Patrick Reed finally arrived on the major stage and did so in style today at Augusta National by being the only player to shoot two rounds in the 60s.
A stunning second round 66 threw him to the top of the leaderboard, two ahead of Aussie Marc Leishman, and four clear of 2016 Open champion Henrik Stenson.
No fewer than 11 of the top-20 players in the world are inside the top-20 of the leaderboard going into Saturday’s play.
Reed takes the lead at a weekend of a major for only the second time in his career. Before this year, Reed had never broken 70 at the Masters.
This week, he’s birdied all eight par-5s in his opening two rounds - but he said the secret to his success was a tip from his wife.
“My wife always tells me to hit 3-wood off the first and I’ve listened both days,” said Reed. “Again, I got off to a good start. To get a birdie out early and then going into a par-5, it allowed the day to start off on the right foot. It’s important to attack the par-5s. To make a lot of birdies there allows you to be really aggressive when you feel comfortable.
“Everyone wants to win. I know that if I play the golf that I can play, I can win majors. There are a lot of holes left. I've got to go out and and keep to my game plan and continue to shoot in the 60s and get the job done.
“The more you get to play out here, the more comfortable you get. I think I know where to leave the golf ball and now it’s just going out to execute the game plan. I’ve not made a lot of mistakes.
“We’re only halfway and I’ve got a long way to go. I just need to keep doing what I’m doing.”
Leishman hit the shot of the day on No.15 to set up an eagle opportunity, which he took - his first at Augusta – and grabbed himself a spot in the last pairing of the day.
The Aussie only has one top-five at Augusta in five attempts and said his performance this week was just a case of being more clinical.
“At some point during the week you’re going to have to take a chance and it came off and I was able to make eagle,” Leishman said of his heroics at 15. “It’s a great leaderboard and this year is no different. But with the weather conditions tomorrow I think I’ll just worry about myself.”
Tiger Woods, after yesterday’s adventurous 73, played poorly and never really got going. As he did yesterday, the 14-time major winner knocked one into the water at 12. He putted poorly to shoot 75 and leave himself in a tie for 40th.
Henrik Stenson, meanwhile, went round in 70 blows for his best-ever performance going into the weekend at the Masters. Stenson has never had a top-10 at Augusta and last year missed the cut.
Lurking on four-under, five back, is Augusta specialist Jordan Spieth, who rallied superbly after covering the first two holes in three-over.
“I’m still in this tournament,” said Spieth, who sits alongside Rory McIlroy on four-under, the Northern Irishman chasing a Green Jacket in a bid to complete the grand slam at the age of 28.
World No.1 Dustin Johnson, seemingly the forgotten man this week at Augusta, threw himself into contention with a four-under 68 alongside Justin Thomas in a tie for sixth.