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Thursday, January 21, 2021

The Latest from the Masters: Couples should make cut, Spieth struggles early

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — The Latest on Friday’s second round of the Masters (all times local):

2:50 p.m.

Fred Couples is likely going to make the cut at the Masters for the 30th time, which would tie Gary Player for the second most in tournament history.

Only six-time Masters champion Jack Nicklaus (30) made more cuts at Augusta National.

Couples, the 1992 Masters champion, shot a 2-over 74 in the second round Friday. He rallied after a tough stretch on the back nine, making three birdies in four holes to get back to even. He limped home with bogeys on two of the final three holes.

Still, it ended up being a solid day for the golfer nicknamed “Boom Boom.”

The projected cutline is 5 over, making Couples’ weekend stay almost a certainty.

Couples and Player hold the record of consecutive cuts made (23) at the Masters. Couples made every cut from 1982 through 2007.


1:40 p.m.

On a day when the wind has picked up and scores are rising, Matt Kuchar is holding a share of the lead at the Masters.

Seeking his first major title, Kuchar made the turn with a 1-over score in the second round to remain at 3 under for the day. He is tied with Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger and Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello, along with four other players who had late tee times: Henrik Stenson of Sweden, Canada’s Adam Hadwin and Americans Patrick Reed and Charley Hoffman.

First-round leader Jordan Spieth is struggling. He got off to a terrible start, making a double bogey at the first hole and a bogey at the second, before dropping another shot with a bogey at No. 7. He is now part of the group at 2 under, which also includes Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy.

Phil Mickelson was also in the mix until a triple-bogey 7 at the ninth dropped him to 1 over.

Tiger Woods is just teeing off in one of the final groups of the day. He opened with a 73 and is now just four shots off the lead.


12:45 p.m.

Fred Couples dropped four shots in two holes to start the back nine at Augusta National on Friday, ruining what was otherwise a solid second round at the Masters.

He bounced back with a birdie at No. 12 to get to 2 over for the tournament.

He was looking good for much of the round before struggling during a two-hole stretch.

Couples pulled his approach shot left of the green at the par-4 10th and followed that with a not-so-stellar chip. He missed an 18-footer from the fringe for par.

The 58-year-old Couples, the 1992 Masters champion, really struggled at the start of Amen Corner.

His tee shot at No. 11 rattled between some pine trees left. He pushed his second shot way right, about three rows deep into the galley, and then chipped through the green and into the water. He dropped from there, chipped to 12 feet, missed that and settled for a triple bogey. It was his first triple of the tournament.

Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth and five others remain in a seven-way tie for the lead at 3 under.


11:55 a.m.

Jordan Spieth is missing fairways and struggling with his putter.

Spieth opened the second round of the Masters with a double-bogey and a bogey, squandering a two-shot lead. Spieth pushed his first drive way right and pulled his next one well left.

Spieth also missed putts of 11 and 5 feet. And that’s after needing just 10 putts on the back nine Thursday.

Spieth went from 6 under to 3 under through two holes Friday.

He is now in a seven-way tie for the lead at 3 under.


11:30 a.m.

Jordan Spieth is off to a shaky start in the second round at the Masters.

Spieth double-bogeyed the first hole to drop to 4 under in the 72-hole tournament.

Spieth pushed his tee shot at the par-4 No. 1 way right. He failed to get his second shot back to the fairway and then left his third one short of the green. He missed an 11-footer for bogey. It was a frustrating start for the 2015 Masters champion and opened the door for everyone else on the leaderboard.

Spieth birdied five straight holes down the stretch in the opening round and finished with a 6-under 66. He bogeyed the par-4 18th.


10:55 a.m.

First-round leader and 2015 Masters champion Jordan Spieth is back on the course at golf’s first major.

Spieth took a two-stroke lead to the first tee at Augusta National on Friday. Spieth is playing with Alex Noren and Louis Oosthuizen for the second straight day.

Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar are among the featured groups teeing off in the morning. Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott and Jon Rahm are right behind that threesome.

Webb Simpson could be making a move with consecutive birdies at the second and third holes. He is now 2 over after shooting a 76 in the opening round.


9:30 a.m.

Li Haotong has begun his second round at the Masters.

The 22-year-old from China opened the day three shots off the lead after finishing with a 69 on the first day of the tournament. For close to an hour, his name was atop those white leaderboards around Augusta National with Tony Finau until Jordan Spieth took over.

Li qualified for the Masters by closing with a 63 at Royal Birkdale in the British Open last summer. Earlier this year, he rallied to beat Rory McIlroy in a duel at the Dubai Desert Classic that allowed him to crack the top 50 in the world for the first time.

Li entered the week at No. 42 in the world.


3 a.m.

Rory McIlroy heads into the second round of the Masters with the career Grand Slam still in sight.

McIlroy saved par on the final three holes in the opening round Thursday and finished with a 3-under 69. He broke 70 in the first round at Augusta National for the first time since 2011. He shot a 65 that year and looked like he would win a green jacket before a final-round meltdown.

McIlroy is three shots behind Jordan Spieth, who made five consecutive birdies on the back nine to build a two-stroke lead over Tony Finau and Matt Kuchar.

“You look at it and not anyone is really getting away,” McIlroy said. “Jordan had a pretty strong finish there. But this is my best start in a few years. And, yeah, it’s such a hard golf course to play catch-up on. If you start to chase it around here, that’s when you start to make mistakes.

“But to be right up there and have the ability to stay patient because of the position I’m in, that’s a nice luxury I have over the next few days.”

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