By Andrew Both
AUGUSTA - Americans Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas harnessed new precision to play their way into contention in the second round of the Masters on Friday, finishing the day fourth and sixth, respectively.
Justin Rose maintained his lead through the midway point of 2021's first major, remaining at 7-under par 137 with an even-par 72 in the second round when he went into attack mode against the legendary Augusta National course.
Spieth (68), who on Sunday cracked a nearly four-year winless streak at TPC San Antonio, struggled to tame the blustery Augusta National in the first round, but reclaimed his nerve Friday, ending the day two back from leader Rose.
"Mine feels like steady progress," the 2015 Masters champion told reporters.
"I wish that it felt like everything led into peaking here, but I'm just trying to honestly have things just move 5% closer than they did last week to structurally being where I am in the swing, and I'm putting some very average swings on it, and I'm putting some good ones on it still."
The 27-year-old, who drained a 30-foot putt for birdie on the par-four 17th, shared the fourth spot on the leaderboard with Australian Marc Leishman.
World No 2 Thomas (67) heads into Saturday's action three strokes back from Rose in a six-way tie after hitting 16 greens Friday, four more than his first-round effort produced.
A three-putt bogey on the par-four 18th was the only blemish on his day.
"Once the greens were as firm as they were yesterday, you need to be able to work it and have some different spins on the ball to get it close to the holes," said Thomas, 27. "Today it was soft enough that you could get it close and make some birdies. It definitely helps.
"I mean, you just very rarely have a flat, level, even lie without a crosswind out here."
The pair advanced as a number of top players, including world number one and last year's champion Dustin Johnson, were sent packing.
As the field of 88 was reduced to 54 for the weekend, notable players who failed to reach the 3-over cut line were defending champion Johnson (5-over), 2017 champion Sergio Garcia of Spain (4-over), four-time major winners Brooks Koepka (5-over) and Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy (6-over), and 2007 Masters winner Zach Johnson (7-over).
Also headed home were Matt Kuchar (4-over) and England's Lee Westwood (5-over).