Do not take your eyes off these gamers on the jam-packed Masters leaderboard


AUGUSTA, Georgia — Defending Masters champion Dustin Johnson will not be round for the weekend at Augusta Nationwide Golf Membership after lacking the minimize. Neither will four-time main winners Brooks Koepka or Rory McIlroy.

However after England’s Justin Rose got here again to the sector a bit of bit in Friday’s second spherical, there nonetheless figures to be a lot drama on Saturday, when situations are anticipated to be drier and extra windy.

Listed here are eight gamers to observe heading into the third spherical:

Justin Rose
The Englishman carried a 4-shot lead into the second spherical and practically misplaced it after making 4 bogeys on the primary 9. Nevertheless, he battled again with three birdies on the second 9 (after carding six within the opening spherical) and settled for an even-par 72.

“I feel it was only a traditional day at Augusta Nationwide while you’re simply barely off,” Rose stated. “You is usually a foot or two out on sure events and you find yourself struggling. … I form of advised myself going up the eighth gap, ‘You are main the Masters, your body of reference is a bit of bit completely different to [Thursday’s first round]. 4 forward is one thing, however you are still main, so, like, simply take pleasure in it and preserve going.'”

Can Rose preserve gutting it out and end what he began? He does not have an amazing monitor report of closing the deal at Augusta Nationwide, and his issues have sometimes been on the weekends.

It’s the sixth time Rose has a minimum of shared a lead on the Masters, third most in historical past behind Arnold Palmer (9) and Jack Nicklaus (eight). After all, Jack and Arnie mixed to win a inexperienced jacket 10 occasions. Rose continues to be trying to find his first.

Will Zalatoris
Since Horton Smith and Gene Sarazen received the primary two editions of the Masters in 1934 and 1935, respectively, one first-timer has received a inexperienced jacket — Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.

Zalatoris, a PGA Tour rookie, has put himself in critical competition with opening rounds of 70 and 68. He had birdies on the final three holes to seize a spot alongside Rose within the closing group on Saturday. He’s considered one of solely 5 gamers who has shot below par in each rounds thus far. Simply a few years in the past, Zalatoris practically gave up his dream of turning into knowledgeable participant whereas struggling at Wake Forest. This weekend, he’ll try and change into the primary participant to win the Masters with out first successful a PGA or European Tour occasion since Claude Harmon in 1948.

“I wished to be right here my total life,” Zalatoris stated. “Some folks draw back from that, however I am excited to be right here. I’ve wished to be right here perpetually. There is not any motive to really feel intimidated now. I made it to right here. Clearly, the job isn’t completed by any means, however I feel standing on the primary tee and listening to your identify known as, that is one thing that each child desires of.”

Jordan Spieth
Coming off his first victory in practically 4 years on the Valero Texas Open, the 2015 Masters champion is again in competition once more after a 4-under 68 put him in a tie for fourth, 2 pictures behind Rose.

In response to analysis from ESPN Stats & Data, every of the earlier 4 occasions that Spieth was inside the highest 5 after 36 holes on the Masters, he completed within the high three.

Spieth stated he is anticipating a “unstable” third spherical due to Augusta Nationwide’s agency greens and forecasted winds of 10 to twenty mph, which he says go well with his recreation higher than most.

“I am blissful that the golf course has the chance to play increasingly more tough over the weekend,” he stated. “I feel that personally I am trying ahead to that form of problem, and I feel that may very well be a bonus to me if I am answerable for the ball.”

Justin Thomas
Thomas, 27, has already received 14 occasions on the PGA Tour and has been among the best gamers on this planet for fairly some time. Nevertheless it certain looks as if he ought to have a couple of main, the 2017 PGA Championship, to point out for it.

JT says he loves Augusta Nationwide and believes it is a spot the place he will win in some unspecified time in the future — and do it a number of occasions.

Even after a three-putt bogey on 18 on Friday left him 3 pictures behind Rose, Thomas nonetheless appears like one of many favorites.

“I can not fear about what anyone else is doing,” Thomas stated. “I do know that I’ve confidence in myself, and I do know that I’ve gotten it completed at excessive ranges and excessive phases earlier than. However I will need to beat plenty of good gamers to do it. I simply have to get in my very own little zone and my very own little recreation, and I really feel like, if I do this effectively, I ought to have a reasonably good probability.”

Tony Finau
Finau, 31, has only one PGA Tour victory on his résumé — it got here greater than 5 years in the past on the opposite-field Puerto Rico Open — however he retains knocking on the door, even at majors.

Two years in the past, Finau fired a third-round 66 on the Masters to play within the Sunday grouping with Tiger Woods. He completed in a tie for fifth as Woods went on to win.

After a 6-under 66 on Friday, which included an eagle on No. 2 and 6 birdies, he is solely 3 again from Rose.

Finau has been runner-up in eight tour occasions since his solely victory.

“It retains me hungry, it retains me humble, and I positively know that I positively want an enormous win for me to really feel like I’ve had a great profession up so far,” he stated. “I’ve had plenty of shut calls, and I do suppose I’ve had a very profitable profession, however not fairly a successful profession. I feel that comes from successful an enormous one.”

Cameron Champ
He hits it far. The 2-time tour winner completed tied for nineteenth in his first Masters begin in November. Now, after a 4-under 68 on Friday, he is within the combine and solely 3 pictures behind Rose as effectively.

Champ’s efficiency was utterly surprising based mostly on how he has performed this season. His solely top-10 end in 13 tour occasions was on the Zozo Championship in October. He missed the minimize in 5 of his earlier seven begins. His finest end this 12 months was a tie for thirty first on the Event of Champions in early January.

He is main the Masters discipline in driving distance (333.8 yards) and he has hit 21 of 28 fairways thus far.

Whereas Bryson DeChambeau has toyed with utilizing a 48-inch driver at Augusta Nationwide to get extra size, Champ makes use of one that’s 43¼ inches, which is about two inches shorter than the usual size.

“I hit it a lot far. I am not attempting to get the rest out of it,” Champ stated. “To me, when you begin doing that you simply’re simply going to hit it in all places and never be capable to management it. … That is simply how I play. That is how I play the sport. I am not going to regulate it based mostly on if different individuals are hitting it additional or if I really feel like I have to hit it additional.”

Bryson DeChambeau
A 12 months in the past, DeChambeau boasted that he deliberate to play Augusta Nationwide as a par-67 course as a result of he was hitting his tee pictures thus far.

After ending in a tie for thirty fourth, he appears to have come to his senses.

“Clearly, the par was 74 for me final 12 months,” he stated.

It was really 4-over 76 within the first spherical on Thursday. However then he bounced again with a 5-under 67 within the second spherical and gave himself a puncher’s probability on the weekend.

“I do not suppose you may ever determine this place out,” he stated. “There’s so many issues happening round right here. The wind makes it diabolical. It is flying round by means of these timber and bouncing off the timber and making it really feel into the wind when it must be downwind — and vice versa. I do not suppose you will ever be capable to determine it out, however I’ve simply bought to be extra snug.”

DeChambeau admits he is not as snug right here with out the greens books and calibration instruments that he’s accustomed to utilizing.

“It is my largest match for certain,” he stated. “It is positively a take a look at and one thing I am keen to face as much as and try to face the problem and try to conquer it. It is an attention-grabbing problem for me — and I adore it.”

Xander Schauffele
Schauffele is arguably essentially the most proficient participant with no main championship victory. It is not that he hasn’t been shut. He has seven top-10s in majors throughout his profession, together with top-six finishes in every of his U.S. Open begins.

The four-time tour winner completed tied for second behind Woods on the 2019 Masters and tied for seventeenth in November. He is again in competition once more at 3 below, 4 pictures behind Rose.

“I attempt to be well-rounded, and main championships require all components of your recreation to form of click on and run for the week,” Schauffele stated. “So most likely credit score it to that. Nevertheless it’s simply extra enjoyable. Not that standard tournaments aren’t enjoyable, however there isn’t any strain. You may inform everyone seems to be extra critical [at majors] and everybody simply needs to win greater than the following man.”

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