Friday at Augusta National Golf Club was the Brooks Koepka show as the four-time major champion raced out to a three-stroke lead heading into the weekend at the Masters.

Koepka, who opened his week with a seven-under 65 to grab a share of the lead through 18 holes, followed it with a five-under 67 as part of the lucky morning wave who were able to get their rounds in before the harsh weather arrived.

After eight birdies and one bogey on Thursday, Koepka put together a bogey-free round with three birdies and an eagle as he continued his momentum from last week's victory at LIV Golf Orlando.

Jon Rahm was not so lucky to avoid the strong winds and rain arriving later in the day, but he handled it as well as anyone. He started his second round with seven consecutive pars, before birdieing the eighth and ninth to move to nine under right before his round was cut short.

The winds were blowing in with such force that multiple large trees were blown down in spectator areas, but luckily there were reported no injuries.

One further back from Rahm in outright third is 23-year-old amateur Sam Bennett, shooting his second 68 in a row as he bounced back from his first bogey of the week on the fourth hole to go four-under through his final 14.

Two-time major champion Collin Morikawa and top-10 talent Viktor Hovland (through 10 holes) are tied for fourth at six under, and while Jordan Spieth and Jason Day are still in the hunt at five under, Day will feel he let a golden opportunity slip.

Through 14 holes, Day was in outright second at nine under, but he finished with a double-bogey on 15, a bogey on 16 and another bogey on 18 to slip into a tie for sixth, seven shots off the pace.

In more strong representation from the LIV Golf players, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed and Joaquinn Niemann are all in the tie for 10th at four under.

Shot of the day

Cameron Smith started his second round with three bogeys from his first seven holes, but his last hole before play was cancelled was one to remember.

On the par-five eighth, Smith found the bunker with his tee shot, but instead of laying up he opted for the aggressive route and hit his fairway wood, trickling its way onto the side of the green and feeding back towards the hole to set up an eagle.

A little birdie told me…

Rookie Bennett made it to the end of his round in solo second at eight under, and if Rahm slips up, Bennett could become the first amateur since 1958 to hold solo second heading into the weekend.

In fact, his score is the second-best 36-hole mark by an amateur at Augusta, bettered only by Ken Venturi in 1956 (nine under), and they are the only amateurs to ever reach the weekend here with a figure better than three under.

Brooks Koepka held a three-shot lead halfway through his second round of The Masters and Rory McIlroy is facing a battle to make the cut.

Koepka was joint-top of the leaderboard along with Jon Rahm and Viktor Hovland after starting with a seven-under 65 at Augusta National on Thursday.

The four-time major champion had the chance to go out on his own on Friday, with Rahm and Hovland starting later in the day, and he was sitting pretty at 10 under through nine holes.

Koepka arrived in Georgia full of confidence following a victory at LIV Golf Orlando and the American has given himself a great opportunity to win a first Masters title.

He birdied the second hole after an excellent third shot from a green-side bunker and eagled the par-five eighth following a majestic approach shot to move into double figures.

Jason Day surged into a share of second place courtesy of gains at the second and third holes, while a couple of early birdies took Collin Morikawa to five under on a day on which tee times were brought forward by half an hour due to the forecast of inclement weather.

Amateur Sam Bennett was six shots back from Koepka along with Sam Burns, Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau and Gary Woodland.

McIlroy's hopes of completing a career Grand Slam this weekend look to be over as he was back on two over through three holes following bogeys at the second and third holes.

Defending champion and world number one Scottie Scheffler dropped back to three under.

Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka and Viktor Hovland are tied for lead at seven under after Thursday's opening round at the Masters.

It was a shaky start for world number three Rahm as he stumbled to a double-bogey on the first hole, but he birdied the next two to quickly even out his card, before rattling off another five birdies and an eagle the rest of the way.

Koepka, a four-time major champion, is riding high after emerging victorious in last week's LIV Golf Orlando to become the breakaway tour's first ever two-time winner, and he looked terrific with eight birdies and one bogey.

Hovland was the only of the trio to go bogey-free, with the 25-year-old Norwegian now in a great position to make a run at his first major title.

They have a two-stroke lead on the chasing pack, with Australia's former world number one Jason Day shooting a bogey-free, five-under 67, and he is joined in a tie for fourth by Cameron Young.

Tiger Woods carded back-to-back birdies on the 15th and 16th holes to salvage a disappointing two-over 74, leaving him with work to do on Friday if he is to make the cut.

World number one Scottie Scheffler is part of a loaded logjam tied for sixth at four under, which also includes world number seven Xander Schauffele, former Masters champion Adam Scott, WGC Match Play winner Sam Burns, and surprising rookie Sam Bennett.

Three-time major champion Jordan Spieth is at three under with two-time major champion Collin Morikawa, reigning British Open champion Cameron Smith is at two under with reigning PGA Championship victor Justin Thomas, and Phil Mickelson is joined at one under by fellow Masters champions Hideki Matsuyama, Patrick Reed and Dustin Johnson.

Shot of the day

While Bennett's eagle chip-in, or Rahm's long iron setting up a five-foot eagle putt were worthy contenders, neither had the degree of difficulty of Hovland's par save on the 10th hole.

Landing in a horrible spot in the rough behind a bunker, with almost no green to work with, Hovland played a feathery flop into the fringe and allowed it to trickle next to the hole for an unlikely par.

A little birdie told me… 

It was a memorable day for Bennett, as the 23-year-old amateur began his first round at the Masters with a birdie on the first, an eagle on the second and another birdie on the sixth to tie the best front-nine score by an amateur at Augusta (32).

Meanwhile, after his best major finish last season with a T4 at The Open, Hovland tied his best round at a major, and set a new personal best around Augusta with his seven-under 65.

Joining him at the top of the leaderboard, Rahm will be trying to make history as the first player to ever win the Masters after double-bogeying their opening hole.

Jon Rahm was the major casualty from the WGC Match Play on Friday as Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay all advanced with perfect records.

The Spanish second seed was dumped out after losing 5 and 4 to 2021 WGC Match Play winner Billy Horschel in their final Group 2 match at the Austin Country Club in Texas.

Horschel went 1-up with a par on the second hole and never relinquished the lead, with Rahm failing to register a birdie throughout the day's play.

The 36-year-old American pulled away with birdies on the 10th and 11th holes followed by a 21-foot birdie putt on the 14th to clinch a spot in the round of 16 against Cameron Young.

Horschel progressed in a tight group with a 2-0-1 record ahead of Rickie Fowler (2-1-0), Rahm (1-2-0) and Keith Mitchell (0-2-1).

Top seed and reigning champion Scheffler advanced after beating Tom Kim 3 and 2 to round out a 3-0-0 group stage record.

Kim came out strong with birdies on the first two holes to go 2-up, but Scheffler rallied back immediately winning three of the next four holes.

Third seed McIlroy topped Group 3 unblemished after beating Keegan Bradley 3 and 2, while fourth seed Cantlay beat Brian Harman 2 and 1 to top Group 4 with a 3-0-0 record.

Kurt Kitayama won a three-way sudden death playoff over Tony Finau and Adrian Meronk to progress atop Group 10.

Canadian Mackenzie Hughes produced an upset to advance via Group 12 from Taylor Montgomery who he beat 6 and 4. Jordan Spieth, who beat Hughes on Thursday, missed out after losing to Shane Lowry 2 and 1.

J.J. Spaun also pulled off a surprise by topping Group 11 with a 3-0-0 record, downing Min Woo Lee 2 and 1 to seal his progress.

Max Homa, Xander Schauffele, Andrew Putnam, Matt Kuchar, Sam Burns, Lucas Herbert, J.T. Poston, Jason Day and Young also all progressed into Saturday's last 16 knockout stage.

Jordan Spieth needed an incredible stroke of luck to sneak under the cut-line during Friday's weather-interrupted second round of The Players Championship.

On a day when the two best performers from round one – Chad Ramey and Collin Morikawa – both shot over par, the top story was the unlikely eagle on the final hole from Spieth to go from two over to even par.

Likely needing a birdie to make the cut, Spieth sliced his drive towards the water, but instead of going in and ending his week, it struck a spectator's knee and ricocheted back into the fairway.

He went on to put his second shot on the par-five ninth hole into the greenside rough, where he would chip in for eagle.

After the round, Spieth said he was "trying to get that guy's information and see literally whatever he wants this weekend because everything from here on out is because it hit him".

Meanwhile, still with plenty of holes to play after weather forced the afternoon starters to wrap up early, South Africa's Christiaan Bezuidenhout (through 14) and Canada's Adam Svensson (through 11) sit two strokes clear of the field at eight under.

Morikawa could not replicate his opening 65, sitting at one over for his round through 11 holes and six under overall, tied with fellow American Ben Griffin and Australia's Min Woo Lee (through 15) in third.

World number two Scottie Scheffler (through 10) is with Taylor Pendrith as the only players at five under, while Jason Day and Viktor Hovland headline the final group in the top 10 at four under.

The field lost world number one Jon Rahm as he withdrew due to illness an hour before teeing off, while Rory McIlroy is almost certainly going to miss the cut at six over with eight holes to play.

Chad Ramey put together a memorable round on Thursday as he shot an eight-under 64 to lead The Players Championship after 18 holes.

Ramey, 30, has one PGA Tour victory to his name and is defying his recent form, having missed the cut in each of his past three starts, and he has not had a top-30 finish since October.

He finished his first trip around The Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass with four birdies on the front nine and four more on the back nine – including on the famous 'island green' 17th hole – and was one of the few players to go bogey-free.

He is one stroke clear of two-time major champion Collin Morikawa, who was the only competitor to shoot a seven-under 65, also going bogey-free with five birdies and an eagle.

While Morikawa is the only player within two strokes of the lead, rookie Justin Suh has a chance to join him when he resumes on Friday with three holes to finish off. He is tied for third at five under, although his next shot will be a putt for eagle on the 16th.

Suh is joined by Taylor Pendrith and Ben Griffin at five under, while world number two Scottie Scheffler headlines the group tied for sixth at four under.

Viktor Hovland and Jordan Spieth are still in the mix after impressive three-under 69s as part of the afternoon group, who played in the trickier conditions, and coming off four consecutive top-10 finishes Jason Day is one further back at two under.

It was a day to forget for pre-tournament fancies Rory McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick, both at four over, while Hayden Buckley will never forget his shot of the day after acing at the famous 17th.

Cameron Smith's absence from the Players Championship and inability to defend his title is sad for the prestigious tournament, believes former winner Jason Day.

The reigning champion is missing from TPC Sawgrass this year following his defection from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf last season.

Smith, who also claimed The Open in 2022 before he made the move to join the Saudi-funded breakaway, is barred from competing after linking up with the rival tour, with Day conceding his omission from the field casts something of a shadow over the event.

"He lives five minutes down the road," he told Sky Sports. "I miss Cammy. I miss a lot of the guys that have gone over to the LIV Tour.

"Obviously I don't blame them for going over there. They had the opportunity to pick up whatever they wanted to, money-wise.

"They made a decision. [But] it is a little bit sad Cammy's not here this week. The decision has been made, and he's over there."

Day, the former world number one, is back at Sawgrass seven years on from his victory at The Players, which came on the heels of his only major win in the 2015 PGA Championship.

The Australian looks poised to continue into a new PGA era that will see the tour restructured, in an apparent response to the LIV's emergence.

The 2024 season will contain eight events with no cuts and limited fields of 70-78 players competing for elevated purses and FedEx Cup points.

Day refused to either endorse or criticise the expected changes though, adding: "I don't necessarily have an opinion. I just want to show up and win tournaments

"I know some guys will be divided. Regardless of what we do out here, there will be guys disappointed. Let's see how the designated events go. We've got to give it time and if they need to adjust they adjust."

Scottie Scheffler reclaimed the world number one ranking after successfully defending his Waste Management Phoenix Open title with a two-stroke victory on Sunday.

Scheffler – after posting rounds of 68, 64 and 68 – closed in style with a six-under 65 to finish at 19-under overall.

He went bogey-free in his final round with four birdies and an eagle, showing his affinity for the TPC Scottsdale course after winning his first PGA Tour event at this tournament last season.

Scheffler's lead was down to only one stroke heading into the famous 16th hole, and while he could only muster a par, that proved to be enough as second-placed Nick Taylor made bogey, and Scheffler extended the lead to three strokes for a comfortable finish with a birdie on 17.

Speaking to CBS after stepping off the final green, Scheffler said he was proud of the way he battled through some average shots.

"I'm just proud of how I fought today," he said. "I didn't have my best stuff, so I grinded it out today. I wasn't hitting it good off the tee, my irons didn't feel sharp, but I played a great round of golf today."

Taylor birdied the 18th to finish alone in second at 17 under for his best result since winning the 2020 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

The red-hot Jon Rahm ended up in sole possession of third at 14 under, fellow major champion Justin Thomas finished fourth at 13 under, and former world number one Jason Day continued his return to relevance with a fifth-place result at 12 under.

The highlight of the day came from Rickie Fowler, punctuating his T10 finish with an ace on the par-three seventh hole.

Scottie Scheffler won his first PGA Tour title 12 months ago at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and he is looking to defend that crown as he heads into the weekend with a two stroke lead at 10 under.

A large chunk of the field still have between five and eight holes remaining before they complete their second round, with a delay on Thursday creating a backlog as players had to finish their first round early Friday morning.

Scheffler was part of the early group and followed his opening 68 with a seven-under 64, and he was the only player to shoot seven under on his second trip around TPC Scottsdale.

It is shaping up as a tantalising battle at the top of the leaderboard after Jon Rahm's 66 clawed his way into a tie for second at eight under, where he is joined by round-one leader Adam Hadwin, who still has eight holes to play.

Im Sung-jae will have his sights set on posting the best second-round score, with time being called while he was six under through 12 holes, and tied for fourth with Wyndham Clark at seven under overall.

The only other player with a second-round score of six under or better was Venezuela's Jhonattan Vegas, rebounding strongly from an even-par opener, and he has four holes remaining to try and match Scheffler's heroics. 

Also in a tie for sixth with Vegas are former world number one Jason Day and current world number six Xander Schauffele, while the dangerous duo of Tom Kim and Jordan Spieth are one further back at five under.

Major champions Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy are still in the hunt at three under, Viktor Hovland is at two under, and Hideki Matsuyama is at one under with five holes to play.

Half the field still need to complete their opening round, but Nick Taylor and Adam Hadwin raced around with the early group to take a share of the lead into Friday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Taylor had a rollercoaster of a round, posting a one-over front-nine after an eagle, a double-bogey and a bogey, before flying home with six birdies on the back-nine to finish at five under.

He is joined by Canadian compatriot Hadwin as the only players to finish rounds of 66, but there is a strong chasing pack who were unable to finish that will look to snatch the round-one lead on Friday morning.

World number six Xander Schauffele is one stroke off the lead at four under, although he has finished his round, while joining him in a tie for third are former world number one Jason Day (through 10) and American Jim Herman (through 13).

The red-hot Jon Rahm will have his sights on the top, sitting at three under with five holes to play, as will both Max Homa and Keegan Bradley who are also at three under with six holes to play.

Major champion Matt Fitzpatrick is joined by Tony Finau, Sam Burns and Im Sung-jae in the group who completed one-under rounds, while Jordan Spieth posted an even-par 71.

Justin Thomas (one over through 12) will have a chance to still finish his first round under par, while Collin Morikawa, Patrick Cantlay and Cameron Young will all be trying to fight their way back into contention after finishing two over.

Max Homa produced his best round of the week to erase a five-stroke deficit and win the Farmers Insurance Open with a score of 13 under.

Low scores were hard to come by on the difficult Torrey Pines South Course, with only three players posting final scores of 10 under or better, while Homa's 13 under was the worst winning score of the season so far.

Coming into Saturday's final round at seven under, Homa posted seven birdies and one bogey to shoot 66, tying the round of the day and finishing with a birdie on the last to win by two strokes.

It is the sixth PGA Tour win of Homa's career, and he now has back-to-back multi-win seasons after also collecting the opening event of the campaign at September's Fortinet Championship.

The only other player to shoot a six-under 66 in the final round was Keegan Bradley, flying up the leaderboard into outright second place at 11 under, while world number eight Collin Morikawa finished alone in third at 10 under. 

Sam Ryder was the outright leader after the second and third rounds, but he ended up in a tie for fourth at nine under due to a 75 in his final trip around the course that twice hosted the U.S. Open.

Coming into the event with four wins from his previous six starts, and starting Saturday at 10 under, Jon Rahm had to settle for seventh after a two-over 74, tying with former world number one Jason Day.

Sam Ryder is in a strong position to make a run at his first PGA Tour victory as he heads into the weekend at the Farmers Insurance Open with a three-stroke buffer atop the leaderboard.

Ryder, 33, has not collected a professional win since his Web.com Tour triumph back in 2017, but after banking a second-place finish in 2021 and a third-place result in 2022, he now has his best chance at a PGA Tour title.

The American owned a share of the lead after an eight-under 64 in his opening round on the Torrey Pines North Course, and he followed it with a four-under 68 on the South Course during Friday's second round. The final two rounds will be played on the South Course, which has hosted the U.S. Open twice.

Ryder's co-leaders after 18 holes both had far more trouble on the South Course, with Brent Grant posting a two-over 74 to drop to six under, while England's Aaron Rai shot himself out of contention with a six-over 78.

Alone in second place is Ryder's playing partner from the first two days, Brendan Steele, who went two under on the more difficult South Course to reach the weekend at nine under.

Incredibly, Steele is the only player within five strokes of the leader, with Argentina's Tano Goya sitting in solo third place at seven under.

Despite Grant's massive drop-off, he still owns a share of fourth place at six under, where he is part of a six-man group including Max Homa and Sahith Theegala.

Former world number one Jason Day and current top-10 talent Collin Morikawa round out the top-10 at five under, while Jon Rahm, who has won four of his past six starts, is one further back at four under.

After two rounds at The American Express it is Davis Thompson and Jon Rahm who have broken away from the field, both at least three strokes clear of third place.

Thompson was the first-round leader after riding back-to-back eagles to a 10-under 62 – the best score of his PGA Tour career – and he added three more eagles in his second round to follow it up with a 64 and head into the weekend at 18 under. His five eagles ties the PGA Tour record for the most through 36 holes at any event.

He is two strokes clear of Rahm at 16 under after the world number four went bogey-free for his second 64 in a row.

Both players began their week on the La Quinta Country Club course, and both played the PGA West's Nicklaus Tournament course on Friday. They will play Saturday's round on the PGA West Stadium Course, which is also where Sunday's final round will be contested.

There are some big names in the chasing pack, with South Korean rising star Tom Kim and former world number one Jason Day part of a five-man group at 13 under.

Patton Kizzire is alone in eighth at 12 under, while world number six Xander Schauffele rounds out the top-10 in a tie for ninth at 11 under.

World number two Scottie Scheffler and number five Patrick Cantlay are still in the hunt at 10 under, while number seven Will Zalatoris is one shot inside the theoretical cut line at six under, but all players will get one more round before the cut at the conclusion of round three.

Former world number one Jason Day will not be making an imminent defection to LIV Golf, but has not ruled out departing the PGA Tour in the future if his view changes.

The Australian, who won the 2015 PGA Championship for his only career major to date, is close friends with countryman Cameron Smith, who made the switch after winning The Open Championship earlier this year.

With several of the sport's leading stars having defected to the Saudi Arabia-backed breakaway, a bitter civil war has been sparked between the two tours.

While stating he would not follow Smith to the Greg Norman-headed competition immediately, Day refused to completely chalk off a switch down the line, while adding he remains saddened by the split.

"I definitely would say no, I wouldn't go as of now," he told the Palm Beach Post.

"[But] who knows in a year's time, you might think differently.

"I don't blame some of the guys for going because there's quite a lot of money these guys are earning. I understand it.

"For me, it just depends on how you feel about major championships. I know that's all up in the air right now if they're going to play or not, and they don't have world ranking points out there.

"It's disappointing there's a divide on both sides. All those guys out there are my friends.

"Some of the friendships fractured between some of the guys who have been more outspoken [but] I don't mind the guys leaving."

Day suggested a potential way to harmony would be to stage the PGA Tour from January through August, and then have the LIV competition follow to complete the year.

"I honestly wish the tours could join somehow," he added. "That would be great. I think that could potentially work if you want to do it. That would be fun."

Russell Henley sealed a four-shot victory in the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba as he cruised to a fourth PGA Tour title.

It was Henley's first win since the 2017 Shell Houston Open, and he tied the tournament low-scoring record – set by Viktor Hovland last season. Henley's final aggregate of 23 under was secured by rounds of 63, 63, 65 and a 70 on Sunday.

He finished four shots clear of the field, but after going bogey-free for his first 58 holes, Henley's first blemish for the week came with a six at the par-five fifth, adding another bogey on 16 to go with his three birdies.

Speaking to NBC after stepping off the final green at the event in Mexico, Henley said he was guided by experience of previous occasions where he has not been able to convert 54-hole leads into wins.

"Just tried to learn from my past, and my screw-ups," he said. "That's kind of what I took from the last two events this season – what am I doing wrong, and how can I get better with it.

"All those events that I haven't closed out [five times he has held the 54-hole lead and not won], they hurt. You don't know if you'll ever get to win another one, it's so hard out here.

"To come down 18 with a four-shot lead, it's really cool. I don't even know what to say. I felt very nervous this weekend, I slept on the lead both nights – I've never slept on a six-shot lead.

"You just don't feel the same as when you're practising at home, you can't create that environment that you get out here when you're leading at a PGA Tour event.

"I guess all the times I didn't get it done, I learned from it, and here we are."

Alone in second place at 19 under was Brian Harman, who posted rounds of 66, 66, 67 and 66 in an incredibly consistent week which included a hole-in-one on Friday.

Scottie Scheffler was two strokes better than anyone else in the final trip around El Camaleon Golf Club, shooting a nine-under 62 to fly up the leaderboard into a tie for third at 18 under.

Joining Scheffler at 18 under were fellow Americans Joel Dahmen, Troy Merritt and Will Gordon, as well as last week's winner of the Bermuda Championship, Ireland's Seamus Power.

Sweden's David Lingmerth joined Sam Ryder at 17 under in a tie for eighth, while defending back-to-back champion of this event Hovland was one further back, tied for 10th.

Collin Morikawa finished the week at 15 under, and former world number one Jason Day was joined by former Masters champion Danny Willett at 14 under.

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