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DeChambeau just makes cut, world’s top three share lead – report and highlights

DeChambeau just makes cut, world's top three share lead - report and highlights thumbnail

-9 J Thomas (US), D Johnson (US), A Ancer (Mex), C Smith (Aus), J Rahm (Spa); -8 P Cantlay (US), S Im (Kor), H Matsuyama (Jpn), P Reed (US)Selected others: -7 T Fleetwood (Eng), D Willett (Eng), J Rose (Eng); -5 T Woods (US), P Casey (Eng), P Mickelson (US), B Koepka (US); -3 R…

-9 J Thomas (US), D Johnson (US), A Ancer (Mex), C Smith (Aus), J Rahm (Spa); -8 P Cantlay (US), S Im (Kor), H Matsuyama (Jpn), P Reed (US)
Selected others: -7 T Fleetwood (Eng), D Willett (Eng), J Rose (Eng); -5 T Woods (US), P Casey (Eng), P Mickelson (US), B Koepka (US); -3 R McIlroy (NI), B Langer (Ger); Level B DeChambeau 12* (US)
Venue: Augusta National Date: 12-15 November
Coverage: Radio and text commentary online with in-play clips. Daily highlights on BBC Two – full details here

Bryson DeChambeau has squeezed inside the cut line, while the top three players in the world are in a five-way tie for the Masters lead after an intriguing opening two rounds.

The pre-tournament favourite faced an anxious wait after a bogey at 18 left him at level par through 36 holes.

Jon Rahm returned to finish his round and moved into the lead at nine under.

World number one Dustin Johnson, number three Justin Thomas, Abraham Ancer and Cameron Smith are also nine under.

It means the top three players in the world are tied for the lead after two rounds for the first time in major history.

Half the field returned to complete their second rounds on Saturday morning at Augusta as the tournament continued to play catch-up following electrical storms on the opening day.

Rahm was among those, making a birdie on the 13th to move level at the top of the leaderboard and chipping in from off the green at 15 to save par and stay there as he carded a bogey-free six-under-par 66.

Friday’s benign conditions saw the early starters enjoy low scores, with Tommy Fleetwood and 2016 champion Danny Willett hitting 66s to get to seven under with Justin Rose (70).

Fellow Englishman Paul Casey shared the lead earlier in the week but lost ground on Saturday after finishing his second round with a double bogey at the 18th to slip to five under.

Defending champion Tiger Woods climbed to five under par, four strokes off the lead, after a birdie at 15 saw him complete his round in 71, adding to his opening 68.

Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama and 2018 champion Patrick Reed are both one off the lead as they finished at eight under par on Saturday morning.

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy shot a 66 on Friday as he climbed to three under.

Erratic DeChambeau narrowly makes cut

Despite Woods returning with the Green Jacket, much of the pre-Masters hype was around US Open champion DeChambeau and whether he could overpower Augusta.

The American opened with a two-under 70 but was one over at the close of play on Friday, as four birdies were offset by four bogeys and a triple-bogey seven at the third after he lost his ball.

Things looked to have picked up for the world number six on his return on Saturday, restarting his round with successive birdies at 13 and 14 and making another at 16 to move to two under par.

But DeChambeau then seemed to unravel as he lashed a drive into the trees at 17, overshot the green with his second and was unable to make it up and down for par.

Despite finding the fairway, another bogey followed at 18 as he again flew the green with his approach, eventually signing for a two-over-par 74.

That left DeChambeau at level par and, with 50 players plus ties making it into the final two rounds, right on the cut line as he waited for the rest of the field to finish.

It remained that way as the final players closed out their second rounds, giving the American a short turnaround before heading out for his third round.

Before the tournament, DeChambeau made the bold claim that he thought the par-72 course was a par 67 for him, because of the prodigious distance he hits the ball.

That led three-times Masters runner-up Greg Norman to say on BBC Radio Five Live Sports Extra commentary: “I think Bryson’s kiss of death was when he said Augusta is a par 67 for him.

“When you go out there and say that verbally, the golfing gods hear that in the pine trees at Augusta.”

DJ sets Friday pace at Augusta

Johnson missed two tournaments in the build-up to Augusta after testing positive for Covid-19, but returned to post a second-place finish in Houston last week.

The 36-year-old is searching for his first Green Jacket and has carried his form into the Masters, finishing off his opening 65 on Friday morning before carding 70 later in the day.

He had threatened to pull away as he led by three on 10 under after four holes but successive bogeys stalled his progress.

However, the American finished with a birdie at 18 to regain a share of top spot.

The 44 players who did not complete the first round on Thursday, because of delays caused by an electrical storm, faced a quick turnaround before starting their second.

Momentum was with Johnson, who had joined Casey as the first-round leader, as he rolled in three successive birdies through Amen Corner, only to bogey the 14th and drop another stroke after finding the water on the par-five 15th.

“I felt like I played really well, hit a lot of good shots and had a lot of looks at birdies, but couldn’t quite get it in the hole,” said Johnson, whose only major victory to date is the 2016 US Open.

Several challengers to Johnson’s early lead came and went before Mexican Ancer and Australian Smith made their moves.

Thomas was one of those to share top spot earlier in the day after hitting the turn with four successive birdies.

The world number three dropped away with a double bogey at the first after dragging a drive into the pines and then hitting a tree trunk, but produced a strong recovery.

Ancer’s best finish at a major is tied for 16th at last year’s US PGA Championship, but he posted six birdies after an opening bogey to lead on his first Masters appearance.

Smith, who finished joint fifth at Augusta in 2018, produced a rollercoaster round of 68 that included six birdies, an eagle and four bogeys.

English trio in contention

Willett produced the finest moment of his career when he won the Masters four years ago, his sole major, but has failed to make the cut in the three tournaments since.

The 33-year-old will be in the mix this weekend, however, after shooting Friday’s joint-lowest round of 66 that seemed out of reach when he began with a double bogey at the 10th.

“It’s still surreal, still an amazing place to come to. An incredibly special place,” said Willett, who responded with an eagle at 13 and six birdies to move within two shots of the lead.

Compatriot Fleetwood is still searching for his first major title and also got off to a bad start when he bogeyed the first, but he recovered with three successive birdies and seven in total to join Willett on seven under par.

Rose, looking to go one better than his runner-up finishes in 2015 and 2017, completed his opening round with a scrambling 67 and added to it with a 70 later in the day that featured five birdies and three bogeys.

“I felt like I played good enough to win the tournament – I know I can win, I just don’t have an arm in a jacket yet,” said the 40-year-old.

“I have played in that final group a couple of times and really enjoyed it.”

Casey had one bogey and 10 pars in the 11 holes he managed to complete on Friday and sunk a birdie putt on 13 on his return.

But he found the trees on the left off the 18th tee and was unable to escape with his second shot, eventually carding a double bogey to drop to five under.

McIlroy given a pep talk

Co-leader Johnson was in a group with McIlroy, who endured a torrid final nine as he completed his first round, but recovered with an impressive bogey-free 66 that included six birdies.

McIlroy’s opening 75 was his worst in 12 Masters appearances and the world number five revealed he was giving a talking to by friend and Augusta National member Jimmy Dunne between rounds.

“Jimmy gave me a pep talk in between rounds going on to the range,” he said. “I honestly have been playing so good coming in here, and then I go into the first round and I shoot 75, and I’m like, ‘where did that come from?’

“I knew it was in there, it was just a matter of trusting a little more and being committed.

“Hopefully I’ve got my eye in the last 18 holes and I need a couple of days pretty similar over the weekend to give myself a chance.”

South Korean prospect Sungjae Im also briefly shared the lead with Johnson, and heads into the weekend at eight under.

At 63, two-time champion Bernhard Langer will become the oldest player to make the cut at a Masters at three under.

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