|-9 J Thomas (US), D Johnson (US), A Ancer (Mex), C Smith (Aus); -8 P Cantlay (US), S Im (Kor), J Rahm 12* (Spa), H Matsuyama 15* (Jpn)|
|Selected others: -7 T Fleetwood (Eng), D Willett (Eng), J Rose (Eng); -6 P Casey 11* (Eng); -5 P Mickelson (US), B Koepka (US); -4 T Woods 10* (US); -3 R McIlroy (NI), B Langer (Ger)|
|* denotes yet to finish round two|
|Venue: Augusta National Date: 12-15 November|
|Coverage: Radio and text commentary online with in-play clips. Daily highlights on BBC Two – full details here|
Dustin Johnson is among four players to lead the Masters at nine under par after setting the clubhouse target during a hectic day two at Augusta.
Justin Thomas, Abraham Ancer and Cameron Smith sit alongside the world number one as benign conditions saw the early starters enjoy low scores.
Tommy Fleetwood and 2016 champion Danny Willett hit six-under-par 66s to get to seven under with Justin Rose (70).
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy also shot a 66 as he climbed to three under.
However, 46 of the 92-strong field will have to return to complete their second rounds at 12:30 GMT on Saturday after fading light curtailed Friday’s play.
Thursday’s overnight leader Paul Casey will be one of those heading out on Saturday morning in Augusta. He had one bogey and 10 pars in the 11 holes he managed to complete on Friday and will resume with a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-three 12th.
Defending champion Tiger Woods was level for the day through 10 to remain at four under par.
However, pre-Masters favourite Bryson DeChambeau’s erratic tournament continued as four birdies were offset by four bogeys and a triple-bogey seven at the third after he lost his ball.
It leaves the US Open champion one over with six to play and battling to make the cut, though the American will resume his round with a putt for an eagle at the par-five 13th.
Spaniard Jon Rahm and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama were the only players among the late starters to make a substantial move on the leaders, climbing to eight under par.
Rahm was five under for the day after 12 when the horn sounded to signal the close of play after five birdies in a so-far blemish-free round.
DJ sets the pace at Augusta
Johnson missed two tournaments in the build-up to Augusta after testing positive for Covid-19, but returned to post a second-place finish in Houston last week.
The 36-year-old is searching for his first Green Jacket and has carried his form into the Masters, finishing off his opening 65 on Friday morning before carding 70 later in the day.
He had threatened to pull away as he led by three on 10 under after four holes but successive bogeys stalled his progress.
However, the American finished with a birdie at 18 to regain a share of top spot.
The 44 players who did not complete the first round on Thursday, because of delays caused by an electrical storm, faced a quick turnaround before starting their second.
Momentum was with Johnson as he rolled in three successive birdies through Amen Corner, only to bogey the 14th and drop another stroke after finding the water on the par-five 15th.
“I felt like I played really well, hit a lot of good shots and had a lot of looks at birdies, but couldn’t quite get it in the hole,” said Johnson, whose only major victory to date is the 2016 US Open.
Several challengers to Johnson’s early lead came and went before Mexican Ancer and Australian Smith made their moves.
Thomas was one of those to share top spot earlier in the day after hitting the turn with four successive birdies.
The world number three dropped away with a double bogey at the first after dragging a drive into the pines and then hitting a tree trunk, but produced a strong recovery.
Ancer’s best finish at a major is tied for 16th at last year’s US PGA Championship, but he posted six birdies after an opening bogey to lead on his first Masters appearance.
Smith, who finished joint fifth at Augusta in 2018, produced a rollercoaster round of 68 that included six birdies, an eagle and four bogeys.
English trio in contention
Willett produced the finest moment of his career when he won the Masters four years ago, his sole major, but has failed to make the cut in the three tournaments since.
The 33-year-old will be in the mix this weekend, however, after shooting Friday’s joint-lowest round of 66 that seemed out of reach when he began with a double bogey at the 10th.
“It’s still surreal, still an amazing place to come to. An incredibly special place,” said Willett, who responded with an eagle at 13 and six birdies to move within two shots of the lead.
Compatriot Fleetwood is still searching for his first major title and also got off to a bad start when he bogeyed the first, but he recovered with three successive birdies and seven in total to join Willett on seven under par.
Rose, looking to go one better than his runner-up finishes in 2015 and 2017, completed his opening round with a scrambling 67 and added to it with a 70 later in the day that featured five birdies and two bogeys.
“I felt like I played good enough to win the tournament – I know I can win, I just don’t have an arm in a jacket yet,” said the 40-year-old.
“I have played in that final group a couple of times and really enjoyed it.”
McIlroy given a pep talk
Co-leader Johnson was in a group with McIlroy, who endured a torrid final nine as he completed his first round, but recovered with an impressive bogey-free 66 that included six birdies.
McIlroy’s opening 75 was his worst in 12 Masters appearances and the world number five revealed he was giving a talking to by friend and Augusta National member Jimmy Dunne between rounds.
“Jimmy gave me a pep talk in between rounds going on to the range,” he said. “I honestly have been playing so good coming in here, and then I go into the first round and I shoot 75, and I’m like, ‘where did that come from?’
“I knew it was in there, it was just a matter of trusting a little more and being committed.
“Hopefully I’ve got my eye in the last 18 holes and I need a couple of days pretty similar over the weekend to give myself a chance.”
South Korean prospect Sungjae Im also briefly shared the lead with Johnson, and heads into the weekend at eight under.
At 63, two-time champion Bernhard Langer will become the oldest player to make the cut at a Masters at three under.
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