Sergio Garcia’s career-long quest to win a major championship took a turn for the good on Friday, when his three-under par 69 gave him a share of the 36-hole lead in the Masters.
Garcia, 37 and playing his 74th major, began his round with birdies on the first three holes at Augusta National Golf Club.
Charley Hoffman, whose electrifying round of 65 on Thursday had given him a four-stroke lead, shot 10 strokes worse in the second round, a 75 that still allowed him to share the lead with Garcia, Rickie Fowler and Thomas Pieters of Belgium.
Fowler, 28 and eighth in the World Ranking, had the best round of the day, a five-under par 67 that included an eagle at the second hole and four birdies. In 2014, Fowler tied for fifth in the Masters and finished in the top five in all four majors.
Pieters, who went 4-1 for the European Ryder Cup team last fall, shot a four-under 68 that included an eagle at the 13th hole.
William McGirt, one of the feel-good stories of the week, shot a 73 to remain in contention in his Masters debut. He is at two-under 142, two off the lead.
“I guess the good thing for me is I don’t have any negative experiences to look back on,” McGirt said.
Fred Couples, meanwhile, is in contention going into the weekend. Couples, 57, the 1992 Masters champion, shot a two-under par 70 and is tied for seventh, three back.
“If I’m healthy enough to swing hard at it I can play this course, and for two days I’ve done well,” Couples said. “It’s very odd. I putt very well here. I can see the lines. I have to make some putts tomorrow to hang with these guys tomorrow.”
Jordan Spieth shot a three-under 69 to get back to even par. He is tied for 10th, four behind the leaders.
Defending champion Danny Willett missed the cut.