Brooks Koepka was getting comfortable in the clubhouse with a three-stroke lead over Jon Rahm of Spain when the second weather stoppage of the day halted play for good on Thursday in the second round of the 87th Masters at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga.
Koepka, completely recovered from a knee injury that hampered him in recent years, played early in the day before the rains came, shooting a brilliant, bogey-free 5-under-par 67 that featured a 13-foot eagle putt on the eighth hole, while Rahm was two-under for nine holes when the end came.
Rahm, Koepka and Viktor Hovland of Norway shared the first-round lead at 65, and now everybody is looking up at Koepka, who posted a 36-hole score of 12-under 132 with only a single bogey on the 13th hole in round one.
“It was really solid,” said Koepka, who has won two U.S. Opens (2017-18) and two PGA Championships (2018-19), but his seeking his first Masters title. “I didn’t really do too much wrong. I feel really good. I like the way I’m swinging the golf club, putting it, chipping it, driving it, the iron play is solid. I got incredibly lucky with my tee time this week, that’s for sure.
“I don’t think I’m far off at all (from his old form). I mean, I’ve got a completely different knee, so the normal is a little bit different. But swing-wise, it still feels the same. I’m able to do everything I need to. And the confidence is there. The confidence was lost just because of my knee and that was it.
“The whole goal is to win the Grand Slam, right? I feel like all the greats have won here, and they have all won British Opens as well. Look, I guess it’s one more box for me to tick to truly feel like I’ve done what I should have accomplished in this game.”
The third-ranked Rahm, who has bounced back from a double-bogey 6 on his first hole of the tournament, tried to stay close to Koepka by starting the second round with seven straight pars before he made birdies on the eighth and ninth holes.
But then the weather halted his momentum, at least for now.
“It’s just hard to say what’s going to happen, right,” said Rahm, whose only major victory came in the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines South in La Jolla. “Every time we’ve had bad weather here, when it’s as warm as it is, it’s usually a thunderstorm, so we’re not really playing. But when it comes and goes through, it softens up the golf course and it gets a little more score-able.”
Amateur Sam Bennett, a senior at Texas A&M who captured the 2022 U.S. Amateur Championship, made five birdies in a second straight 68 and is four shots back in solo third, while Collin Morikawa of La Canada, who has slipped to No. 12 in the world, had three birdies on the front nine in a second 69 and is two more down in a tie for fourth with the ninth-ranked Hovland, who was one-over without a birdie through 10 holes.
Jason Day of Australia, the 2015 PGA champion, made a double-bogey and two bogeys late in a 72 and is seven strokes behind in a tie for sixth with three-time major champion Jordan Spieth, who finished with 10 straight pars in a 70, Sam Burns, who had two birdies on each nine in a 71, and Cameron Young, the 2021-22 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, who was even through nine holes.
Three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson posted a three-under-par 69 and is eight shots back in a huge tie for 10th with 2019 U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland, who totaled 72, Joaquin Niemann of Chile, who collected seven birdies in a 69, and 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose of England, who finished at 71.
Also in the tie for 10th are 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed, who is three-under through 13 holes, 2013 Masters winner Adam Scott of Australia, who is even through 10, 2019 Open champion Shane Lowry of Ireland, who is even through 13, and Russell Henley, who is a bogey-free seven-under through 17 holes.
Sixth-ranked Cameron Smith of Australia, the 2022 Open champion, is two-under through eight and in a tie for 22nd that includes ninth-ranked Justin Thomas, who is two-under through nine; while top-ranked Scottie Scheffler, the defending champion, struggled to a 75 with only one birdie and is in a tie for 29th that includes seventh-ranked Xander Schauffele, who is three-over through 10; and fifth-ranked Max Homa of Valencia and Cal finished at 73 and is in a tie for 38th that includes fourth-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA, who was one-over through 10 holes.
Second-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, who needs a Masters victory to complete the Career Grand Slam, stumbled to a score of 72-77—149 and will miss the cut, while five-time Masters champion Tiger Woods is even-par through 11 holes and right inside the cutline.
The wet weather caused two large trees to fall near the 17th tee, but no injuries were reported. More inclement weather is forecast for the weekend.
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