AUGUSTA, Ga. – Jon Rahm had two meaningful shots at the par 5s on the back nine Saturday morning, one for birdie and the other for par, that allowed him to cap off a 6-under 66 and join a five-way share of the lead after 36 holes at the Masters.
Tiger Woods remains in the mix with one birdie and seven pars to complete a 71, leaving him four shots behind. Bryson DeChambeau gets two more rounds after making the cut on the number, and then revealing he felt so shaky Thursday night that he had an additional test for the coronavirus.
As the sun broke through the clouds when the second round ended, it revealed a Masters that even without spectators was shaping up to be as exciting as always.
Ten players were separated by one shot going into the weekend, and 27 players were separated by five shots, a list that includes everyone from Woods and Phil Mickelson to Masters newcomers Abraham Ancer and C.T. Pan.
Rahm joined the lead pack at 9-under 135 with a wedge to 5 feet for birdie on the par-5 13th to resume his second round, but the next par 5 meant just as much.
With heavy morning air, dew on the ground and mud occasionally attaching itself to the golf ball, he chose to lay up and was immediately satisfied with his decision when the ball came off the club and traveled shorter than he imagined. But he overcooked his wedge and went over the green. His fourth shot didn't reach the putting surface.
Needing to get up-and-down for bogey, he chipped in for par to keep a clean card and join the others at 135 who finished their rounds on Friday — Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas, Ancer and Cameron Smith.
“It's not like you’re always trying to make it, but it’s the type of shot where I’m really just looking to start it on the right line and land it on the green, because that ball will get to the hole and hopefully finds it, and it did,” Rahm said of his par chip. “It was huge. A chip-in is always a huge boost of confidence.”
It was the second straight year there was a five-way share of the lead through 36 holes.
The cut was at even-par 144, a Masters record and a reflection of how rain has affected this Masters in November. It caused a delay of nearly three hours at the start of the tournament that caused the opening two rounds to need an extra day to finish, and it made Augusta National as vulnerable as ever.
Sixty players made the cut — it would have been 68 if the Masters still had the 10-shot rule — and it looked as though the third round would have no trouble finishing.
The record 36-hole score of 130 that Jordan Spieth posted in 2015 was never threatened. But a leaderboard has rarely been so bunched, leading to so many possibilities at the halfway point.
That included Woods, who won his fifth green jacket last year by coming from behind for the first time in a major. He didn't get the most out of his round. Woods holed a tough par putt at the 11th to resume his round, and wisely laid up on both par 5s when the morning conditions made the course feel longer than it was.
His only birdie came on the 15th when he laid up and hit wedge to about 12 feet below the cup.
“The golf course is playing long right now. The air is heavy. The ball is not really flying like it was yesterday,” Woods said.
Woods also pointed out the lack of wind, and the warm temperatures approaching 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.6 degrees Celsius) in the afternoon. That would make it even more difficult to dry out the course, even with the sub-air system, although the greens were getting faster.
Among those who missed the cut were Matt Kuchar and Henrik Stenson, along with Tyrrell Hatton, who has moved into the top 10 in the world but who has missed the cut in all three majors this year.
Still playing is Spieth, just barely. He was on the cut line when he resumed, missed good birdie chances on the 15th and 16th holes and then hit a tree off the 18th tee and the green to the left. His chip just crawled onto the green, and Spieth poured in a 12-footer for par. That gave him a 70 and a Saturday tee time for the former Masters champion.
DeChambeau also made the cut on the number, but that was with bogeys on his last two holes for a 74. He complained of a stomach issue and some dizziness and overall was not feeling great.
“It just seems like there’s a lot of things going not in the right way,” he said.