The Latest: Spieth starts Day 2 in stiffening breezes
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) The Latest from the second round of the Masters on Friday (all times local):
Masters leader Jordan Spieth started his second round in conditions better-suited to flying a kite than playing golf.
With steady 10-mph breezes from the west raking across Augusta National, Spieth's opening 66 looks even better than when he posted it, since nearly every golfer on the leaderboard Thursday and already out on the course has dropped shots.
That group includes Danny Lee, Shane Lowry, Sergio Garcia and Scott Piercy. One of the few golfers headed in the other direction is PGA winner Jason Day, who's 3-under through 10 holes.
The wind is expected to get stronger as the afternoon wears on, with predictions of gusts up to 20 mph.
Things are looking up a bit for Ernie Els.
Sure, he three-putted for double bogey on the first hole - a significant improvement from Thursday's six-putt and quintuple-bogey 9. But on Friday, Els went a more respectable 1 over for the rest of the front nine. That included two more bogeys and a birdie on the par-5 No. 8 after a 17-foot putt, a nice make after all those struggles with his short game.
His 39 when making the turn was two strokes better than in Round 1. It is progress, at least. Fans offered some gentle encouragement along the way.
More significantly, leading and 2015 green jacket winner Jordan Spieth tees off shortly.
A Spaniard, a Kiwi and Scott Piercy walk onto a golf course ... and there is your closest pursuers of first-round leader Jordan Spieth at Augusta National on Day 2.
Sergio Garcia, Danny Lee and Piercy - of Las Vegas - were all at 4-under par in the early going, still two shots behind defending champion Spieth, who won't tee off until 12:55 p.m.
If he's a glass-half-full guy, Ernie Els could say he's taking baby steps.
On Friday, he only needed three putts to finish the first hole.
Els' nightmare on No. 1 continued into Round 2 of the Masters. He made double-bogey, which included clocking a fan on an errant approach shot, then a miss from inside of 4 feet.
Not as bad as the six-putt Thursday that ended up in a quintuple-bogey 9 - the worst score ever recorded on that hole.
Els took plenty of time on the practice green before the round, dropping balls 2-3 feet from the holes and carefully measuring them. At one point, he knocked in eight in a row.
Things unraveled quickly. Els hooked his approach shot and hit a fan, who, moments later, was sporting an ice pack on the right side of his head. Els then chipped to the top of the mound on the first green, but the ball rolled backward, and his par putt came from about 50 feet.
Danny Lee signaled ''Game On!'' by making birdie at No. 2 as the chase to catch defending champion and first-round leader Jordan Spieth began in earnest. Lee and Ian Poulter were the only players among the top 10 on the leaderboard and on the course in a strong morning breeze.
Spieth shot an opening-day 66, two better than Lee's 68. Poulter was another stroke behind.
With the cut lurking at the end of the day, birdies could be tough to come by. Winds are expected to gust up to 25 mph this afternoon, drying up Augusta National's already slick greens and making shot calculations that much trickier. Flags atop the manual scoreboard at the entrance to the course, reflecting the nationalities of the pack of players chasing Spieth, were already rippling in the breeze.
The second round of the Masters has started with two questions looming. Who can catch Jordan Spieth, and who will get two more days to try?
The top 50 and ties, and anyone within 10 shots of the lead, make the cut at Augusta National. All eyes will be on 66-year-old Tom Watson playing in his final Masters. Watson knows he can't win a green jacket, but he would love to say farewell on Sunday instead of Friday. He opened with a 74. The oldest player to make the cut in the Masters is Tommy Aaron, who was 63 when he played all four rounds in 2000.
A trace of rain overnight won't make the course soft. It just keeps it from getting overly fast and firm.
Spieth was at 6-under 66 and tees off at 12:55 p.m.
Danny Lee and Shane Lowry, two shots behind, played early Friday. So did Rory McIlroy (2 under) and Jason Day (even par).
A pack of lesser-known players is pursuing Jordan Spieth at the Masters, and some other big names are lurking not too far behind.
Danny Lee and Shane Lowry - surprisingly tied for second two strokes behind Spieth's 6-under 66 - get a couple hours head start in Friday's second round before Spieth resumes his attack on Augusta National just before 1 p.m. World No. 1 Jason Day, who struggled on the back nine Thursday to fall six strokes behind Spieth, will be back on the course around 10 a.m.
Spieth is hoping to match Arnold Palmer's record Masters streak of finishing six rounds with the lead. It won't be any easier than battling the winds at Augusta National this week.