Rickie Fowler hangs tough, Matt Kuchar fades in Round 2 at the Masters

Rickie Fowler hangs tough, Matt Kuchar fades in Round 2 at the Masters

PGA Tour

Rickie Fowler hangs tough, Matt Kuchar fades in Round 2 at the Masters

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Matt Kuchar is known for his ability to come out of nowhere Sunday for a top-10 finish at the Masters, so Friday was a little different.

Kuchar held a share of the lead with playing partner Rickie Fowler midway through Round 2, but finished on a down note shooting 3-over 75 on the day. Fowler shot an even-par 72 to stay at 2 under, while Kuchar dropped down to 1 under. Fowler was three shots behind co-leaders Marc Leishman and Patrick Reed when he finished with par at 18.

Fowler picked up his first birdie of the day at the par-4 fifth after landing his approach shot to five feet. A bogey at the par-3 16th sent him back to 1 under, but he got it back with a 13-footer for birdie at 17.

Kuchar made his only birdie of the day at the par-5 15th and had four bogeys, including a 3-putt to end his round.

Kuchar was 3 under for the tournament when he arrived to the seventh tee at Augusta National, sunblock covering patches of his face. It felt warm out but Kuchar was still wearing his salmon-colored, long-sleeve sweatshirt.

He got up-and-down from a greenside bunker for a good par at seven, then waited for what seemed like an eternity at the eighth tee box. Eventually he was able to unload on a drive, his ball landing left of the fairway bunker and in great shape for a birdie opportunity.

Kuchar is one of the shorter hitters on tour, but he was the only one to try for the green in two in his pairing with Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler.  His approach to the back left pin was on a great line, safely on the green leaving 56 feet for eagle.

But a great opportunity went to waste when Kuchar left his eagle try 10 feet short and three-putted for par. Fowler laid up and sank a 25-footer for birdie. That got Fowler to 3 under to tie Kuchar for a share of the lead at the time.

Mickelson was right there at 2 under. All three players were under par on a morning when scores were getting out of hand, and the best action at Augusta was above ground level overlooking the property at the eighth green and ninth tee.

Then Mickelson made double bogey at 18 to fall out of contention, leaving Fowler and Kuchar to battle on the back nine. It wasn’t overly impressive, but both players are still very much in the mix entering what should be a thrilling weekend at Augusta National.

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