Augusta, April 7: Patrick Reed turned on the style to surge to the top of a star-studded Masters leaderboard as a stunning second-round 66 left him two shots clear of nearest challenger Marc Leishman.
The American enjoyed a day to remember at Augusta with a round that yielded nine birdies and three bogeys that left him nine under par for the tournament.
Reed had never broken 70 at the Masters until opening with a three-under 69 on Thursday, but the 27-year-old went on streaks of three birdies on three separate occasions to surpass his best Augusta score.
Leishman also impressed with a five-under 67 to follow up a solid opening-round of 70, but there is a wealth of talent ready to try to hunt down the leaders.
Henrik Stenson is four strokes off the pace in outright third thanks a two-under 70, while Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth will look to make their move on Saturday after ending day two in a tie for fourth at four under.
The presence of the latter duo in particular is likely to give Reed plenty to think about, with McIlroy having missed several late birdie opportunities to improve on his score of one under for the round, while Spieth – who had led by two overnight following a sublime 66 on day one – scrapped to a two-over 74 after dropping three shots on his first two holes.
Favourable late scoring saw the likes of Dustin Johnson (-4) and Justin Thomas (-5) also make their move, with the duo in a tie for sixth at three under.
Rickie Fowler, Louis Oosthuizen, Justin Rose and Bubba Watson are among those a further stroke back and remain well in the hunt.
Tiger Woods' hopes of challenging are almost certainly over, though, after a difficult outing that saw the four-time winner shoot a three-over 75 to leave him 13 strokes off Reed.
Defending champion Sergio Garcia is heading home after finishing 15 over for the tournament – with only two amateurs below him on the leaderboard.
Reed was in the last group and made a lightning start with neat play out of the bunker and sublime wedge play helping him start with a trio of birdies, while a 13-foot putt at the seventh began another run.
A bogey at 10 briefly derailed his momentum, but a final streak temporarily had him at 10 under before another dropped shot at 16 saw him hand a stroke back.
Leishman was also fast out of the blocks with three birdies to start his round and – after going birdie-bogey at 13 and 14 – he was briefly one shot shy of Reed with a sublime approach at the par-five 15th that left a tap-in eagle.
Reed is likely to have to contend with the elements as well as a formidable chasing pack on Saturday, with heavy rain and tricky winds forecast for day three at Augusta.