Charley Hoffman has company atop leader board after second round of Masters
He safely negotiated Amen Corner, where he came to grief spectacularly in the final round previous year, and picked up further birdies at the par-five 13th and 15th holes before dropping his only shot of the day at the par-three 16th.
Fowler has an impressive record in golf's big tournaments without lifting a trophy.
In all, it's one of the Masters' most crowded leaderboards heading into Saturday's third round.
Rory McIlroy was primed to join the logjam near the top until an bad break on the final hole curbed his second-round move.
If there was any justice, McIlroy would only be three strokes off the pace at Augusta National after he nearly literally knocked down the pin at the par-four 18th. Friday, his four-stroke lead disappeared quickly, and a gaggle of golfers - packed with big names - have set the stage for a shootout over the weekend in the year's first major championship.
He wound up going nowhere.
In about five hours, there could be more clarity or simply more chaos at Augusta National.
Fowler, who shot an 80 in the opening round past year to miss the cut, made the biggest move Friday with a 5-under 67. "It was a reward for staying patient on the front nine".
And those were just the co-leaders in the largest 36-hole logjam at the Masters in 44 years.
Even with a 65-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole, Els shot an 83 for his third round.
"Disappointed to finish like that, but I'm still within five of the lead with better conditions on the way", McIlroy said. He fired a 3-iron across the water and into the wind to the 15th green for a two-putt birdie and shot 69. Because, 4, 5, 6, 7 are tough holes.
"Had an 8-iron in my hands and then switched to a 9", McIlroy said.
When under pressure, "you start to shoot at a few pins. leave yourself in spots you don't really want to". He had six birdies and three bogeys for a 69. "I'm a competitor, so I like to believe in myself", he said after shooting 70.
Spieth followed it up with a birdie but finished on three over for the round, 10 strokes behind leader Charley Hoffman. "Obviously I wanted to see if I could shoot under par again", he said. "There's times on this course where you take your medicine and try to just walk away with a par".
"My start really gave me a bit of cushion and momentum in the right direction and freed me up". Rickie Fowler was the last of the quartet, opening his round par-eagle-birdie and roasting Augusta to a second-round 67.
"Everybody talked about how great the Thursday round was, but it was pretty easy to me, making putts and hitting good golf shots". "I guess the golf course was Tiger-proofed at one point".
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