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As Rose wilts, a pursuing pack closes in

Justin Rose most likely ought to have stayed in mattress. The Englishman ended Day 2 on the Masters in the identical place he started — atop the leaderboard — solely to find the objects in his mirror have been out of the blue a lot nearer than they appeared.

“For sure,” Rose stated, “I didn’t quite appreciate the scoring was going to be quite so good today.”

For everybody else, possibly.

Rose adopted his opening-round 65 with an even-par 72 that permit his rivals squeeze many of the air out of what had been a four-shot cushion. On Thursday, he was certainly one of solely three golfers to publish a spherical in the 60s. Overcast skies Friday made the greens extra receptive and by day’s finish, there have been extra playing cards turned in with 60-something on them — 18 in all — than you’d see on the VFW corridor on Bingo Night.

“For as tough as this place has been playing,” stated Justin Thomas, who shot 67, “I felt like it was as easy as it could have been … a lot of my birdies have been pretty low stress or pretty easy.”

For all that, Rose’s 137 complete on the halfway level of the event was nonetheless adequate for a one-shot lead over Will Zalatoris and Brian Harman.

Zalatoris, who was plugging away on the Korn Ferry Tour about this time final yr, birdied the ultimate three holes for 68. He referred to as his strategy into the 18th his most satisfying swing of the spherical, “knowing that it would get me into the final group.”

Harman, a left-hander who didn’t suppose he’d qualify as lately as final month, birdied the final two for 69.

“Whenever you look up on the leaderboard and see your name up there pretty high at Augusta, it’s hard not to get nervous,” Harman stated. “I was nervous. But it was nice to settle down with a good birdie on 2, and I struck it well all day today.”

He wasn’t the one one. Lurking one other shot again at 139 have been 2015 winner Jordan Spieth (68) and Marc Leishman (67). That, in flip, was one higher than a six-pack of golfers at 140, together with Thomas, Tony Finau (66) and most improbably maybe, Si Woo Kim (69).

Kim’s chip for birdie from simply behind the inexperienced at No. 15 had an excessive amount of steam and zoomed previous the cup earlier than nestling into the perimeter on the entrance. His response was steamier nonetheless. Kim slammed the pinnacle of his putter into the turf and snapped it off.

“Did you ever do that before?” a reporter requested afterward.

“Not on the course,” Kim replied to laughter.

He completed that gap and the following three placing along with his fairway steel, which prompted one other abrupt alternate.

“Si Woo, do you have another putter?”

“No, I don’t want to answer any more,” he replied. “Sorry.”

While Rose made no apologies, he had loads of regrets. He bogeyed No. 1, had a 67-foot birdie strive on the par-3 sixth fail to climb a slope close to the pin and nearly all the way in which again right down to his ft for a second bogey, added a third at No. 7, and was caught at 4 beneath strolling off the twelfth.

But Rose regrouped, birdied Nos. 13, 14 and 16 to get again to even on the day. It may not have appear to be a lot of an accomplishment in comparison with all these 60s. On the opposite hand, defending champion Dustin Johnson, four-time main winner Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Patrick Cantlay have been all headed for the exit after failing to hit the reduce line at 147.

After his spherical, Rose was requested why so many first-round leaders — even the highest gamers — battle to string collectively nice back-to-back rounds at Augusta.

“It’s hard. We haven’t quite figured out that dynamic. Otherwise,” he smiled ruefully, “we’d do a better job that second day.”

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