AUGUSTA, Georgia – Reigning champion Hideki Matsuyama moved into a four-way tie for second after the second round of the Masters Tournament on Friday to sit five shots off American leader Scottie Scheffler.
Starting the day in 19th and at even par, Matsuyama piled up four birdies and a bogey for a 3-under 69 at Augusta National Golf Club to pull himself into contention. Scheffler, ranked No. 1 in the world, had seven birdies and two bogeys for a round of 67, tied for the best mark of the day.
Matsuyama is tied for second with South Korean first-round leader Im Sung-jae, South African Charl Schwartzel and Ireland’s Shane Lowry.
Five-time Masters winner Tiger Woods shot 74 to sit at 1-over, easily beneath the 4-over cut line on his return from a career-threatening right leg injury suffered in a serious car accident in February last year. He has a steep hill to climb, though, if he is to win his 16th major title.
Matsuyama, seeking his second title at Augusta, utilized all his tricks on a day when only 13 players shot under par due to windy conditions.
Playing in the day’s penultimate group, Matsuyama birdied on the second, third and sixth holes to get his front nine off to a hot start.
He hit a booming drive then an outrageous bump-and-run chip on the par-4 third to set up the birdie and then left himself with little more than a tap-in after a pin-hunting tee shot on the par-3 sixth.
“I think I had a good performance,” said the 30-year-old. “Looking at the scores of other players, I thought it must be pretty difficult to play (due to the conditions). I was playing thinking it was a bonus if I could get (birdies) on the par-5s.”
After his only bogey on the seventh hole, Matsuyama had a clean run over the final nine, snagging one birdie on the par-5 15th after flirting with the water on his approach.
“I played alongside Justin (Thomas), he comfortably got a 5-under and that lifted my performance,” he said. “I can go into the rounds tomorrow and the day after in a decent position.”
The two other Japanese players in the field failed to make the cut. Takumi Kanaya finished at 5-over after carding a 74 in his second round and amateur Keita Nakajima at 7-over after a 79.
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