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Rickie Fowler joins the logjam atop Masters leaderboard

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Credit Courtesy          GROUNDED Dustin Johnson was forced to withdraw with a back injury

It left him at the top of the leaderboard alongside Sergio Gacria, Charley Hoffman and European Ryder Cup star Thomas Pieters.

World No.8 Fowler and No.11 Garcia surged up the leaderboard in a thrilling second round at Augusta National on Friday.

England's Lee Westwood, runner-up a year ago, shot 68 to finish at one under along with Belgian Thomas Pieters, the joint overnight leader who struggled to a scrappy 75.

SC resident William McGirt are tied for fifth at 2-under 142, and Ryan Moore, Jon Rahm of Spain, 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose and 1992 Masters champion Fred Couples are the remaining players under par at 143.

The four-time major victor, who needs to win the Masters to complete the career grand slam, hit a superb pitch to three feet but missed the par putt to leave himself five shots off the clubhouse lead.

Rose climbed into a share of the lead by rolling seven birdies, including five on a back nine he finished in 31.

"I'm not sure", he said. "If I can get off to a fast start I'll be right there", McIlroy said. "If you don't, you really don't have a chance to make a putt". Afterwards Pieters said of Augusta, "It's just another golf course". Pieters (68) and Fowler (67) made it a four-way tie at the top.

Among those immediately around him, no one's stats line-up better for a shootout: Rickie is seventh on the PGA Tour in Birdie Average, fourth in Bogey Avoidance, third in Birdie-to-Bogey ratio, 9th in Strokes Gained Putting, and 9th in Third Round Scoring Average.

It certainly fired up Mickelson, who opened with birdies on the first and second holes to move to 2-under as those watching applauded wildly.

"It's going to be fun; it's going to be a real golf tournament", Fowler said. "Made a great par putt at 1 after I put myself in a tough position; 1 is definitely one of the hardest starting holes we have throughout the year". He also missed a short birdie putt on the final hole.

Through two rounds, the first hole has surrendered just three birdies.

Sergio Garcia, of Spain, reacts to a shot on the 15th hole during the second round of the Masters golf tournament Friday, April 7, 2017, in Augusta, Ga. Garcia, 37, whose younger self would have been fazed by the scoring error, said he wasn't anxious: "I knew where I stood".

"There were a couple of moments where I could have lost it a little; on 13 I hit a lovely drive, attractive second shot and made six". "As soon as it came out of the fringe, I knew it was moving". "They didn't come [Thursday], which was great". But the way the course was playing these first two days, it was very easy to make bogeys.

"Today was a really good day; I started 10 back and I'm now in position. Then you can run up numbers pretty quickly", he said. He approached the tournament hoping to get himself into contention Sunday, and he's looking forward to the calmer winds in the forecast.

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