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NEWS: Reed Asserts Control At The Halfway Mark

Patrick Reed (Photo: Lucy Nicholson, Reuters)

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA – For a guy who never had broken 70 in his 12 previous Masters rounds, Patrick Reed is making up for lost time. 

Reed’s 69-66 start at Augusta National is good enough for a two-stroke lead over Marc Leishman and has him four clear of Henrik Stenson.

It’s how Reed got there that explains why he’s in control of this championship halfway home.

He has played eight par-5s and made eight birdies.

In 36 holes, Reed has one-putted 22 times.

And he has made birdies in bunches, stringing together three sets of three birdies in a row on Friday (Nos. 1-3, 7-9 and 13-15).

WATCH: Reed Drains 26-Footer for Birdie at No. 1

He even has taken the advice of his wife, Justine, who suggested he quit trying to find the first fairway with his sometimes untamed driver and hit a 3-wood instead. He’s 2-for-2 and will have his 3-wood in hand on the first tee again Saturday.

Could this be Reed’s first major championship victory?

He was a co-leader after the second round at the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay and he finished T2 at the PGA Championship last August.

“If you don’t believe you can win, you probably shouldn’t be playing,” Reed said. “I believe if I play the golf I know I can play, I can win majors.”

Reed impressed Tiger Woods on Friday.

“He’s got three bogeys right now, and 6 under for the day. Under these conditions? That’s impressive,” Woods said.

“We were thinking that probably 4 or 5 under might be the lowest round out there. But he’s proven that wrong. He’s playing great. We all know the kind of talent he is. Just a beautiful putter, just a great combo for this golf course.”

WATCH: Reed Birdies No. 9 for Front-Nine 31

Reed and Leishman did the best work on a difficult Friday when the wind swirled, the firm greens got firmer and the line between good and bad was spider-web thin.

There were only seven scores under 70 on Friday and Reed’s 66 – which included three bogeys – was the best of the day. Leishman’s 67 was matched by Justin Thomas, who played his way back into contention, and no one else was that good in the second round.

One of the mantras of Masters week is patience, which is another way of saying “don’t get greedy,” but it’s so easy to get on the wrong side of Augusta National’s withering edge. Sometimes, though, the moment presents itself and Leishman found himself in that spot Friday at the par-5 15th.

Coming off a bogey at the 14th hole, Leishman found himself on the left side of the par-5 15th fairway, contemplating whether to try and sling a 210-yard 5-iron shot around a tree to reach the green in two, figuring if he pulled the shot off it would work its way toward the hole cut on the far left side of the green.

“Oh, we’re not here to lay up. It’s a major, you’re going to have to take some chances at some point during the week if you want to win and that was a time where I thought I had to take a chance,” Leishman said.

It produced an eagle that left him in his best position after 36 holes in a major championship.



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