Patrick Reed soars to top of star-packed Masters leaderboard

Patrick Reed soars to top of star-packed Masters leaderboard

Back down to any European in skinny-cut golf trousers.

The Australian was faced with a shot of 210 yards to the hole, a pond waiting to gobble up anything that landed short of the green, as well as a slight headwind at Augusta National.

As well as Reed has performed in the Ryder and Presidents Cups for the US side, his record on the Grand Slam stage has not reached the same heights. With the cut likely to fall around 3-over or 4-over, Sharma will necessarily need to shoot under par in the second round to stay on.

His brash fist-pumping and gesturing during the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine drew plenty of criticism, particularly during a contentious match with McIlroy when Reed taunted European fans by bringing his finger to his mouth telling them to shush.

The world number 24 responded by sinking a clutch 9-foot par putt at 17 and parring 18, where he missed a 10-foot birdie chance.

Halftime at the Masters, which is the flawless time to reassess and realize how stupid we all are for trying to predict what will happen at Augusta.

Reed doesn't have a major.

Conspicuously absent from that pack was 14-time major-winner Tiger Woods, whose bid to produce a "special weekend" was derailed nearly immediately on Saturday as he opened with back-to-back bogeys.

Woods, back at Augusta for the first time in three years, hit 4-of-14 fairways but said his real problem continued to be poor iron play.

It was for Reed his best-ever Masters round, by a whopping four strokes.

"Even though I'm a lot behind, if I play a special weekend - shoot two rounds in the mid-60s - you never know", he said.

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Saturday is generally regarded as "moving day", but Friday provided enough ups and downs on the leader board to make me think round 3 will be tame by comparison.

The Augusta fireworks began when McIlroy hit an aggressive chip from 28 yards right of the eighth green that had more pace than he would have liked, but the ball crashed into the flagstick and dropped into the hole for an eagle to move him into a share of the lead. Just as the Masters is usually won by the player who can read the subtle breaks of the greens, the tournament is often lost by those who land their approaches in the wrong spots. When he returned as a pro, he played it like he was a stranger. Today I made a double-breaker putt there and it just gave me a lot of confidence.

Henrik Stenson is outright fifth, while Tommy Fleetwood surged up the leaderboard with a 66, leaving him tied with Bubba Watson at six under.

There are two facts that say it all for how Reed has managed this lead, beyond whatever intangible understanding he has forged. And he is eight-for-eight on birdies on the par 5s.

"The par 5s are huge around here to be able to pick up ground on", Reed said.

The only other difference between making a bunch of birdies on a course ripe for low scores was those pesky putts.

Not everyone was quite so flush.

Three-times victor Phil Mickelson was also unable to gain any ground as he followed an opening triple-bogey with a bogey at the second en route to a disappointing two-over par 74 that left him at seven over on the week. It was the kind of opening chapter that only Stephen King could love.

He carded a 13 on the hole after going 4-under on No. 15 and doing no worse than par during his four rounds previous year.

MATT KUCHAR (-1): Love him.