Hoffman, top rivals set for early Masters charge at Augusta - Times LIVE
   
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Fri Apr 28 10:25:32 SAST 2017

Hoffman, top rivals set for early Masters charge at Augusta

AFP | 2017-04-07 15:10:54.0
Charley Hoffman waves as he finishes his first round play during the 2017 Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, U.S., April 6, 2017.
Image by: MIKE SEGAR / REUTERS

Unheralded leader Charley Hoffman and nearest rival William McGirt were ready for a morning charge as Friday's second round of the Masters began in cool and breezy conditions at Augusta National.

Hoffman birdied five of the last seven holes, including four in a row starting at the par-4 14th, in windy conditions to shoot a seven-under par 65 in Thursday's opening round.

That gave him a four-stroke edge on fellow American McGirt, the largest 18-hole lead at the Masters since Jack Burke's four-shot margin over Julius Boros in 1955.

McGirt, playing in his first Masters, was off in the first group on the course Friday with Hoffman scheduled to tee off two hours later after what he expected to be an uncertain night's rest.

"Will I sleep well? Probably not," Hoffman admitted Thursday. "Obviously going to sleep on the lead at a major championship is not going to be the easiest thing. I look forward to it and I look forward to the challenge the next three days."

Hoffman, who booked his fourth Masters start by winning last year's PGA Texas Open, shared ninth at Augusta National in 2015 for his best showing in 22 major starts and was solid with his putter.

"I was in spots where I had good looks and I was able to make a few putts," he said. "The putter is going my way now and hopefully I'll keep it going."

England's 43-year-old Lee Westwood, trying to capture his first major title after 75 prior attempts, was third on 70 and set to tee off in the group after Hoffman.

A pack of eight were next on the leaderboard at 71, including England's Justin Rose, the reigning Olympic champion and 2013 US Open winner, and countrymen Andy Sullivan and Matthew Fitzpatrick.

Also in the one-under logjam was Spain's Sergio Garcia, still looking for his first major crown in his 74th major start.

And there was also Phil Mickelson, a five-time major champion. At two months shy of his 47th birthday, the US left-hander would become the oldest winner in Masters history if he captures a fourth green jacket on Sunday.

Also on 71 were Americans Russell Henley, the last qualifier for the Masters thanks to a victory last week at Houston; Kevin Chappell, a runner-up last year at the Players Championship, Tour Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational; and Jason Dufner, the 2013 PGA Championship winner.

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