Johnson among four in share of lead at Augusta Masters

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson was among four players to share the lead before play was halted on Friday because of darkness at 5:30 pm with 48 players yet to complete their second round.

Along with Johnson, Justin Thomas, Cameron Smith of Australia and Abraham Ancer of Mexico finished 36 holes at 9-under 135.

They were one stroke ahead of Patrick Cantlay (70-66), Sungjae Im (66-70) and World No. 2 Jon Rahm, who has played 12 holes in the second round. Danny Willett, the 2016 champion, Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose are at 137, with CT Pan (through 16 holes) and Louis Oosthuizen (through 12), also 7-under.

Several past champions are not far behind. Phil Mickelson shot 69-70, while Patrick Reed is 6-under through 11 holes and Tiger Woods 4-under through 10.

After finishing off a 7-under 65 on Friday morning to earn a share of the first-round lead, Johnson surged to a good start when he began his second round on the second nine. He made a trio of birdies to get to 10-under through 22 holes. But then he got consecutive bogeys followed by 11 straight pars before a closing birdie on his final hole.

Thomas and Smith saved their birdie runs until near the end of their rounds, Thomas making birdie on the last two holes to shoot 69 and Smith going eagle-birdie-birdie-birdie for 68.

Ancer spread out the birdies on his card, coming back from a bogey on his first hole (No. 10) with birdies on 12th, 14th, 16th, 2nd, 6th and 8th to shoot 67.

Unlike in April, when the course is firm generally , at this year’s Augusta Masters, that has been shifted to November due to Covid-19, the turf has become soft. That has made it hard for the players to play freely and take risks.

“I think it can firm up a little bit, but it’s going to be tough for it to get firm,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be soft enough to where you’re going to have to attack the golf course and play aggressive and keep swinging like I am. I like where I’m at. I like my position.”