Wet Saturday in store at Augusta as Reed bids to repel pursuers
Justin Rose looks solid twoballs option
Sky Sports Golf, 7pm Saturday
Story so far
Jordan Spieth quickly found reverse gear in the second round of the Masters, dropping three shots in his opening two holes, carding a two-over-par 74 which surrendered his grip on the tournament.
Spieth was 2-1 favourite, having started his bid for a second Masters title with a 66, but he covered his first seven holes of round two in four over par. The 2015 champion is still well in the hunt, sharing fourth place, but had his confidence dented by Friday woes.
Patrick Reed, a general 50-1 chance before the event, took advantage of the early Spieth wobble with an assured performance from the final group out. Reed made nine birdies – all in three-hole bursts – and fired a 66 to go two shots clear at the top of the board.
Reed has birdied every par five he has faced this week (eight in total), scrambling superbly, and the Ryder Cup star has become 3-1 favourite. The five-time US Tour champion has been playing some excellent golf in recent weeks and is finally doing himself justice at Augusta on his fifth visit.
Marc Leishman, 60-1 at the outset, is alone in second place, and there is a further two-shot gap to Henrik Stenson in third. Then four of the biggest names in modern golf comprise the places from fourth to sixth. Spieth and Rory McIlroy are tied for fourth, five shots off the pace, with Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas sharing sixth a further shot behind.
The weather gods seem set to throw a spanner in the works of a tournament which was bubbling up perfectly. Scattered showers are forecast for the morning, with heavy rain in the afternoon, and possibly a late thunderstorm. Winds could gust up to 20 mph.
A new champion is certain this year after Sergio Garcia missed the cut. All the big names got through to the weekend apart from Garcia, who carded a 13 at the 15th hole in round one. Only amateur duo Matt Parziale and Harry Ellis finished behind the Spaniard.
-9 Patrick Reed
-7 Marc Leishman
-5 Henrik Stenson
-4 Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth
-3 Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas
-2 Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Bubba Watson
-1 Jon Rahm
Par Hideki Matsuyama, Tommy Fleetwood
+2 Jason Day
+4 Tiger Woods
+5 Phil Mickelson, Paul Casey
Missed the cut
+15 Sergio Garcia
3 P Reed, 6 R McIlroy, J Spieth, 7 M Leishman, 10 H Stenson, 11 J Thomas, D Johnson, 25 J Rose, B Watson, 33 R Fowler, 50 J Rahm, 66 bar
Conditions are set to change at Augusta National for round three and punters need to evaluate which players will be suited by the rough weather.
It seems like everyone in contention for the Green Jacket will have to play in heavy rain, which will soften the track, while it could be a little breezier than it was for the first two days.
The leader, Patrick Reed, will not be overly concerned by the oncoming gloom. The Texan will not want the course getting too soft – he is not the longest of drivers – but he is comfortable competing in a breeze and able to grind with the best of them.
“I'm from Texas,” said Reed when asked about the impending weather in his post-round press conference. “It blows 40 and rains every day, it seems like. I like it when it's challenging.”
Marc Leishman, who hits a controlled fade which fights against the shape of many holes at Augusta, likes firm, fast conditions, like he had when winning the BMW Championship in September, and the Aussie may not appreciate the change in going. Jordan Spieth will not want the track getting too soft, either, as he could get outgunned by the heavy hitters around him on the board.
The other four serious title contenders – Henrik Stenson, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas – should relish the changes. McIlroy, in particular, loves attacking on a soft course. The Northern Irishman is tempting at 6-1, but it should be noted that this is a massive test for his bagman. The caddies are crucial in keeping their player and his equipment dry in heavy rain and rookie rake rat Harry Diamond may not be up to the task. The role is so much tougher in bad weather.
Stenson and Thomas, who both have excellent, experienced caddies alongside them, should be able to fully concentrate on the job in hand.
The outright tactics of every punter will depend on their ante-post investments. Racing Post Sport followers are in a strong position, with pre-tournament selections Patrick Reed and Justin Thomas both in contention, so it is a question of whether to have any cover-shots.
McIlroy at 6-1 and Dustin Johnson at 11-1 are the two prices to consider for those with decent wagers on Reed and Thomas, but preference is to keep the powder dry for another 18 holes, with confidence remaining high in the two original fancies.
Third-round twoball punters should consider Justin Rose for the 6.40pm contest. This is a day when his temperamental playing partner, Bubba Watson, could get easily ruffled. In a round regularly featuring 'mud-balls' and wet club faces, Watson could mentally implode.
The much calmer Rose, one of the most dependable tee-to-green operators in the world, will appreciate the increase in difficulty at Augusta and can prove too solid for Watson.
Dustin Johnson is preferred to Spieth in the 7.10pm contest. Johnson has a good record of success in wet weather and will be playing his second shots from a long way ahead of his rival. The action resumes at 3pm UK and Ireland time, with the final twoball of Reed and Leishman scheduled on the tee at 7.30pm.
3pts 21-20 188bet
2pts 6-5 Betfair, Power
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