Rose clings to Masters lead, Spieth lurks

Justin Rose has salvaged an even-par round to retain his Masters lead but the challengers are lurking with Jordan Spieth among those to close in.

MARC LEISHMAN
MARC LEISHMAN Picture: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Justin Rose has felt the blowtorch firmly applied during the second round of the Masters but he refused to yield as he fought hard to maintain his place at the top of the leaderboard.

A day after his incredible seven-under 65 set up a four-shot cushion overnight, Rose appeared to be heading to the afterthought category when he dropped three shots through his opening seven holes.

However, the Englishman regained his momentum with three birdies in his closing six holes to grind out an even-par 72.

At seven-under 137 he is one shot clear of Americans Will Zalatoris (68) and Brian Harman (69), neither of whom have won a major.

The same can't be said for others lining up just a little further back.

Lurking ominously is Jordan Spieth (68), fresh from his drought-breaking win at last week's Texas Open.

The 2015 Masters champion is joint fourth with Australian Marc Leishman (67) at five under while world No.2 and 2017 PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas (67) is part of a six-way tie at four under.

It took some self-reflection after his fourth bogey of the morning and a mental reset for Rose to rectify his situation.

The 2013 US Open winner decided to block out the noise and enter into a mythical match against the course.

"I was joking, the finger was heading towards the panic button... But I had a little talk with myself on eight and said 'you're still leading the Masters' , changed my mindset and started to play match play," Rose said.

"I scratched a line on my scorecard and told myself I was three down and could I go ahead and beat the golf course from that point on.

"I had a putt on 18 to win my match 1-up, but unfortunately it just slipped by.

"Call it an honourable draw."

Now he faces a tough couple of days if he is to go one better than runner-up finishes in 2015 - to Spieth - and 2017, when Sergio Garcia prevailed in a playoff.

"I came in thinking (I can win). I'm in position now to think that for sure," Spieth said.

"I'm happy that the golf course has the opportunity to play more and more difficult over the weekend.

"Personally I'm looking forward to that kind of challenge, and I think that could be an advantage to me if I'm in control of the ball."

US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau returned to form with a 67 to be one under and among just 20 players under par.

The title defence of world No.1 Dustin Johnson is over after rounds of 74-75.

Bogeys on 17 and 18 on Friday resulted in him missing the cut at three over by two shots.

"The three-putts killed me. You take all the three-putts away, I'm one under," Johnson said, after needing 64 putts through two rounds.

Johnson wasn't alone in falling well short.

Rory McIlroy's woes continued and his run at a career grand slam are again on hold after a 74 left him six over while Brooks Koepka was just one shot better off with rounds of 74 and 75 in his return from injury.

"I worked my ass off just to get here, and then to play like this is pretty disappointing," Koepka said, explaining his right knee held up fine despite surgery less than a month ago.