Sergio Garcia moves into share of Masters lead with Charley Hoffman

Sergio Garcia moves into share of Masters lead with Charley Hoffman

Sergio Garcia moves into share of Masters lead with Charley Hoffman

His experience in contending in major championships on the weekend is thin.

Hoffman, who fired a seven-under par 65 in Thursday's opening round, birdied the par-5 second but stumbled with three consecutive bogeys starting at the par-3 sixth, then opened the back nine with another to slide to four-under alongside Garcia. His four-shot lead was gone in 11 holes, and he steadied himself the rest of the way to limit the damage to a 75.

He sank three birdies Friday, but his hopes of reaching the weekend were diminished when he had three bogeys on the back nine.

Hoffman and Garcia will be playing in the last group Saturday and Pieters and Fowler will be in the penultimate pairing.

McIlroy, 27, followed an opening 72 on Thursday with a one-over 73 on Friday to leave him five behind a leading quartet of Spain's Sergio Garcia, American 18-hole leader Charley Hoffman, his compatriot Rickie Fowler and Belgium's Thomas Pieters. The 57-year-old Couples, who won the Masters in 1992 before Jon Rahm was born, is three back at one-under.

With the likes of 57-year-old Fred Couples, rookie Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth and three-time victor Phil Mickelson also in the top 10, the weekend will be fun. Justin Rose (-2) T7.

Fowler, 28 and eighth in the World Ranking, had the best round of the day, a five-under par 67 that included an eagle at the second hole and four birdies.

The leaders represent three age groups.

Then again, we may not be talking about Pieters, Fowler and others if Hoffman's clubs were still on fire. Also making the cut was 20-year-old Australian Curtis Luck, who qualified for Augusta by winning both the U.S. Amateur and the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.

HEADING HOME: Defending champion Danny Willett made a snowman at the first hole and never quite recovered.

"Disappointed to finish like that, but I'm still within five of the lead going into the weekend with better conditions on the way", said McIlroy, who needs a win this week to complete a collection of all four of golf's major titles. He has been over par in 34 of 64 rounds, but has 10 rounds in the 60s, including 66 in 2014 when he has his best finish, a tie for fourth.

"I was very patient today after the bogey on one".

"I think that I'm working on trying to accept things ... which can happen here and can happen anywhere", Garcia said.

Sunday's final round falls on what would have been the 60th birthday of two-time Masters champion Seve Ballesteros and Garcia added: " It would mean a lot. "It's hard to describe it until it happens". But at the same time, it's Friday afternoon.

Mickelson hovered around the top of the leaderboard all day Friday, getting to as low as 3-under, but he could not sink enough putts. For his second trip around Augusta National, he needed 31 putts.

"Just keep building off what I did two years ago", he said of his game plan. If I can put a 31 or 32 together I can get close. But for me, I feel so fortunate that I've been able to be healthy, that I've been able to play so many majors in a row, and giving myself a lot of chances to win them.

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