By Steve Keating
AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) – Steady rain provided a boost for the big-hitters, including Brooks Koepka who shared the overnight lead with Bryson DeChambeau, as the second round of the Masters got underway on Friday.
Soft conditions at Augusta National benefited the boomers in Thursday’s opening round as Koepka, winner of three of the last six majors he has contested, world number two Dustin Johnson and Spaniard John Rahm all muscled their way onto the leaderboard.
Rain and thunderstorms are forecast to continue throughout the day and into weekend, threatening possible delays at the year’s first major.
After returning opening rounds of six-under 66, Koepka and DeChambeau start the day one clear of three-times Masters champion Phil Mickelson, who showed experience still counts at Augusta National as the 48-year-old turned back the clock with an opening round 67.
Tiger Woods, chasing a first major since 2008, will go out at 1:49 pm ET (1749 GMT) in the company of China’s Li Haotong and Rahm. He will be looking for another solid round after an opening two-under.
Rory McIlroy, out at 2:00 pm ET will once again be in the spotlight on a gloomy day, with the Northern Irishman needing to improve on his one-over 73 if he hopes to finally complete his career grand slam by winning a Green Jacket.
Americans Patton Kizzire and Michael Kim and Scotland’s Sandy Lyle led the morning wave off as the bigger names warmed up on the practise range.
DeChambeau, in a group that includes Johnson and Australian Jason Day, will set off at 10:42 am followed by a threesome that includes Mickelson and British world number one Justin Rose who has work to do if he wants to make the cut after a disappointing three-over 75.
Koepka is out right after at 11:04 am.
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)