Saturday 24 February 2018

Danny Willett continues to struggle while Rory McIlroy climbs the leaderboard on Day Two of The Masters

Danny Willett of England talks with caddie Jonathan Smart before making a triple bogey on the first hole during the second round of the 2017 Masters. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Danny Willett of England talks with caddie Jonathan Smart before making a triple bogey on the first hole during the second round of the 2017 Masters. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Phil Casey

Defending champion Danny Willett suffered more misery on the opening hole at Augusta National as Rory McIlroy moved in the other direction on the leaderboard at the 81st Masters.

Willett, who has struggled for consistent form since claiming his first major title 12 months ago, carded a double bogey on the 445-yard first on Thursday and was three over par after two holes before battling back to shoot 73.

That was good enough for a share of 19th place on a day when strong winds made scoring difficult, but all of the good work was swiftly undone when play resumed in similar conditions on Friday.

From an awkward stance on the edge of a fairway bunker, Willett shanked his second shot into the trees, from where he executed a good escape shot which ran just off the left-hand side of the green.

His first chip then failed to climb a steep slope and rolled back down to his feet, while his next attempt was hit too hard and rolled across the putting surface and off the front of the green.

The 29-year-old then chipped to six feet and two-putted for a demoralising quadruple-bogey eight, before dropping another shot by three-putting the fourth.

Willett did manage to birdie the 10th for the second day running, but promptly three-putted the 11th to lie six over par, two shots outside the projected cut.

The last defending champion to miss the cut was Canada's Mike Weir in 2004.

At the top of the leaderboard, overnight leader Charley Hoffman had initially carried on where he left off following a brilliant opening 65, the 40-year-old moving five clear with a birdie on the second.

However, Hoffman then carded a hat-trick of bogeys from the sixth to drop back to five under, just two shots ahead of Spain's Sergio Garcia.

Garcia, who was the only player to manage a bogey-free opening round, had birdied the first three holes before dropping his first shot of the week on the fourth.

McIlroy had bogeyed the first for the second day in succession, which possibly accounted for the wind-assisted 393-yard drive which he then smashed down the second.

That set up a straightforward birdie on the par five and although the four-time major winner then three-putted the third, he responded with birdies on the fifth and sixth to revitalise his bid for the victory he needs to complete the career grand slam.

American William McGirt had set the early clubhouse target on two under par after adding a 73 to his opening 69.

Hoffman, who had duffed his third shot to the par-five eighth, also bogeyed the 10th and 11th to allow Garcia to take the outright lead after a birdie on the ninth.

Garcia, who is playing his 71st consecutive major, promptly bogeyed the 10th to fall back alongside Hoffman on three under, with McIlroy carding his third bogey of the day on the ninth to be level par.

Hoffman's collapse could at least be good news for the likes of Willett, who remained six over with three to play. The top 50 players and ties, plus anyone within 10 of the lead, will make the cut.

Press Association

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