USA GOLF THE MASTERS 2019
Australians Jason Day and Adam Scott have set the stage for one of the most exciting Masters weekends in memory having fired their way into a share of the lead as the cream rose to the top at Augusta National.
Five different major winners are tied for the 36-hole lead, with Tiger Woods among the chasers one shot behind, but three-time Masters champion Nick Faldo expects 2013 winner Scott to break ahead as he eyes a run at another green jacket.
Six-time major winner Faldo's confidence in 18-year Augusta veteran Scott comes from the fact the Australian had never opened the Masters with two rounds in the 60s before posting 69, 68 this week.
Faldo expects former world No.1 Scott to make a move in Saturday's third round, nicknamed 'moving day' in professional golf.
"I wouldn't call it moving day. I think it's going to be shuffling day, but I like Adam Scott," Faldo said on TV.
"I love the way he's swinging and that the greens are a little slow. That would help him and I believe he's got the right intentions this weekend."
Scott threatened to run away with the halfway lead but settled for a four-under-par 68 to finish tied at the top at seven under, alongside fellow major winners Day (67), Brooks Koepka (71), Louis Oosthuizen (66) and Francesco Molinari (67).
Dustin Johnson (70), Justin Harding (69) and Xander Schauffele (65) are a shot behind at six under alongside four-time Masters winner Woods (68).
"I think it's going to be an incredible weekend no matter what happens; there are so many great players in with a chance," Scott said.
Scott grabbed the outright lead on the par-5 15th when he returned from a 40-minute weather delay to fire his second shot from 231 yards to within four feet, knocking in the eagle putt.
He missed a short par putt on the par-3 16th and birdie putts on 17 and 18 from within close range.
Rain, thunderstorms and strong winds are forecast for the weekend - similar conditions to when Scott became the first Australian to don the green jacket six years ago.
"I think it's coincidental," Scott said, adding that the weather isn't why this week feels akin to his historic Masters win.
"I've really worked on everything with the Masters in mind from the start of the year; much like I did in 2013," he said.
"There has been more intent, this year. I want to prove to myself that I've got it."
Scott's countryman Day has not held even a share of the 36-hole lead since he led outright in 2013, only to stumble late in the final round.
Carrying a crippling back injury that required on-course medical treatment in Thursday's first round, Day says his ailment has lowered expectations on him.
"The Masters, how big it is and the distraction of wanting to win this tournament so bad, it (the back injury) is almost a blessing in disguise," Day said.
Fellow Australians Marc Leishman (72) and Cameron Smith (74) finished the second round at even-par 144.
The Masters cut fell at three over, meaning stars like Justin Rose and and Paul Casey, as well as former Masters winners Sergio Garcia and Charl Schwartzel, missed the cut.