AUGUSTA, Ga. – Patrick Reed will begin Saturday at the Masters in a commanding position.
Reed made nine birdies on Friday at Augusta National, firing a 6-under 66 to move to 9 under overall and two shots ahead of the field through 36 holes. Marc Leishman (70-67) sits in second, while Henrik Stenson (69-70) is four behind in solo third.
A star-studded duo in first-round leader Jordan Spieth (66-74) and Rory McIlroy (69-71) are tied for fourth at 4 under. Dustin Johnson (73-68) and Justin Thomas (74-67) are tied for sixth at 3 under. Tony Finau (68-74), Rickie Fowler (70-72), Justin Rose (72-70) and two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson (73-69) are among those tied for eighth at 2 under.
The cut came in at 5 over. Jason Day (75-71) and Fred Couples (72-74) are tied for 28th at 2 over. Tiger Woods went 73-75 to finish at 4 over and sit T-40.
That trio is all onto the weekend.
Jason Dufner (73-77), Thomas Pieters (73-78), 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett (75-76), Alex Noren (74-79) and defending champion Sergio Garcia (81-78) were among the notables to miss the cut.
Reed, 27, was on fire from the start Friday. He birdied his first three holes to move out in front at 6 under. He added three more by the end of the front nine to go out in 5-under 31 and find himself in the lead by three at 8 under overall.
A bogey followed at the par-4 10th, but three straight birdies from Nos. 13-15 moved him to 10 under and into a three-shot lead again.
A bogey at the 16th stalled his momentum, but two closing pars ensured he’d be on top.
Reed, a five-time PGA Tour winner, had never even finished in the the top 10 in a major until a T-2 at last year’s PGA Championship. And despite starring in college locally at Augusta State – leading the Jaguars to two national titles in 2010 and ’11 – Reed had shown little form in previous visits to Augusta National. He had zero top 20s in four prior Masters starts.
He could certainly improve on that a good deal this weekend. And it could mean his first major title.
There’s a long way to go, especially as Saturday forecasts rain pretty much all day.
But Reed has put himself in position to fill a hole in his resume.