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Masters Day Two Recap: World's Top Golfer Tied Atop a Divergent Tournament

Some players teed off soon after sunrise. Most haven't finished 36 holes despite golfing until dusk. Dustin Johnson leads a group of four looking down on all of them.

Two rounds in the books and two more to go … well, sort of.

The stop-and-start version of the 84th Masters was a 10-hour test of endurance on Friday, with some of the biggest names in golf rising to the top and the biggest body in the game continuing to struggle.

Through 1 and ¾ rounds, a quartet of players lead the Masters at 9-under par. That group is led by world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and No. 3 Justin Thomas, who along with Abraham Ancer and Cameron Smith sit one stroke clear of the rest of the field.

Tiger Woods continues to hang around the middle of the leaderboard at 4-under par with a chunk of his second round still remaining to be played while Bryson DeChambeau's attempt at bringing Augusta National to its knees took another hit Friday. Through 31 holes, DeChambeau sits at even par, right on the projected cut line.

With play stopped once again at 5:30 pm local time due to darkness, many players will tee off minutes after sunrise on Saturday to complete round two.

Here’s a few key takeaways from a long day two at the Masters.

World No. 1 makes his presence known

It’s almost like a Masters with no patrons was made for Dustin Johnson. The world's top-ranked golfer has said he misses the energy fans bring to the course. But watching DJ casually stroll Augusta National and play the first 36 holes at 9-under par gives you the sense that Johnson is perfectly suited for the chill environment at Augusta this week.

Dustin Johnson plays his shot off of the 3rd tee during the second round of The Masters golf tournament

Dustin Johnson plays his shot off of the 3rd tee during the second round.

Johnson finished his first round with a flurry of three birdies over his last four holes to grab a share of the lead at 7-under par. Less than a half hour later he began round two by birdieing three more of his first four holes to charge ahead at 10-under par. Johnson hit a couple of speed bumps along the way but a birdie on his final hole of the day propelled him into a tie atop the leaderboard at 9-under par.

“We knew today was going to be a long day,” said Johnson, whose alarm clock went off at 4 a.m. Friday morning. “It's a day where if you can get it going, you've got 27 holes to play, so it could work in your favor. I felt like that through the start of the second round, I swung it well. I was hitting the shots that I wanted to hit and giving myself some good opportunities for birdies.”

Even before Johnson teed off at Augusta, there was an overwhelming sentiment that this could be DJ’s week. Over the last three months, there’s been no one more consistent than Johnson. He’s reeled off two wins, three runner-ups and a T-6 since August. Even a positive COVID-19 test that forced him to sit out two weeks couldn’t halt his momentum.

He now sits tied atop arguably the most prestigious leaderboard in golf, though Johnson said he probably should be alone on top.

“I feel like I played a little bit better than my position right now, but I'm still happy with the way I'm swinging it, how I'm controlling the golf ball and everything I'm doing. I’m rolling the putter good. Just hopefully can see a few more go in over the weekend.”

It’s hard to believe that Johnson has just one major title under his belt. A number that simply doesn’t match his talent level. But with 36 holes to play at Augusta, the world No. 1 is indeed playing like it, and inching closer to the title of multiple major winner.

Stop and start creates two different tournaments

For some, Friday at the Masters was an absolute marathon. For others, it was a sprint to grab as much daylight as possible. With play being suspended on Thursday due to darkness after a three-hour rain delay in the morning, half of the Masters field was up at the crack of dawn on Friday, resuming round one at 7:30 a.m. ET and then immediately teeing off and playing round two.

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Those who were fortunate to finish on Thursday had to wait until mid-afternoon Friday to fire up their second round. Justin Thomas completed 26 holes on Friday while England’s Matt Wallace played just nine. It almost felt like two separate tournaments were being played with conditions damp and soft in the morning, then sunny and breezy in the afternoon.

Jordan Spieth prepares for his tee shot off the tenth tee as the sun sets during the second round

Jordan Spieth prepares for his tee shot off the tenth tee as the sun sets during the second round.

“I would have liked to have a little more sleep,” laughed Rickie Fowler following his second straight round of 70. Fowler sits at 4-under par after completing a round and a half on Friday. “I'm looking forward to putting my feet up and getting rested and ready for this weekend. This golf course is a solid walk on its own, but to go out today and play 24 holes in the soft conditions didn't make it any easier. It's a good walk. I don't wish I was a caddie at this point.”

Two days into the Masters and 44 have completed two rounds of play. The remaining 48 will be back at it Saturday morning at 7:30 a.m. setting up for another long day of golf. With the cut trimming the field down to the top 50 and ties, officials at Augusta National are confident that they’ll be able to complete round three prior to sunset.

Rory roller coaster

Rory McIlroy’s sixth attempt at completing the career grand slam has gotten off to a topsy-turvy start. The world No. 5’s Masters roller coaster ride began with an opening round 75 complete with hooked drivers into the woods and flared irons off the green. At 3-over par after his morning round, McIlroy could easily have packed it in and thought, ‘I’ll try again next year.' Instead, Rory charged back and played himself inside the cut line with a second round 66.

A wild ride indeed.

“I honestly have been playing so good coming in here, and then I go into the first round and I shoot 75, and I'm like ‘Where the hell did that come from?’" said McIlroy, who received a colorful pep talk in between rounds from Augusta National member and close friend Jimmy Dunne.

McIlroy rebounded with a bogey-free second round complete with five birdies and now finds himself just six shots off the lead at 3-under.

“I knew it was in there, it was just a matter of trusting a little more and being committed. I turned it around nicely and shot a good one, at least gave myself a chance going into the weekend.”

Rory McIlroy looks on after teeing off on the 3rd tee during the second round of The Masters golf tournament

Rory McIlroy looks on after teeing off on the 3rd tee during the second round.

The four-time major champion has crashed and burned at Augusta (2011) and charged with too little, too late (2015). If McIlroy can make a run this weekend, he’ll remember the bounce-back ability he showed on Friday as a big reason why.

Two keys to keep an eye on Saturday

Can Ancer handle the pressure?

Abraham Ancer finds himself in uncharted territory, sitting tied atop the Masters leaderboard. The 29-year-old Mexican has shown an explosive game that can collect birdies by the bunch, and he’ll need to lean on what little high-profile experience he has to remain in the hunt. Ancer’s spotlight moment of his career thus far was going head to head with Tiger Woods at last year’s Presidents Cup in Australia. He’s been very open about the lessons he learned from playing in that environment under that magnitude of pressure. Can he lean on that when he steps to the tee this weekend at Augusta?

Can Tiger make a run on Saturday morning?

With eight holes remaining on his second round, Tiger Woods will be up and at 'em Saturday. At 4-under par, Woods will need a couple of birdies down the stretch to play himself into contention for the weekend. With two gettable par 5s left on his round, a late charge is a strong possibility. If Tiger can get it to 6- or 7-under par, there should be a strong buzz making its way through Augusta National, fans or no fans.