Rules row leaves shadow hanging over Koepka charge at Augusta

Brooks Koepka - Brooks Koepka leads Masters by three as falling trees suspend play - Getty Images/Patrick Smith

Brooks Koepka – Brooks Koepka leads Masters by three as falling trees suspend play – Getty Images/Patrick Smith

By James Corrigan, at Augusta

Brooks Koepka carved glorious daylight for his resurgent self at the top of the leaderboard here on the second day of the 87th Masters, as he claimed a three-shot lead. But a huge cloud hangs over his challenge for a fifth major. And it is not LIV Golf.

Immediately after posting a second-round 67 that boasted no bogeys but so much quality, Koepka, 32, was dragged into the disciplinarians’s hut for a second day running to face questions about a rules row on Thursday that Paul McGinley, the former Ryder Cup, labeled as “staggering” and “blatant”.

To recap, TV cameras took footage on the par-five 15th that quickly went viral on social media seemingly showing Ricky Elliott, the popular caddie from Portrush, saying “five” on two occasions to the caddie of Koepka’s playing partner Gary Woodland. Was this Elliott telling his fellow bagman which club his employer had taken to clear the water in front of the green?

On Thursday night, Augusta released a bulletin stating that officials had asked the group for an explanation about the accusations which, if proved, would have violated Rule 20B. “All involved were adamant that no advice was given or requested. Consequently, the Committee determined there was no breach of the Rules,” it said.

This is what McGinley found “staggering”. “The evidence was clearly there,” the Irishman said. The rule states that directly communicating which club a player hit constitutes giving advice and would be an infraction. And it also refers to either the player and/or his caddie being at fault in that instance and the player being hit with a punishment. The sanction would have been two shots, which would put Koepka on 10-under not 12-under.

On Friday, the referees were clearly not satisfied and hauled in Koepka to double-check why video clips also showed Koepka, himself, apparently signalling with his hand that he had used a five-iron.

“I was taking my glove off,” Koepka later insisted to reporters. “I don’t know if you’re supposed to now take your glove off with your fist closed or what. The last thing I’m going to do is give it [advice] to Gary Woodland, the [former] US Open champ.”

That line of defence would appear to make plenty of sense to the layman, apart from the fact that McGinley – and a few high-profile caddies, thereafter – claimed it is entirely normal for caddies to tell each other – and indeed, players, too – about clubs used.

Brooks Koepka and Gary Woodland - Brooks Koepka leads Masters by three as falling trees suspend play - Reuters/Mike Segar

Brooks Koepka and Gary Woodland – Brooks Koepka leads Masters by three as falling trees suspend play – Reuters/Mike Segar

“Whether you like it or not, it’s common practice,” McGinley said. “It happens in every professional tournament around the world. It’s not always so blatant.”

Craig Connelly, who has caddied for names such as Colin Montgomerie, Paul Casey and Martin Kaymer, concurred. “Happens every single day, multiple times a round and if there’s a caddy on here who says they’ve never done it, then they’re talking s—,” the Scotsman said.

Yet, obviously, just because it is an accepted breach does not mean it should escape punishment. “If the authorities want to stamp this out [they would] really come down on this and make an example of it, and obviously they haven’t,” McGinley said.

This saga will not die with Koepka looming so large on the leaderboard. Which is a shame if only because Koepka has returned to his best – for two days at least – after fearing his career might be over when shattering his knee cap when falling over in his kitchen in 2021.

We always knew that there would be controversies involving LIV players here, but nobody expected this. Koepka joined the Saudi-funded circuit last summer with a signing-on fee believed to top $100million, but after this major masterclass he confessed that he might have decided differently if he had felt this good.

“If I’m being completely honest. I think it would have been [a different decision],” he said, after a round featuring an eagle and three birdies. “But I’m happy with the decision I made.”

Brooks Koepka bunker shot - Brooks Koepka leads Masters by three as falling trees suspend play - Getty Images/Ross Kinnaird

Brooks Koepka bunker shot – Brooks Koepka leads Masters by three as falling trees suspend play – Getty Images/Ross Kinnaird

The last few years have seen bleak times for Koepka, especially when he missed the Masters cut in 2022 for a second time in succession.

“I don’t even know if I should be saying this, but I tried to break the back window with my fist of the car, I tried to put it through the back window, not once but twice,” Koepka said “It happened right outside the caddie hut here. There was just a lot of frustration. But yeah, I never managed to break it. So I guess Mercedes makes a pretty good back window.”

Ironically, Koepka’s halfway total is the joint-third lowest in tournament history alongside that of LIV CEO Greg Norman. In the courtrooms it has been a brutal few days for the breakaway league – after Thursday’s announcement that it has lost its arbitration hearing with the DP World Tour, there was another setback on Friday in its separate case against the PGA Tour – but on the course it has been extremely positive.

As well as Koepka, Phil Mickelson turned back the years by shooting a 69 to move to four-under.

However. Koepka’s nearest chaser in the clubhouse happens to be amateur Sam Bennett. The 23-year-old Texan fired a second 68 to move to eight-under, putting so many pros to shame. On the course, world No 3 Jon Rahm is on nine-under, three behind, with nine holes remaining of his second round as play was suspended for the day when a clump of trees tumbled in the high winds.

Tiger Woods is two-over through 11 holes and will be presented with a fight to make the cut when he returns at 8am. However, Rory McIlroy looks almost certain to miss his second cut in the last Masters after shooting a 77 that left him on five-over.

Rory McIlroy - Rules row leaves shadow hanging over Koepka charge at Augusta - Reuters/Mike Segar

Rory McIlroy – Rules row leaves shadow hanging over Koepka charge at Augusta – Reuters/Mike Segar

Table of Contents

Amateur inspired by late father’s words

By James Corrigan

An amateur with the words of his inspirational late father tattooed on his left forearm has become the unexpected feelgood story of the 87th Masters.

Sam Bennett shot the lowest halfway total by a member of the unpaid ranks at the Augusta major for 67 years and then explained the unlikely and emotional journey he has made to stand in second place in the clubhouse on eight-under, four shots behind leader Brooks Koepka.

The 23-year-old Texan won the US Amateur to earn his berth here and his remarkable tale has increasingly gained traction.

Mark Bennett, an air-force veteran, died aged 53 in June 2021 from Alzheimers, but before he passed he wrote down a five-word note for his son. It read: “Don’t wait to do something.” The tattooist copied the exact handwriting.

“I thrive on it and use it for some motivation,” Bennett said after his second successive 68. “I know how happy he would be seeing me out here at Augusta National doing what I’m doing.

“This week, I’ve used it to just stay focused and really be locked in to that one shot. He was the reason why I started playing golf and why I wanted to be good to impress him.

“Looking at the tattoo is like a new pre-shot routine that I do now right before I’m about to hit it. I look at it and I’m like ‘don’t wait to do something.’ It’s something that will always stick and he means the world to me.”

Bennett was introduced to the game by his father, but remarked that the course “kind of looked like a cow pasture”. Nevertheless, he has flown through the ranks and says he is not simply content with collecting low amateur honours here.

Sam Bennett - Brooks Koepka leads Masters by three as falling trees suspend play - Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

Sam Bennett – Brooks Koepka leads Masters by three as falling trees suspend play – Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

“Everybody coming into the week was, yeah, hope you get Low Am. That’s pretty much all they were saying,” Bennett said.

“I just wanted to put two good rounds up. I knew my golf was good enough to compete out here. I found myself in a situation that now I’ve got a golf tournament that I can go out and win.

“I don’t have a pretty swing like some of the other amateurs. But I’ve done the right things this week. I was prepared. I was more experienced than the other guys, and yeah, I sit here with a chance to go on the weekend and do something special.”

Asked why he thought he could overhaul not only four-timer Koepka but also world No 3 Jon Rahm – who is on nine-under with nine holes of his second round to finish on Saturday morning – Bennett replied: “Because I know that my good golf is good enough.

“I think I am prepared. The hard work’s done. I made the cut as an amateur. I kind of made my mark. I played steady golf. Now it’s time for me to go out and enjoy, soak it all in, be able to play the weekend at the Masters.”

The Masters 2023, second round – as it happened

11:05 PM

We’ll be back tomorrow with coverage of the end of the Second Round and the Third

Current standings:

  • Brooks Koepka -12 (18)

  • Jon Rahm -9 (9)

  • Samuel Bennett -8 (18)

  • Collin Morikawa -6 (18)

  • Viktor Hovland -6 (10)

  • Jason Day -5 (18)

  • Jordan Spieth -5 (18)

  • Sam Burns -5 (18)

  • Cameron Young -5 (9)

  • Phil Mickelson -4 (18)

  • Adam Scott -4 (10)

  • Justin Rose -4 (18)

  • Gary Woodland -4 (18)

  • Shane Lowry -4 (13)

  • Russell Henley -4 (17)

  • Patrick Reed -4 (14)

  • Joaquin Niemann -4 (18)

10:57 PM

The statement in full

Augusta National Golf Club can confirm that no injuries were reported from three trees that were blown over to the left of the Nio.17 tee due to wind. The safety and well-being of everyone attending the Masters Tournament will always be the top priority of the Club, which will continue to closely monitor weather today and through the Tournament.

The Second Round has been officially suspended for the rest of the day. Play will resume Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m. EDT. Ticket gates will open at 7:00 a.m. EDT as scheduled.

10:48 PM

No injuries after three trees fell; play suspended for the rest of the day

10:36 PM

Rory McIlroy runs out of ideas for how to crack Augusta

A strange and sinister pathology comes over McIlroy now in his early Masters rounds, as if he feels suffocated by the burden of history pressing down. This was a course ripe for plunder, with barely a trace of morning wind, and receptive greens retaining their overnight moisture. And yet the four-time major champion seemed to be reprising his little-boy-lost act from 2011, when he threw away a four-shot Sunday lead with an infamous detour into the woods. He just looked resigned, bewildered, with the air of a man who had run out of ways to crack Augusta’s code.

Read Oliver Brown’s report after the world No 2 missed the cut and saw career Grand Slam hopes disappear after a ragged performance.

Rory McIlroy - Reuters/Mike Segar

Rory McIlroy – Reuters/Mike Segar

10:31 PM

Still no word on whether play has been called off for the day

We’ll update you as soon as we hear anything.

10:12 PM

Reports that no-one has been hurt after trees were blown over on the course

Trees falling - AP/Matt Slocum

Trees falling – AP/Matt Slocum

Trees fall on the course - Getty Images/Ross Kinnaird

Trees fall on the course – Getty Images/Ross Kinnaird

10:05 PM

McIlroy’s dreams of winning the Masters are over for another year after a disastrous second round

He shot a five-over 77. Jake Goodwill examines how his round of pain unfolded.

Rory McIlroy - Getty Images/Christian Petersen

Rory McIlroy – Getty Images/Christian Petersen

09:47 PM

Here is the dramatic moment a tree is blown over during play

09:43 PM

Trees have blown drown on the 17th hole at Augusta

Trees blown over - AP/Mark Baker

Trees blown over – AP/Mark Baker

Trees blown over - AP/Mark Baker

Trees blown over – AP/Mark Baker

Jon Rahm - Getty Images/Patrick Smith

Jon Rahm – Getty Images/Patrick Smith

09:31 PM

Sandy Lyle

Who is playing in his 42nd – and last – Masters, is forced to stop before taking his putt on the 18th. The Shrewsbury-born Scotsman, who won the tournament in 1988, is on +19.

Sandy Lyle - Getty Images/Christian Petersen

Sandy Lyle – Getty Images/Christian Petersen

09:23 PM


Again. The storms are coming back.

09:18 PM

Cam Smith’s eagle

09:17 PM

Cam Smith’s gone and eagled the 8th

He finds the bunker on the right side of the fairway off the tee before shaping a wonderful shot which uses the left-side bank on the edge of the green and manipulates the ball round the back of the pin before giving the ball a light touch to send it down the hill and into the hole. He moves to -2.

09:11 PM

The wind’s whipping up out there

And a bit of rain coming down again. It’s going to be a testing back nine for those still out there.

09:09 PM

Jon Rahm with a birdie on the ninth to move to -9

A birdie-birdie on the 8th and 9th to move into sole second.

09:05 PM

Jon Rahm joins Sam Bennett on -8 after a birdie on the 8th

His drive ended in the fairway bunker on the right, but he recovered well and put his third shot within five yards of the hole – which he followed up by tapping in confidently.

08:59 PM

Adam Scott with a birdie on the ninth

He moves to -4 after sinking a 10-yarder.

08:53 PM

Shane Lowry’s just missed a really good opportunity for a birdie on the 12th

He doesn’t read the right-to-left well enough and narrowly misses the left lip of the cup. He remains on -4.

Shane Lowry - AP/David J. Phillip

Shane Lowry – AP/David J. Phillip

Shane Lowry - Getty Images/Ross Kinnaird

Shane Lowry – Getty Images/Ross Kinnaird

08:48 PM

The course looks to be playing exactly as before the break

There wasn’t much rain at all so it remains an even contest with the greens and fairways running much the same.

08:47 PM

Woods is on the cut line at +2 after the front nine

His second shot on the 9th rolled back off the green, agonisingly close to staying on, but he shows us the Tiger magic by getting his chip to within a few inches of the hole. Take a bow.

08:42 PM

Fred Couples has just birdied the 15th

That puts him on -1. The 63-year-old is well on to make the cut – and for a record number of times.

08:36 PM

Jason Day speaks with Sky Sports

He was nine-under until the 15th where he picked up a double-bogey after finding the water and then got bogeys on both the 16th and 18th, finishing on -5 after two rounds.

It was fine. I played some good golf, just played absolutely terrible coming in. Putts on 16 and 18, thoroughly disappointed.

I need to go work on some stuff and then wake up tomorrow. With the weather coming in, who knows how the next few days are going to go.

Jason Day - Reuters/Mike Segar

Jason Day – Reuters/Mike Segar

08:32 PM

Woods begins play with an easy birdie putt

On the 8th par five. Even for the round and +2 for the tournament.

08:28 PM

There goes the klaxon

We’re back under way! Thankfully just a 20 minute break.

08:23 PM

The players are heading back out onto the course

It looks like everything is ok and the main part of the storm has passed.

Thomas Pieters - Getty Images/Ross Kinnaird

Thomas Pieters – Getty Images/Ross Kinnaird

08:10 PM


There’s the klaxon. Play suspended due to lightning risk at 3:07pm local time in Augusta.

08:08 PM

This from James Corrigan

Cannot see McIlroy making the cut on five-over after this 77, his worst score in the Masters for 29 rounds. The conditions were perfect. Baffling.

08:08 PM

Rory McIlroy has struggled all day and finishes with a bogey

He’s five over for the day and that means – failing a disaster from many players – he’ll miss the cut which is currently projected to be at +2.

08:07 PM

Sam Bennett speaks with Sky Sports

I went out there with the same game plan.

A lot of solid shots and put myself in a solid position. This is right where I want to be. I love pressure and I love nerves.

I’m ready for the weekend and found myself in a good spot. I like where I stand. I think I can [win]. You know, we’ll see. I’m playing really well and I think I’ve got what it takes to win.

Sam Bennett - AP/Charlie Riedel

Sam Bennett – AP/Charlie Riedel

07:54 PM

Brooks Koepka speaks with Sky Sports

Speed got a little sloppy there again. But I took advantage of the par fives and put in a five-under.

I feel my game is where it needs to be, and right where it should be. It just feels like it’s supposed to. I’m excited, ready to go over the next two days.

I’m very pleased, we got in with no rain. We’ll see how this afternoon goes, and then tomorrow.

Brooks Koepka - Getty Images/Patrick Smith

Brooks Koepka – Getty Images/Patrick Smith

07:51 PM

Bennett finshes on -8

The 23-year-old amateur has had another terrific day with five birdies and just one bogey. He’s in second place and is four behind four-time major winner Brooks Koepka.

07:48 PM

McIlroy misses his birdie putt on the 17th

He has to get a birdie on the 18th to have any chance of making the cut – but even that might not be enough if the cut is indeed -2.

07:43 PM

The Augusta patrons are out in force to watch five-time winner Woods

When you enter the premises, something miraculous happens: prices are so low, you feel you have gone back 25 years in time. A pimento cheese sandwich is $1.50 (£1.20). A packet of Georgia peach caramel popcorn is the same. A beaker of ice-cold beer is $5 (£4.02). Little wonder that the typical American golf lover, craving regular refreshment in the humidity, regards this place as akin to the Garden of Eden.

How does it really feel to be a Masters ‘patron’ holding golf’s hot ticket? Oliver Brown’s has a few thoughts for you here.

Tiger Woods and patrons - Getty Images/Patrick Smith

Tiger Woods and patrons – Getty Images/Patrick Smith

07:39 PM

McIlroy now on the 16th…

He goes long off the tee, landing on a sprinkler head off the back of the green. But then his approach chip is handled deftly, putting him within a couple of yards of the hole.

Oh he misses the putt! So it’s a bogey putting him back to +4. He needs threes on 17 and 18 if he wants to stay in this.

07:32 PM

McIlroy with an incredible second shot on the 15th… is the recovery on?

He’s bang centre off the tee and then his second is shaped beautifully to go within five yards of the hole. His eagle-putt is a little disappointing, stroking the right-edge of the cup, but he holds his nerve to get the birdie.

He’s now at +3 with three holes to play. The cut is still projected to be +2, but with the inclement weather predictions for the rest of this evening, it might creep up to +3. He might yet remain in Augusta over the weekend.

07:26 PM

A wild tee shot from Justin Rose on the 18th leaves him in the pine straw on the right

He nicks it out with his second and then recovers with his third to get within a few yards of the pin with a chance for a par putt…

But he misses and finishes with a bogey to end on -4.

07:13 PM

2020 champion Dustin Johnson moves to -2 after birdies on 16 and 17

07:03 PM

Day into the clubhouse on -5

He was the main chaser of Koepka for much the round but was rattled by his double-bogey on the 15th and followed that with a bogey on the 16th and another on the 18th after three-putting. Not vintage Day but he’s still in contention going into the weekend, seven off the pace.

06:56 PM

The clouds are gathering

It’s going to be a different sort of test out there as we head into the evening.

Clouds gather - Getty Images/Christian Petersen

Clouds gather – Getty Images/Christian Petersen

06:50 PM

Woods on the third

Tiger Woods and crowd - Getty Images/Patrick Smith

Tiger Woods and crowd – Getty Images/Patrick Smith

06:48 PM

Last year’s champion remains on -2

Scheffler pulls up short with his birdie putt on the 14th. Better off short than long from where he was at – there’s a chance of the ball cannoning away if going even just a foot past the hole.

06:39 PM

The amateur Sam Bennett moves second

He’s on -7 after a birdie on the 13th and overtakes Day who has bogeyed the 16th. An incredible first two days for the Texan who finished 49th in last year’s US Open. This is his first Masters tournament.

“Don’t wait to do something” is the tattoo on his arm – he’s living by that at Augusta after a 68 yesterday and now three-under for the round today.

06:33 PM

The last group is heading out

Last year’s Open Championship winner Cameron Smith (-2), the 2021 Masters winner Hideki Matsuyama (-1) and 2020’s runner-up Sungjae Im (-1) – some serious golfing calibre to bring up the rear.

06:26 PM

McIlroy’s fading fast…

He’s bogeyed the 11th after dragging his second shot into the water on the left. By the look on his face, he knew he’d hit that wrong as soon as it left his club face.

He takes the drop-penalty, lands around six yards from the hole for his fourth, and finishes for five. He’s now on +5 and in serious danger of missing the cut.

06:13 PM

Day hits the water! He drops to -7, five behind leader Koepka

Day has just duffed his ball into the water on the 15th following a tee shot which pulls to the left. He uses his second to lay himself up, but he fats his third, landing in the drink before two-putting.

06:05 PM

Koepka wraps up his round

He posts a 67 to finish on -12 after the first two rounds, three shots ahead of Day who still has three holes to play.

Brooks Koepka - Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

Brooks Koepka – Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

05:59 PM

Woods is off his mark, straight down the fairway off the tee on the 1st

Hovland takes out a three-wood and joins the five-times Masters winner.

Schauffele, though, heads into the woods on the left, urging the ball further left onto the fairway of the 9th, but it looks like he’s stuck under the trees there.

05:56 PM

Shane Lowry birdies the second

He moves to -5, seven off the lead.

05:52 PM

Woods is going through his final preparations

He’s due off at 5:54pm and is currently on +2, along with Hovland (-7) and Schauffele (-4).

05:47 PM

Fred Couples has sunk a monster putt

The 63-year-old birdies the sixth with a 15-yarder to put himself onto -2 – he’ll be making the cut at this rate.

05:44 PM

Woodland has moved to -4

He’s birdied the 17th, ramming the ball into the hole with conviction.

05:42 PM

Amateur Sam Bennet is riding high

He’s in joint fifth-place on -6 after birdies on the 8th and 9th.

05:40 PM

Jason Day with a sensational third shot on the 13th

The second bounce stops the ball in its tracks, leaving him just a couple of yards out and the chance for another birdie.

05:38 PM

Sepp Straka’s making a charge

The Austrian’s birdied three of his last four holes – including on the 12th. He’s on to -4 with three holes left in the round. It makes up for his back-to-back bogeys on the 9th and 10th.

Sepp Straka - Reuters/Mike Blake

Sepp Straka – Reuters/Mike Blake

05:33 PM

Scheffler picks up a double-bogey on the 9th

He can’t stay on the top shelf of the green with his second shot, rolling back down to the next tier. He gets within a couple of yards with his third, but then pulls his putt twice to slip to -2.

05:21 PM

Jason Day chipping in on the 11th

05:17 PM

Koepka cruises to -12 with a birdie on the 15th

He’s off into the distance and is crushing these par-fives with a birdie or better on every one of them today. He has a chance to separate himself from the chasing pack with this inclement weather due to arrive in the next couple of hours which will make it tough for the likes of Rahm, Hovland, Young and Scott who are yet to tee-off.

05:15 PM

Jason Day moves to -8, three shots off Koepka in the lead

He’s off the back-right of the green in two, but he crafts his third, a bump and run which rolls in and the crowd roar with delight as he enters Amen Corner.

05:11 PM

McIlroy moves to +4 after bogeying the 7th

He smoked his drive into the trees on the left, leaving him with a difficult approach from the earth beneath the trees. It means he can’t reach the green on his second, leaving him to lay up, landing on the green in three and two-putting.

He’s in major danger of missing the cut – which is currently projected at +2.

05:05 PM

Justin Rose with a birdie on the ninth

He sinks a 10 yard putt and goes into the back nine on -4 having birdied the second and bogeyed the third.

05:01 PM

Koepka going around Amen Corner earlier – he picked up a par here on the 12th

Koepka - Reuters/Mike Segar

Koepka – Reuters/Mike Segar

04:57 PM

Fitzpatrick misses his birdie putt on the par five 8th

It was a lovely approach shot leaving him two yards from the hole, but he pulls his putt to the left of the whole. He remains on -1.

04:46 PM

Koepka finally does find a birdie

It’s on the 13th. He drives to the left edge of the fairway, sends in an approach marginally long, just on the fridge. His eagle putt is a lag to about 2ft and he sinks it easily. The leader moves to -11, four clear of anyone else, though with Hovland and Rahm still to tee off.

04:42 PM

Jason Day back to -7 after a birdie

He birdies ninth to go into that pack directly behind Koepka. Schottie Sheffler steams a birdie putt well past the hole on the sixth. Probably another seven or eight feet to make par, which he does.

Morikawa’s birdie putt misses so he stays at -5 and in a tie for fifth. Tough one.

04:32 PM

McIlroy stops the rot with a par on the fourth

But then narrowly misses a birdie putt on the following hole. Hmmmm.

04:29 PM

Can Spieth stay at -4?

Spieth leaves his second on the fourth short and that is no guarantee for a par.

04:21 PM

Jason Day drops his first shot of the day

He bogeys the part five eighth to slip back to -6 for the tournament and -2 for the day.

Koepka misses, narrowly, another birdie putt and stays at -10. A couple of chances going begging for him in the last few holes.

04:05 PM

ANOTHER bogey for McIlroy

His chip up to the flag was decent if a little hard, leaving him barely three feet, but he lips out and it’s bogey-bogey as he moves to +2 and a whole 12 shots behind leader Koepka. Tournament over? Not just yet…

04:04 PM

It’s still going wrong for McIlroy

He chips his second to the third through the green and down the slope at the back… it was a big drive to within a yard or two of the green before rolling back a few yards and, quite frankly, he’s made a mess of it. He should make par from there, but it’s no guarantee…

03:56 PM

Koepka misses a chance

Koepka has given himself a short birdie putt on the 10th but he just underestimates the borrow and it sneaks past the left lip. Just a part and he stays at -10, the leader by three over Day, Hovland and Rahm.

03:51 PM

McIlroy going in the wrong direction

He makes a sixth on the par-five second to go to +1. A poor approach, long and left is followed by a poor chip that doesn’t even make the green and then two putts from there. Ouch. 11 shots off the lead now and falling out of contention already…

April 7, 2023 Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy reacts after hitting his approach on the 1st hole during the second round - REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

April 7, 2023 Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy reacts after hitting his approach on the 1st hole during the second round – REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

03:44 PM

Mickelson has moved back to even par

He double bogeyed the sixth after nearly driving the green… an absolute mess on the slope of the green.

Phil Mickelson hits from the bunker on the sixth hole during the second round of the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on Friday, April 7, 2023, in Augusta, Ga - AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Phil Mickelson hits from the bunker on the sixth hole during the second round of the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on Friday, April 7, 2023, in Augusta, Ga – AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

03:37 PM

Scheffler misses a birdie putt on the second

He stays at -3 for the tournament. McIlroy, meanwhile, has found the bunker with his drive on the par-five second. He plays out to give himself a better approach to the green.

03:25 PM

Can McIlroy begin with a birdie?

No. It’s a tough putt up the slop and leaves him a tap-in for par on the opening hole.

03:24 PM

Koepka eagles the eighth!

He moves to -10 for the tournament and -3 for the round, now leader by three clear shots.

03:24 PM

McIlroy has begun his round

His approach at the first isn’t quite close enough to grip onto the slope and he rolls back to around 25ft away from what would have been 15 or so. Tough to make birdie from there and he really needs a fair few of those today.

Augusta National Golf Club - Augusta, Georgia, U.S. - April 7, 2023 Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy hits his tee shot on the 1st hole during the second round as Sam Burns of the U.S. and South Korea's Tom Kim - REUTERS/Mike Segar

Augusta National Golf Club – Augusta, Georgia, U.S. – April 7, 2023 Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy hits his tee shot on the 1st hole during the second round as Sam Burns of the U.S. and South Korea’s Tom Kim – REUTERS/Mike Segar

03:18 PM

Scheffler back to -3

He bogeys the 10th. Koepka, meanwhile, has his second shot on the par-five eighth and it’s a good one! About 15-20ft right of the flag leaving him a half-decent chance to move into minus double figures.

03:13 PM

Koepka pars the seventh to stay at -8

Gary Woodland then holes a bogey putt on the same hole to go back to -3. Joaquin Niemann rolls an eagle putt on the third a few feet past, so that should see him move to -3 fairly easily.

02:59 PM

Another birdie for Day!

Laid well back with an iron on the short par four third, and was rewarded for that strategy. It left a day a full shot in with his second, and he dispatched the short iron to within three or four feet of the hole. Day joins Hovland and Rahm at seven-under.

02:52 PM

Excellent two putt from Koepka on the sixth

His tee shot on the par three was only a hair left of the back right pin, but caught the ridge in the middle of the green and rolled all the way back to the bottom level.

We have seen this putt roll back to players’ feet, but Koepka gives it enough speed to get up the hill and cleans up from five feet beyond the hole.

Keeps the lead at eight-under and a tricky hole ticked off.

02:47 PM

Birdie for Jason Day on the second…

Good to see Day healthy and contending in the majors again. The Australian has converted a birdie on the par five second to reach six-under, which is fourth on his own. Day has three top-five finishes at Augusta on his CV.

Jason Day of Australia walks up the first fairway with his caddie Luke Reardon - Getty Image/Andrew Redington

Jason Day of Australia walks up the first fairway with his caddie Luke Reardon – Getty Image/Andrew Redington

02:31 PM

Koepka still going steady…

Makes par on the tough par three fourth to remain in the lead at eight-under. His drive on the fifth is hugging the right side but finds the short grass, well clear of the cavernous bunkers on the left.

Koepka will be trying to consolidate on this difficult stretch of the course. If Koepka reaches the 13th tee eight-under he will be in a really strong position.

Brooks Koepka putts on the fourth hole during the second round of the Masters golf tournament - AP/Mark Baker

Brooks Koepka putts on the fourth hole during the second round of the Masters golf tournament – AP/Mark Baker

02:10 PM

Just a par for Koepka at the third…

And he will be grateful for that after a heavy-handed chip shot that was too strong to catch the slope that runs through the middle of the green.

That left him with a treacherous downhill pitch from beyond the green to the front pin, but he holed another substantial putt of 10 or 12 feet to retain the lead.

Koepka has squeezed the maximum out of his first three holes, but is he putting too much pressure on his putting?

02:04 PM

Cracking drive from Koepka on the third

Will not have much more than 50 yards for his second on this short par four. This is a good chance for another birdie.

Koepka looks to be stamping his authority on another manager.

01:56 PM

Koepka BIRDIE: Now leads on his own at eight-under

The bunker was a strong attempt from Koepka, fizzing all the way across the green to the front left section on the second.

It ran on some 10 feet past the hole, but Koepka holed the left-to-right coming back for a birdie on the par five.

Koepka’s putting from short range has been a weakness in his career, but his stroke looks solid.

Koepka leads the field at eight-under. Woodland also made his birdie at the second to reach five-under.

Brooks Koepka of the U.S. plays out from the bunker on the 2nd hole during the second round - Mike Blake/Reuters

Brooks Koepka of the U.S. plays out from the bunker on the 2nd hole during the second round – Mike Blake/Reuters

01:50 PM

Koepka’s approach to the second

He takes on the green in two with a healthy whack with fairway metal, but fans it out to the right and finds the front bunker.

With the pin front left, tucked behind the other trap, that’s quite a smart miss. Plenty of green to work with and an uphill bunker shot. Getting it far enough might the challenge.

If Koepka gets that up and down he will have the sole lead.

01:41 PM

Koepka on the second…

Par five this one, but Koepka opts for three-wood off the tee to keep himself short of the bunker at the corner of the dog leg.

Finds the short grass, but will have 273 yards in for his second from the top of the hill. With the change in elevation, he should be able to reach in two but will need a crisp strike.

01:37 PM

1985 and 1993 Masters champion Bernard Langer out early

The German is three-over for the tournament after a par at the first.

Bernhard Langer of Germany reacts to his putt on the first green - Getty Images/Christian Petersen

Bernhard Langer of Germany reacts to his putt on the first green – Getty Images/Christian Petersen

01:35 PM

Koepka holes a tester for par at the first…

He elected to chip from short and right of the first, and he left himself a good eight or 10 feet for par.

Uphill, so he could be aggressive with par putt, and he drained it to avoid dropping a shot on the opener. Sometimes a hard-working par is a bigger confidence boost than a seamless birdie on the first.

Alongside him, Gary Woodland also made par to stay four-under.

01:31 PM

Koepka has just tee off…

Nice opening drive down the left side of the first fairway, leaving a favourable angle to a back right pin.

Koepka had 167 yards in for his second, but stood back on his right side a touch. His approach leaks a little right and comes to rest on the fringe. Not disastrous but a tricky two-putt through a valley from there.

01:30 PM

Some of the notable early groups

1:18 pm – Danny Willett, Gary Woodland, Brooks Koepka

2:18 pm – Brian Harman, Joaquin Niemann, Tyrrell Hatton

2:36 pm– Dustin Johnson, Corey Conners, Justin Rose

2:48 pm – Matthew Fitzpatrick, Collin Morikawa

3:00 pm – Scottie Scheffler, Max Homa, Sam Bennett (A)

3:12 pm – Tom Kim, Rory McIlroy, Sam Burns

3:24 pm – Jordan Spieth, Tommy Fleetwood, Tony Finau

01:25 PM

Can McIlroy make a Friday morning charge?

Good afternoon and welcome to our live coverage of day two of the Masters with a leaderboard that is taking shape very nicely.

Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland and Brooks Koepka were the stars of Thursday, firing rounds of seven-under-par 65. Rahm’s was the most impressive of the three having started with a double bogey six on the first, meaning he played Augusta’s remaining 17 holes in a remarkable nine-under-par.

Koepka, who won the previous LIV Golf event in Orlando, showed why it was perhaps premature to throw that circuit’s form out of the window with another stellar round in a major. However, Koepka was involved in a strange rules controversy after the round when TV footage appeared to show his caddie Ricky Elliott telling Gary Woodland’s caddie that they had hit a five-iron into the par five 15th. It is a breach of the rules of golf to give advice to a competitor, and can carry a two-stroke penalty, but Koepka and Elliott denied giving advice and no further action was taken. You can read the full story here.

Hovland delivered a characteristically powerful display of driving, and perhaps delivered an answer to those who say his short game is inadequate for Augusta. His pitch on the high side of the 10th green was a delight.

It was another slow start at the Masters for Rory McIlroy at level-par, failing to take advantage of the calm conditions late on. He has a chance to make in-roads with an early tee time today, and he really needs a score close to the mid 60s to have a chance this weekend. The one thing in McIlroy’s favour is the dicey weather forecast, which could bring the volatility in scoring he needs to come from off the pace.

One of the day’s other sub-plots will be Tiger Woods’ battle to make the cut after a two-over 74

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