was simply trying to make pars in the tricky conditions - gusts approached 40 miles per hour, 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 those were just the co-leaders in the largest 36-hole logjam at the Masters in 44 years.

The leaders were at 4-under 140.

On a day when wintry playing conditions and a swirling, testing wind made Augusta National an even tougher test than usual, McIlroy set himself up for the big test to come today with a 73 for one-over-par 145.

Mickelson will be paired with Spieth for Saturday's third round.

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.

Pieters won the NCAA individual golf title at IL in 2012 and the Big Ten Conference individual title a year later.

He went 29 straight holes without a bogey until a three-putt from below the ridge on the par-3 16th.

He rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt at the 17th, then a 10-footer at the last, to join Hoffman in the lead. He played 1 under the rest of the way, though he still was 10 shots worse than his score on Thursday. He said "I'm not good enough. That would be the best thing that could happen to me and I'm going to do my best to make sure I'm here to tell you how it feels".

Garcia only really got out of position on the scoreboard. My fairways hit is 55 percent.

Marc Leishman had a solid front nine, but shot 6-over on the back nine, including a triple-bogey on the 15th, for a round of 78 to put him 9-over for the tournament.

To his credit, he steadied himself over his final seven holes of the day, registering six pars and a birdie to eventually sign for a 75 after a gruelling afternoon in Georgia.

The 37-year-old Spaniard finished off his round by clenching his fist when a 7-foot par putt dropped into the cup for a 70. "It was a reward for staying patient on the front nine", said Rose.

Garcia has been taking a methodical journey to what he hopes is his first-ever major championship.

On No. 13, Garcia thought he put his second shot in the water that guards the green.

"I'm glad to get that scoring average down a little", he said.

William McGirt can't seem to match his excellent first round.

At the Masters, Spieth has recent memories of both.

And right there with them was Mickelson, who can become the oldest Masters champion.

Rose did all of his work on the back nine, birdieing five of the last seven holes for an inward 31 and a 5-under 67, the best round of the day.

"I had some chances on the back nine that I could have converted", he said.

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