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Dublin: 9 °C Thursday 17 October, 2019

It's moving day at the Masters but can anyone catch Spieth? Here's the men in hot pursuit

Heading into the weekend at Augusta National, we take a look at who might challenge the 21-year-old for the famous green jacket.

Spieth is in command at Augusta but will there be a twist yet?
Spieth is in command at Augusta but will there be a twist yet?
Image: PA Wire/Press Association Images

GOLF’S RECORD-KEEPERS have been very busy over the first two days of the 2015 Masters but it is the weekend’s action that will ultimately decide this year’s champion.

Jordan Spieth became the youngest golfer to hold the 18-hole lead on Thursday and then recorded the lowest 36-hole total on Friday to erase a 39-year record set by Raymond Floyd.

Dustin Johnson added his name to the record books on Friday when he eagled three par fives – the first time someone had notched a trio of eagles in one round at Augusta National.

Spieth holds a commanding five-shot lead over Charley Hoffman at the halfway point but there are a number of contenders ready to pounce should the former slip up.

Charley Hoffman (-9) — Hoffman quietly sits in second place at nine under heading into the weekend. To unseat Spieth, he will need to apply the pressure early. A few good putts on the opening nine could force some uncomfortable swings from Spieth and allow Hoffman to play within himself. He is officially the dark horse.

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Dustin Johnson (-7) — Johnson has been swinging the ball marvellously since returning in February after a six-month break. If he can stay accurate (he hit his drive well right on 18 resulting in a bogey) then Johnson potentially poses the biggest threat to Spieth with his ability to make birdies, and eagles, in bunches.

Paul Casey (-7) — Casey and fellow Englishman Justin Rose are seeking to become the first Europeans to win the Masters since Jose Maria Olazabal in 1999. In order to do that, Casey is going to need to play better on the par fives. Even though he is not a long hitter, birdies on every other par five will not be enough. He is putting fantastically well, however, and could be the favourite if the wind and rain pick up.

Justin Rose (-7) — Rose dropped three shots early in round two but fought back to stay in contention. Rose is one of the top golfers in the world when healthy and could make things difficult for Spieth on Sunday. The 2013 US Open champion knows what it takes to close the door in a major.

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Phil Mickelson (-6) — Mickelson surged up the leaderboard on the back nine as thunder boomed in the distance on Friday. The man known as ‘Lefty’ is no stranger to Sunday comebacks at Augusta, and will need to muster up another if he is to win this weekend. Mickelson does have one thing none of the other contenders have — experience. Of the six players within eight shots of the lead, only Mickelson and Spieth have a top-10 finish at the Masters.

Outside of the main contenders, a lot of eyes will be on Tiger Woods, who looked strong on Friday, posting a three-under 69 and moved into red figures for the first time this week.

The four-time winner finished two under overall, and though he is not going to triumph this year, it is certainly nice to see him playing well again.

Adam Scott – the 2013 champion - equalled Woods’ 69 to finish three under despite a bogey on the final hole.

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The Australian is still adjusting to a new caddie but his ball striking is second to none on tour.

Scott will probably need to shoot back-to-back 65s if he wants to have any chance at slipping on another green jacket though.

Defending champion Bubba Watson and world number one Rory McIlroy both sit a two under after pair of 71s each.

McIlroy was in jeopardy of missing the cut before shooting 31 on the back nine on Friday but because of the Northern Irishman’s potential to play phenomenal golf, he is not ruled out just yet.

Whether Spieth runs away and hides, or comes back to the pack, the Masters promises to provide plenty of excitement over the weekend.

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The42 Team

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