AUGUSTA (AFP) ‒ Justin Rose squandered a four-shot advantage, then birdied three of the last six holes to seize a one-stroke lead after Friday’s second round of the 85th Masters.
The 40-year-old Englishman overcame a nightmare start to fire a level par 72 and stand on seven-under 137 after 36 holes at Augusta National.
Rose, twice a Masters runner-up, fired a 65 on Thursday to lead by four, matching the largest 18-hole Masters edge since 1941.
But the reigning Olympic champion began Friday with four bogeys in his first seven holes, briefly losing the lead before a sparkling late fightback restored him to the top.
Will Zalatoris, who could become the first Masters debutant winner since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979, and Brian Harman shared second on 138.
The US duo only qualified for the Masters off last week’s world rankings, but one could take his first major title by winning the green jacket.
Zalatoris birdied the last three holes to shoot 68 and likely put himself in Saturday’s last group, while Harman birdied 17 and 18 to shoot 69.
Three-time major winner Jordan Spieth, who snapped a four-year win drought last weekend, shared third on 139 with Australian Marc Leishman.
Spieth, a 2015 Masters and US Open champion, had not won since the 2017 US Open until last Sunday at Texas.
A pack three back on 140 included second-ranked Justin Thomas, fellow Americans Tony Finau and Cameron Champ, Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama and South Korean Kim Si-woo.
Thomas could overtake Dustin Johnson for world number one with a victory.
Reigning US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau birdied three of the last four holes to stand on 143, finally finding form with his long-driving style.
Top-ranked defending champion Johnson made bogeys on three of the last four holes to finish on 149 and miss the cut, which came at 3-over 147 and left 54 players for the weekend.
Also missing the cut were four-time major winners Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy and England’s Lee Westwood.
American Matthew Wolff was disqualified for returning an incorrect scorecard.