You expected tightening, if not around the collar at least at the top of the boards.
Charley Hoffman, coming off one of the most brilliant rounds in Masters history, a 65 in the windiest conditions in years, went out early on Friday and came back to the field. His 3-over 75 wasn’t terrible. In fact, it was just under the field average.
“Had a good chance on No. 4 to get to 9 under and just didn’t capitalize,” Hoffman said afterward. “Then I made a few bogeys. I got out of position, didn’t capitalize, and didn’t make the putts. (But I’m) happy with the way I finished. Closed the last seven (holes) 1 under, and gave myself a chance going into the weekend.”
Hoffman’s 4-under total was the target score. And while three equaled it, nobody could go lower.
In at minus-4 after Hoffman was Sergio García, the most consistent player during the first two days and the man whose ballstriking has been almost perfect. Only three players birdied the first hole over the first two days. The opener played a more than a half-shot over par (an average that wasn’t helped by defending champion Danny Willett, who shanked his second shot from a tough lie near a fairway bunker at No. 1 and made a quadruple-bogey 8). García made one of those birdies.
By all rights, García could have been 5- and maybe 6-under par. He hit it just long on 13 in two and made an ugly 6. But you won’t hear him complain.
Nor will any negative words come from Rickie Fowler, who shot 67 to reach 4 under. Fowler flew his second shot over the 15th green, got a bad hop, found the water, and made bogey. But he followed it up with a birdie at 16 and two great approaches at 17 and 18.
“I love looking up and seeing the big leaderboards,” Fowler said. “It’s a cool thing about Augusta, very old school with the non-electronic leaderboards out there. It’s a lot of fun to see your name up there, so hopefully I can go ahead and keep it up on the big leaderboards.”
Thomas Pieters, who played his first 10 holes on Thursday in 5 under before falling back to earth, also clawed his way to a 4-under total.
A dozen players are within four shots of the lead. Just what fans want and what The Masters delivers time after time.