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Rose clings to 1-shot Masters lead as Spieth, Thomas lurk

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Justin Rose apparently did not get the memo that Augusta National was slightly extra forgiving Friday within the Masters. The comfort was nonetheless having the lead, however simply barely.

Rose did not hit one putt exhausting sufficient to get by the perimeter behind the fourth inexperienced. Another putt on the sixth gap did not have sufficient tempo and returned again to him some 60 toes away.

All round him, main champions and a Masters rookie scored effectively sufficient to shut the hole. The contenders even included Si Woo Kim, who broke his putter in anger and used a fairway steel to putt the ultimate 4 holes.

Rose was amongst 12 gamers who broke par Thursday. He wasn’t among the many 40 who broke par on Friday.

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

Even so, his even-par 72 was adequate for a one-shot lead going right into a weekend stuffed with slightly thriller how Augusta National will play and loads of potentialities for who will win the inexperienced jacket.

One certainty: It will not be Dustin Johnson, who took 64 putts in 36 holes and missed the minimize by two photographs.

Rose was at 7-under 137, one shot forward of Brian Harman (69) and Will Zalatoris (68), the 24-year-old from Dallas who nonetheless does not have a full PGA Tour card.

“I wanted to be here my entire life,” Zalatoris stated after birdies on his final three holes to get within the last group. “Some people shy away from that, but I’m excited to be here. There’s no reason to feel intimidated now. I made it to here. And obviously, the job is not done by any means.”

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 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.”

The course played to an average score of 72.2, compared with 74.5 for the opening round.

Bernd Wiesberger of Austria and Tony Finau each had 66 to get within three shots. Also in that group was Justin Thomas, who can returned to No. 1 in the world with a victory. He missed a short par putt on the final hole and shot 67.

“For as tough as this place has been playing, I felt like it was as easy as it could have been,” Thomas said.

The wild card in all this is Zalatoris, built like a 1-iron and already renowned for his ball striking. His late run began with a 9-iron to a back right pin on the par-3 16th to 10 feet and ended with a wedge from 138 yards on the 18th to 5 feet.

“Being here is a childhood dream,” he said. “Final group on Saturday is pretty cool.”

Zalatoris played some of his best when golf was shut down during the pandemic. Zalatoris was on the Korn Ferry Tour and, when golf resumed, he had five straight finishes in the top six, including his first victory.

That got him into the U.S. Open, where he tied for sixth. Now he has temporary PGA Tour membership and is among the top 50 in the world, getting him into the Masters. That’s why he talks of an “attitude of gratitude.”

Zalatoris also is a quick study with a long memory. He grew up with the kids of former PGA champion Lanny Wadkins, and took in tales of Wadkins and his 23 times playing the Masters. One story Zalatoris heard when he was 14 years old came in handy on the par-3 12th hole.

“He just said that whenever it’s into the wind … it just doesn’t really affect the ball as much,” Zalatoris said. “And when it’s downwind, that’s where guys tend to struggle.”

The wind was about 10 mph into him and out of the left, 153 yards to the opening. He hit a shot that usually goes 152 yards and it carried 150. It helped that he made a 35-foot putt for birdie.

It has been 42 years since Fuzzy Zoeller turned the newest participant to win the Masters on his first attempt.

Right there with Zalatoris is one other Dallas resident — Spieth, who’s wanting just like the Spieth of previous at age 27. He thought he might win at Augusta even earlier than he received final week in Texas.

“I’m in place now to suppose that for certain,” Spieth stated. “But at the halfway point, I would have been pleased with being two back.”

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