Golf: Spieth stumbles early, Kuchar in share of Masters lead

 Spieth hits his second shot from the pine straw on the first hole.
Spieth hits his second shot from the pine straw on the first hole.PHOTO: AFP

AUGUSTA, United States (REUTERS) - Overnight leader Jordan Spieth made a sputtering start to the second round of the US Masters on Friday (April 6) but steadied the ship and was one shot back of co-leader Matt Kuchar midway through his round.

The slow start left the American world number four Spieth among a group of five players one shot back of Kuchar and seven others who were tied atop a jammed leaderboard at three-under for the tournament.

Four-times winner Tiger Woods was among the late starters and was five shots back of the leaders after opening his round with a bogey.

Spieth, who led by two shots after the first round, made a double-bogey at the first and a bogey at the second and seventh holes to reach the turn at four-over 40 on a tough scoring day at windy Augusta National.

Kuchar, who finished in a share of fourth place in last year’s Masters, was one-over for the day through 11 holes. Other co-leaders on the course were Spaniard Rafael Cabrera Bello, Austrian Bernd Wiesberger and Australian Marc Leishman.

Swede Henrik Stenson, Canada’s Adam Hadwin and Americans Charley Hoffman and Patrick Reed were also in a share of the lead but yet to start their second rounds.

Three-times champion Phil Mickelson was two shots off the lead until a nightmare ninth hole where he made a triple-bogey seven that dropped him to three-over on the day.

Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, who needs a win this week to complete the career grand slam of golf’s four majors, was among those sitting a shot off the lead after mixing two birdies with three bogeys through 10 holes.

Late starter Sergio Garcia, whose 81 on Thursday was the worst opening-round score by a defending champion, remained at nine over par for the tournament after parring the first hole and faces a big uphill challenge to make the cut.