Garcia takes share of Masters lead as Hoffman falters

Sergio Garcia of Spain plays his shot from the fourth tee during the second round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2017

Spain's Sergio Garcia charged into a share of the lead in Friday's second round of the Masters thanks in part to a major collapse by US first-round leader Charley Hoffman.

Garcia, seeking his first major golf title, opened with three consecutive birdies and closed the front nine with another in blustery conditions at Augusta National.

Garcia, making his 74th major start and 19th Masters appearance, suffered a bogey at the par-3 fourth after missing the green off the tee but followed with four pars before another birdie before the turn.

The Spaniard was the only player in the first 22 groups Friday to birdie the opening hole, sinking a tricky 10-footer, then reached the second green in two shots to set up a two-putt bogey and dropped another long birdie putt at the third.

The 37-year-old Spaniard, a four-time major runner-up whose best Masters showing was a share of fourth in 2004, was on four-under for the tournament as 18-hole leader Hoffman withered over the wind-swept 7,435-yard layout.

Hoffman, who fired a seven-under par 65 in Thursday's opening round, birdied the par-5 second but stumbled with three consecutive bogeys starting at the par-3 sixth, then opened the back nine with another to slide to four-under alongside Garcia.

American William McGirt, who teed off in the opening group, owned the clubhouse lead at two-under par 142 for 36 holes after a second-round 73.

And a mouth-watering field of contenders lurked on one-under, including world number two Rory McIlroy, a four-time major winner trying to complete a career grand slam by winning a Masters green jacket.

Also in the one-under crowd were Spaniard Jon Rahm, five-time major winner Phil Mickelson and England's Justin Rose, Andy Sullivan and Matthew Fitzpatrick.