AUGUSTA: Justin Rose apparently didn’t get the memo that Augusta National was a little more forgiving on Friday (Saturday in Manila) in the Masters. The consolation was still having the lead but just barely.
Rose didn’t hit one putt hard enough to get through the fringe behind the fourth green. Another putt on the sixth hole didn’t have enough pace and returned back to him some 60 feet away.
All around him, major champions and a Masters rookie scored well enough to close the gap. The contenders even included Si Woo Kim, who broke his putter in anger and used a fairway metal to putt the final four holes.
Rose was among 12 players who broke par on Thursday. He wasn’t among the 40 who broke par on Friday.
“I didn’t quite appreciate the scoring was going to be quite so good today,” he said.
Even so, his even-par 72 was good enough for a one-shot lead going into a weekend filled with a little mystery on how Augusta National will play and plenty of possibilities for who will win the green jacket.
One certainty: it won’t be Dustin Johnson, who took 64 putts in 36 holes and missed the cut by two shots.
Rose was at 7-under 137, one shot ahead of Brian Harman (69) and Will Zalatoris (68), the 24-year-old from Dallas who still doesn’t have a full Professional Golfers’ Association Tour card.
Jordan Spieth (68) and Marc Leishman (67) were two shots behind. Spieth stands out for his wizardry around Augusta National — one green jacket, two runner-up finishes and a third place in his seven appearances — and because he is coming off a victory in the Texas Open that ended a drought of nearly four years.
“Having made a triple and five over-par holes through two rounds, I feel pretty good about being at 5 under,” Spieth said after a 68.
The group three shots behind included Kim, who shot 69 without having much of a chance to make birdies with a fairway metal on the greens. After a three-putt bogey on the 14th and a chip that nearly ran off the green at the 15th, he jammed the head of the club into the turf and damaged it.
Asked if he had a backup putter, Kim replied, “No. I don’t want to answer anymore. Sorry.”
Rose was staked to a four-shot lead at the start of a warm, overcast day, and it was gone after his fourth bogey in seven holes. He didn’t drop a shot the rest of the way, picked up three birdies on the back nine and salvaged the day.
“Just a classic day at Augusta National when you’re slightly off,” Rose said. “I kind of told myself going up the eighth 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, just enjoy it and keep it going.”