McIlroy rues cruel ricochet that leaves him five back

Sergio Garcia pumps his fist after a birdie on the third hole during his second round at The Masters, as he started birdie-birdie-birdie. A year ago, Ernie Els took six putts from 2 feet in making a 9.

This is the fifth and final year of Els' exemption from winning his fourth major at the 2012 British Open.

But he's finishing strong: he and Charley Hoffman are the only players in the field to have played Nos. After Garcia moved within a stroke of the lead with a birdie on the ninth, Hoffman had another miscue to fall into the tie atop the leaderboard. On Friday, he opened with five bogeys on his first six holes and could not recover.

After another day of blustery conditions, it's crowded atop the leaderboard at the Masters. Rickie Fowler was another shot behind while Jordan Spieth, Thomas Pieters and William McGirt were tied three strokes behind Hoffman.

The score was corrected shortly after Garcia bogeyed the 13 hole. This a guy who grumbled about the fans in NY, who waggled and whined way too much for much of his career, who was once totally convinced that even the wind (no, really) was conspiring against him.

Charley Hoffman lines up a putt on the second hole during the second round.

When it comes to the Masters, Hardison is quick to admit the hills at Augusta National often prove hard to walk. The 57-year-old Couples, who won the Masters in 1992 before Jon Rahm was born, is three back at one-under. The two past Masters champions are paired together in the third round and early on picked up much of the large Saturday crowd.

The 29-year-old Australian posted a gutsy two-over-par 74 as brutal winds swept across the first round on Thursday (Friday AEST).

Ryan Moore is also among the fast starters, going 3-under par through his first 14 holes to join the group at 1 under for the tournament. 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. On Wednesday, the No. 1 golfer in the world slipped on steps at his rental home in Augusta, Ga., and wrenched his back, reports ESPN.

Hoffman birdied five of the last seven holes, including four in a row starting at the par-4 14th, in windy conditions to shoot a seven-under par 65 in Thursday's opening round.

Sergio Garcia is learning to accept life as it comes, to not get too upset when things don't go his way.

Johnson, No. 1 in the world and playing the best golf of his life, was a few minutes away from his tee time when his head overruled his heart.

Shane Lowry may have had the worst day of anybody in the tournament.

"These things happen, I just have to go out and birdie the first tomorrow and it'll all be forgotten".

Fowler began his move early by holing a bunker shot for eagle on the second hole, and even a bogey from the water behind the green on the par-5 15th green didn't ruin his day.

Lee Westwood, who has the credentials as the best player to have never won a major, ran off five straight birdies late in the afternoon and salvaged a 70.

His birdie on 17 looked as though it would leave him with a chance to go into the weekend four off the lead. With temperatures forecast to climb and the wind expected to calm, he knows he'll need to come out firing.


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