Rahm grabs share of Masters lead while Tiger edges closer
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Augusta (United States) (AFP) –
Jon Rahm grabbed a share of the lead, Tiger Woods stayed in the hunt and US Open winner Bryson DeChambeau barely made the cut in Saturday's completion of the darkness-halted second round of the Masters.
Second-ranked Rahm completed a bogey-free six-under-par 66 to join world number one Dustin Johnson and third-ranked Justin Thomas in the lead pack of five on nine-under 135 -- the first time in major golf history the world's top three shared the lead after any round.
"This weekend is going to be a good one to watch with the course getting better and the leaderboard we have going on," Rahm said.
Mexico's Abraham Ancer, ranked 21st, and 45th-ranked Australian Cameron Smith completed the lead group ahead of round three in cool and cloudy at Augusta National, where greens were firming up after two days of rain-soaked vulnerability.
"The greens are getting faster," Rahm warned. "If they can keep up these green speeds for the afternoon, Augusta National is going to play more like Augusta National."
Defending champion Woods completed a round of 71 to stand four strokes off the lead on 139 and said while greens were faster, low scores were still on offer.
"Eat fast, change clothes and get after it," Woods said. "There are going to be low scores out there. The golf course is definitely gettable."
DeChambeau, who many feared would overwhelm Augusta National with his power-driving game, barely avoided a humiliating early exit despite a two-over 74, making the record-low Masters cut of par 144 on the number.
- Covid scare -
Sixth-ranked DeChambeau said he underwent a Covid-19 test after feeling dizzy on the course Friday.
"I don't know what was going on, a little something weird. So I got checked for Covid last night and I was fine, nothing," DeChambeau said.
"I don't know what it is or what happened, but these past couple days, I've felt really odd, just not 100%. Some of that has played into it. I just feel kind of dull and numb out there, just not fully aware of everything and making some silly mistakes."
Spaniard Rahm returned to the course just after sunrise and sank a five-foot birdie putt on the par-5 13th to match the leaders, having left the crucial putt overnight for better conditions to make a tricky read.
"The only reason why I didnt putt it was darkness," Rahm said. "It felt like a different putt. The green speeds were much better this morning. It was perfect. I'm glad I waited."
Rahm also rescued par at the par-5 15th, sending a flier approach over the green and chipping short of the putting surface before holing the chip to stay level for the lead.
"It was huge, keep that bogey-free round going," Rahm said. "A chip-in is always a huge boost of confidence."
Woods, a 15-time major winner seeking his sixth green jacket to equal the record set by Jack Nicklaus, birdied the par-5 15th and parred in to share 17th on 139 with, among others, three-time Masters winner Phil Mickelson and four-time major champion Brooks Koepka.
The former world number one had matched his best Masters start with a 68 and was on level par after 10 holes in round two when he resumed.
Woods, who turns 45 next month, also chases an 83rd career PGA Tour victory to break the record he shares with Sam Snead.
World number 18 Hideki Matsuyama made three pars to finish a bogey-free 68 and join a sixth-place pack one stroke back on 136 that also featured Taiwan's 176th-ranked C.T. Pan, South Korea's Im Sung-jae and Americans Patrick Reed and Patrick Cantlay.
"It was a good finish for me," said Matsuyama. "I'm pleased. Just try to keep on doing what I'm doing."
The English trio of Tommy Fleetwood, 2016 Masters winner Danny Willett and 2016 Olympic champion Justin Rose were another stroke adrift.
© 2020 AFP