AUGUSTA (Georgia) • Patrick Reed is best known for his Ryder Cup conquests. But the confident American is setting his sights on a maiden Major after grabbing the halfway lead in the Masters with a blistering six-under-par 66 at Augusta National on Friday.
Reed fired nine birdies to offset three bogeys on a blustery day to forge a two-stroke lead over Australian Marc Leishman on nine-under 135.
The 27-year-old, who boasts a brilliant 6-1-2 record in two Ryder Cups, was tied for second at the 2017 PGA championship and is eager to take the next step up into the winner's circle at a course not far from his old college, Augusta State.
"Everyone wants to win and, if you don't believe you can win them, then you probably shouldn't be playing in them," Reed, a five-time winner on the PGA Tour, told reporters.
"I believe that if I play the golf that I know how to play, I can win Majors."
Reed has never been short on confidence. He won two state high school championships in Louisiana and won two US national college titles while at Augusta State.
Yet, even though he had chances to play at Augusta National during his college days, in four previous Masters appearances, Reed's best showing was a tie for 22nd in 2015.
2ND ROUND (selected, USA unless stated)
135 Patrick Reed 69 66
137 Marc Leishman (Aus) 70 67
139 Henrik Stenson (Swe) 69 70
140 Jordan Spieth 66 74, Rory McIlroy (Nir) 69 71
141 Justin Thomas 74 67, Dustin Johnson 73 68
142 Tony Finau 68 74, Rickie Fowler 70 72, Justin Rose (Eng) 72 70, Bubba Watson 73 69
143 Jon Rahm (Esp) 75 68, Matt Kuchar 68 75
144 Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 73 71, Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 72 72
145 Li Haotong (Chn) 69 76
146 Jason Day (Aus) 75 71
148 Adam Scott (Aus) 75 73, Tiger Woods 73 75
149 Phil Mickelson 70 79
MISSED CUT (149) 151 Danny Willett (Eng) 75 76
153 a-Doc Redman 76 77
159 Sergio Garcia (Esp) 81 78
"The more you get to play out here, the more comfortable you get with the golf course, the more you kind of find little subtleties and nuances that you need to know about," Reed added.
"I feel like I've done all the work, like I know where I need to leave the golf ball, and most of the pins out here, and it's now just going out here and executing the game plan and staying disciplined enough to actually stick to that game plan."
Reed birdied his first three holes, made another three from the seventh before a final wave of birdies from the 13th. He had 22 one-putts in the round and birdied all four of the par-5s.
Making his Major breakthrough at the Masters would be particularly special for Reed.
"It's Augusta National. I mean, this golf course is one of the best that we ever play... to be able to drive down Magnolia Lane and see just the perfect grass and really just the lush, green fairways, it's basically golf's heaven," he said.
"It's just a place that is very special to me, special probably to a lot of the guys."
Following close behind Reed is Leishman, who carded a five-under 67 which put him on seven under for the tournament.
Swede Henrik Stenson (70) sits alone in third place on five under, while Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy (71) and former champion Jordan Spieth (74) are a further shot adrift.
McIlroy, who with a victory this week would become only the sixth player to win each of golf's four Majors, credited his new-found ability to remain patient for his recent form.
"I don't have to go out there and make a birdie on every hole, especially not on this golf course," he said. "Sometimes pars might be a little bit boring and you might feel as if you want to get a little bit more out of your round but, as you look up the leaderboard and you're still there around the lead, that's taken awhile for me to adjust to."
Top-ranked Dustin Johnson (68) and 2017 PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas (67) were on 141.
Thomas would overtake Johnson for the world No. 1 ranking if he wins.
More winds and cooler conditions were expected yesterday, along with rain.
"It looks like just grinding out par on the weekend out here," Spieth said.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
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