Masters leader Hoffman tees off with top rivals on his heels


He birdied all of them.

Unheralded American Charley Hoffman heads the field after Round 1 of the 2017 Masters at Augusta after steaming home on the back nine with four birdies, to sign for a sizzling 65.

The second round of the year's first major championship opened in cool and breezy conditions at 7,435-yard Augusta National, brisk winds likely to play havoc with top shotmakers as they did for most on day one.

Hoffman made four straight birdies from the 14th hole and had a chance to add another on the final green.

Johnson was a popular pick to win the first major of the year as a result of the fine form he has shown in 2017.

Day has never finished outside the top 30 in six previous Masters appearances, including two top-three finishes as well as a tie for 10th in 2016. Tied for fourth at one-under were seven players - Moore (74), Rahm (73), Soren Kjeldsen (72) and Andy Sullivan (71), who had all begun second round. "Today you just sort of go with it. After that, got the putter going".

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He later went on to win the US Open that year, and finish in the top four in the British Open and PGA Championship. In three years at The Masters, Spieth has six pars, three birdies, and two bogeys on the hole, plus the quadruple.

Hoffman acknowledged he was simply trying to make pars in the tricky conditions - gusts approached 40 miles per hour, flung hats off patrons' heads and sent egg-salad sandwich wrappers blowing across greens and fairways - so he wouldn't shoot himself out of the event.

Hoffman's scorecard was an anomaly - nine birdies to just two bogeys.

"I think I'm in a good position with three rounds to go and we will see how it goes", he said.

Also on 71 were Americans Russell Henley, the last qualifier for the Masters thanks to a victory last week at Houston; Kevin Chappell, a runner-up a year ago at the Players Championship, Tour Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational; and Jason Dufner, the 2013 PGA Championship victor. Els, who at 47 could possibly be competing in his final Masters (this is his 23, but he never has landed a green jacket), was visibly angered and a little on edge at the end of his round, having just finished bogey-bogey after doing the hard part, playing 16 holes in tough conditions at 1 over.

Rory McIlroy, even on first day, was even through an action-packed nine with three birdies and three bogeys in second round.

"I'm disappointed to finish like that", McIlroy said. A lesser-known pro gets red hot over the first 18 holes, gets a bunch of glowing press and then fades as the more consistent (read: better) players take over.

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William McGert is second with England's Lee Westwood another shot back in third.

Hoffman leads a field that had just 11 players under par by Thursday evening - eight of those, including Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia, were at 1 under.

Dustin Johnson, the world's No. 1 player, walked off the course before playing a shot in Thursday's first round, the victim of a freak back injury.

"It would have been better if it was a full staircase because I could have slipped down it", he said.

"It was pouring down rain, so I was going to go move the auto, I was just wearing my socks". He was in his rental home Wednesday when he went to move his auto in a downpour because his 2-year-old son was on his way back from day care.

"Obviously I'm going to sleep on the lead at a major championship here at Augusta National is not going to be the easiest thing", he said.

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