Poulter and Molinari charge into Masters lead


AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) – Englishman Ian Poulter and Italy’s Francesco Molinari charged into the midway second-round lead at the Masters on Friday after overnight pacesetters Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka endured turbulent outward nines.

FILE PHOTO:Brooks Koepka of the U.S. hits off the 4th tee during first round play of the 2019 Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, U.S., April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

British Open champion Molinari, who began the day four shots back of the overnight leaders, carded four birdies through an error-free 12 holes at an overcast Augusta National to move to six-under.

Poulter, playing in his 60th major and chasing a first title, opened with a bogey but hit back with three birdies including two through Amen Corner at 12 and 13.

DeChambeau and Koepka were both punished by double bogeys.

After a bogey-free opening round, Koepka had two in his opening six holes on Friday, along with a double at the second.

They were offset by two birdies to leave him one back on five-under, alongside Australian Jason Day.

DeChambeau had worked his way through the turn clinging to a one-shot lead, but saw it all come undone with a double bogey at the 10th.

That dropped him to four-under and into a group that includes Dustin Johnson, Patton Kizzire and Phil Mickelson, who is playing in his 100th round at the Masters.

World number one Justin Rose, who opened with a disappointing 75, got to work quickly rolling in birdies on his first two holes, matching his birdie total from the opening round.

Yet the Englishman quickly gave those back with a pair of bogeys to leave him in a fight to get under the projected three-over cutline.

Tiger Woods, who opened with a solid 70 and is bidding for a fifth Green Jacket and his first major win since 2008, was part of the afternoon wave and was just getting his round underway.

Rory McIlroy, who arrived at the year’s first major as golf’s hottest player, produced a tepid effort in the first round with a 73 and will be in last group to tee off as he continues his bid for a Green Jacket to complete a career grand slam.

Editing by Pritha Sarkar and Toby Davis

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