Sergio Garcia hits out of a bunker on the 12th hole during the second round of the Masters on Friday. Photo: Mike Segar, Reuters

AUGUSTA, Georgia – Sergio Garcia made a red-hot start to the US Masters second round to boost his hopes of a maiden major title, while Charley Hoffman’s overnight lead dwindled after a trio of bogeys on Friday.

The players were greeted by sunny skies, but chilly and windy conditions at Augusta National made for another challenging scoring day at the year’s first major.

Garcia, who has never finished higher than eighth at Augusta and started the day six shots behind Hoffman, made an early surge with birdies at the first three holes, before giving back a stroke at the par-3 fourth.

The 37-year-old Spaniard picked up another shot at the ninth to reach the turn in 2-under 33, bringing him to 4-under for the tournament and only one shot back of Hoffman.

Hoffman, who made nine birdies in a brilliant opening round to lead a major for the first time, appeared in control as he birdied the second, but he fell apart with a three-hole stretch of bogeys starting at the par-3 sixth.

William McGirt, who started the day alone in second place and four shots behind Hoffman, offset two bogeys with a pair of birdies before dropping another shot at the 18th to slip to 2-under.

Defending champion Danny Willett got his round off to a miserable start by firing a quadruple-bogey eight. Barring a turnaround over his final five holes, Willett appears likely to miss the cut.

World No 2 Rory McIlroy, the highest-ranked player in the field after Dustin Johnson withdrew on Thursday, chipped in at the par-3 sixth to get to 1-under for the day.

The Northern Irishman, who needs a win this week to complete the collection of golf’s four major titles, had two birdies and two bogeys over his opening five holes before settling down.

Among the later starters were three-times champion Phil Mickelson, Australian Jason Day, American Jordan Spieth and Olympic champion Justin Rose.