Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka shrugged off the lingering debate over a controversial ruling to set an imposing clubhouse target on day two of the 87th Masters.
Koepka shared the overnight lead with Jon Rahm and Viktor Hovland after an opening 65 at Augusta National and was relishing an early start on Friday, with rain and thunderstorms forecast later in the day.
And the former world number one took full advantage of ideal conditions to post a flawless 67 for a halfway total of 12 under par, the joint-third lowest in tournament history alongside LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman.
Koepka, who won the most recent 54-hole LIV event in Orlando on Sunday, had quickly moved into the outright lead with a birdie on the second and followed a run of five pars with an eagle from 13 feet on the eighth.
Further birdies followed on the 13th and 15th, both par fives, as Koepka cruised into pole position to claim his fifth major title and a first since the 2019 US PGA Championship.
However, while Koepka was out on the course, an incident from his first round continued to be debated after TV footage appeared to show his caddie Ricky Elliott saying “five” to playing partner Gary Woodland’s caddie on the 15th.
If that was deemed to have been advice on which club Koepka had just hit into the par five it would be a breach of the rules, but the pair were quickly cleared of any wrongdoing.
“Following the completion of Brooks Koepka’s round, the Committee questioned his caddie and others in the group about a possible incident on No. 15,” James B. Hyler Jr, Chairman of Competition Committees, said in a statement.
“All involved were adamant that no advice was given or requested. Consequently, the Committee determined that there was no breach of the rules.”
“This is common practice on tour. Whether you like it or not, it happens in every professional tournament around the world.
“If the authorities want to stamp this out (they would) really come down on this and make an example of it, and obviously they haven’t. They’ve chosen not to do that and it looked very clearly the evidence was against them.”
Pre-tournament joint-favourite Rory McIlroy was facing a battle to make the halfway cut after covering the first 11 holes of his second round in five over par.
McIlroy, who had talked confidently on Tuesday of having all the ingredients to claim a green jacket following his closing 64 here last year, dropped shots on the second, third, sixth, seventh and 11th to fall outside the projected cut mark.