Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau – these former major winners used the second day of the Masters to make their move up the leaderboard.
A winner at Augusta, Spieth – following his first PGA Tour victory since 2017 last week – hit a 4-under round to finish 5-under, while his friend Thomas hit a 5-under round to finish 4-under.
And after looking completely out of sorts on Thursday, 2020 US Open winner DeChambeau had a 5-under round of 67 to finish 1-under and make the cut.
However, despite all their hard work, they remain a few shots off the brilliant Justin Rose after the first two rounds.
Rose, after a tough front nine which included four bogeys, battled back to recover an even round and retain his lead atop the standing.
The Englishman had a brilliant Thursday while others struggled, and stressed the magnitude of playing at the Masters can bring added pressure while playing on the storied course.
“I think it was just a classic day at Augusta National when you’re just slightly off,” Rose told the media. “You can be a foot or two out on certain occasions and you end up struggling.
“I think maybe off the back of yesterday, it starts to feel pretty different pretty quickly. But again, I kind of told myself going up the 8th hole, you’re leading the Masters, your frame of reference is a little bit different to yesterday. Four ahead is something, but you’re still leading so like just enjoy it and keep going.
“I was able to do that. I felt like the turning point for me, a good two-putt on No. 9 just to stop the rot and just to feel like could then just walk onto the back nine and try to build something fresh and something new. Actually started to play pretty well from that point onwards.”
And Rose will be glad he recovered on the back nine with Spieth looking to be somewhere near his best.
Although he admitted afterward he wasn’t 100% as confident as when he won the Masters twice, elements of his unerring consistency have crept back in, which will have his components quaking.
“I came in thinking that (I could win the Masters),” Spieth told the media in his post-round press conference.
“I’m in position now to think that for sure, but at the halfway point, I would have been pleased with being two back, if that’s where I’m at, especially after last week. For me, I think less is more and rest is key, but certainly, I’m happy that the golf course has the opportunity to play more and more difficult over the weekend.
“I think that personally I’m looking forward to that kind of challenge, and I think that could be an advantage to me if I’m in control of the ball.”
With just two days left in the tournament, Rose will have to be at his calmest best with those big names breathing down his neck.
It wasn’t so plain sailing for some of the other big names in the draw.
Defending champion Dustin Johnson, who set a record score of 20-under to win last year’s tournament, carded a second-round 75 to close on 5-over and miss the cut.
Three bogeys on the last four holes cost Johnson, who was bidding to become the fourth player to win back-to-back Masters titles.
He was joined in an early exit by Rory McIlroy, who missed the cut at Augusta for the first time since 2010, as well as major winners Sergio Garcia, Brooks Koepka and Jason Day.