Koepka out in front as play suspended – The Masters

Round 2

Brooks Koepka built a commanding lead in the second round at The Masters before fallen trees and the threat of storms saw play suspended at Augusta National.

Koepka followed Sunday’s victory at the LIV Golf League event in Orlando by firing a seven-under 65 on the opening day, seeing him share the early lead alongside Viktor Hovland and Jon Rahm, before jumping to the top of the leaderboard with another impressive display on Friday morning.

The four-time major champion produced a masterclass from tee to green on his way to a bogey-free 67, moving him to 12 under, with only a cold putter preventing the American from building a record-breaking halfway lead.

Play was halted for just over 20 minutes due to the threat of thunderstorms but resumed at 3.28pm local time (8.28pm BST), only to be suspended again less than an hour later due to the threat of further inclement weather and with 39 players still to complete their second rounds.

Three trees were blown over to the left of the 17th tee due to the wind, although tournament officials confirmed in a statement that no injuries were reported. Play was officially called off for the day and the second round is set to resume at 8am local time (1pm GMT).

Augusta National once again got the better of the much fancied McIlroy.

Former world No 1 Koepka produced a superb up-and-down from a greenside bunker to birdie the par-five second and holed from 10 feet to save par at the next, then ended a run of pars by firing a brilliant approach to set up a 15-foot eagle at the par-five eighth.

Koepka missed birdie chances from inside 10 feet on his next two holes, but extended his lead to four shots when a short pitch set up a close-range birdie at the par-five 13th, with the American unable to take advantage of another opportunity on the next hole.

A two-putt from 20 feet saw Koepka birdie the par-five 15th, having been cleared of a potential rules violation on the same hole the previous day, before two-putt pars over the final three holes completed a blemish-free round.

“I was really solid,” Koepka said. “Didn’t really do too much wrong. Maybe the speed kind of got me on a few putts. Wasn’t hitting them hard enough there towards the end, but striking the ball really well and leaving it in good spots. That’s what you’ve got to do, you’ve got to make birdies on these par-fives, take advantage of them.”

Koepka is full of confidence and won’t change his approach for the weekend. He said: “Same mindset. Got me this far, so it should be all right on Saturday, Sunday. It’s just up to me where I play good or not. Simple.”

He added: “The whole goal is to win the Grand Slam, right? I feel like all the greats have won here and they have all won the British Open as well. I guess it’s one more box to tick to truly feel like I’ve done what I should have accomplished in this game.”

Jason Day started strong but fell back to record an even par round of 72.

Rahm was two under for his round with nine holes to finish when play was stopped, lifting him to solo second on nine under, while US Amateur champion Sam Bennett is in third after firing back-to-back 68s.

Bennett birdied his opening hole and cancelled out a bogey at the fourth by making successive gains from the seventh, with back-to-back birdies from the 13th on a blemish-free back nine taking him to eight under.

Overnight co-leader Hovland is six back with eight to play, alongside Collin Morikawa, who carded successive 69s, while Jason Day was initially Koepka’s closest challenger and briefly within three of the lead until he dropped four shots over the final four holes.

Defending champion Scottie Scheffler slipped down the leaderboard with a three-over 75, while Rory McIlroy – who could have leapfrogged him as world No 1 this week – only registered two birdies and looks set to miss the cut on five over after carding seven bogeys in a second-round 77.

McIlroy’s latest failed bid for a career Grand Slam leaves him currently three strokes outside the projected cut mark of two over, with Tiger Woods on the bubble and level par for this round with seven holes to complete.

Heavy rain and strong winds are forecast for Saturday, with further delays likely, meaning a first Monday finish at The Masters since 1983 could become a possibility.


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