Saturday, 13 April 2019
Francesco Molinari  (Getty Images)
Francesco Molinari (Getty Images)

Francesco Molinari and Louis Oosthuizen were part of a five man group of Major Champions sharing the lead heading into the weekend at the Masters Tournament.

Reigning Open Champion Molinari carded a 67 early in the day to set the target at seven under and 2010 Claret Jug winner Oosthuizen went one better to join him in the fading light at Augusta National Golf Club.

In between, 2015 US PGA Champion Jason Day, 2013 winner here Adam Scott and reigning U.S. Open and US PGA Champion Brooks Koepka all hit the summit to make it a record breaking five way tie after 36 holes.

Tiger Woods has 14 Majors to his name and he made three birdies on the back nine to electrify the patrons and move to six under alongside 2016 U.S. Open winner Dustin Johnson, another American in Xander Schauffele and South African Justin Harding.

In wet conditions that also contained a short storm delay, Molinari was bogey free as he looks to add to his Claret Jug, Race to Dubai title, Rolex Series win at the BMW PGA Championship and two further wins on the US PGA Tour in the last 12 months.

A stunning approach to four feet brought the Italian a birdie on the third and he made the most of the par five eighth with a lovely chip before a 14 footer on the next had him within one of the lead.

He holed from 25 feet on the 12th to share top spot and a chip to two feet on the 15th set up another birdie and a two shot lead, with two putts from 75 feet on the last keeping him at seven under.

"It was a very good day for me," he said. "I started playing well from the beginning, made a couple of nice putts towards the end of the back nine. I didn't really get in trouble at any point, just played solid."

Day was the first man to catch him, after he had sandwiched birdies on the par five second and eighth with an approach to 12 feet on the fifth to turn in 33. The Australian bogeyed the 12th but again made the most of the par fives at the 13th and 15th before putting his tee shot to nine feet on the 16th.

Koepka had shared the overnight lead and a ten foot birdie on the first handed him the solo advantage before tree trouble on the second brought a double bogey. He birdied the next but dropped shots on the fourth and sixth and missed an eagle putt from five feet on the eighth after an incredible second from 250 yards.

A run of six pars followed but the American made the most of the 15th and then put an approach to eight feet on the last as he looks to own three Major titles at once.

Australian Scott sandwiched a tee shot to ten feet on the 12th with birdies on the eighth and 13th, and held the lead on his own when he put his second on the 15th to four feet before three putting the next.

Oosthuizen bookended tap-ins on the par three fourth and sixth with 25 foot putts on the first and seventh before bogeying the eighth. Another beautiful tee shot into a par three brought a birdie on the 12th and the South African birded the two par fives on the back nine.

"I gave myself a lot of opportunities and made that odd putt for par when I was in trouble and that really helped," he said. "I'll just try and get myself somewhere in the tournament with nine holes to go and on this back nine, anything can happen."

Harding was one over for his round after 11 holes but then went on a stunning run, holing long putts at the 12th and 14th and making the most of the 13th and 15th before leaving himself a tap-in at the 17th. He was in a share of the lead at that point but bogeyed the last.

Johnson bogeyed the first but recovered with birdies on the tenth, 13th - where he chipped in after earlier finding the water - and 15th.

On a day that produced just the second occasion where the field have averaged under par in round one or two at Augusta, Schauffele produced the lowest round of the week so far, overcoming an opening bogey with gains on the second, third, eighth, ninth, 13th, 14th, 15th and last in a 65.

Woods then had the famous roars echoing around Augusta, holing from 37 feet on the ninth to get into red numbers on the day before birdieing the 11th, making a remarkable gain after a ragged tee shot on the 14th, and holing from 30 feet on the next.

Ian Poulter and Jon Rahm were at five under, with 28 players within five shots of the lead.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1WOODS, TigerUSA18-13
T2JOHNSON, DustinUSA18-12
T2KOEPKA, BrooksUSA18-12
T5DAY, JasonAUS18-11

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