Augusta (Georgia), April 8 (IANS) Spain’s Sergio Garcia, Belgium’s Thomas Pieters and Americans Charley Hoffman and Rickie Fowler shared the top spot after the second round of The Masters golf championship here on Friday.

Garcia, who continues to search for an elusive first major title, fired a three-under 69 to move to a four-under 140 total. Hoffman (three-over 75), Pieters (68) and Fowler (67) made it a four-way tie at the top.

Fowler came out with the best round of the day, mixing an eagle (on the par-five second hole), four birdies and a bogey.

William McGirt of the United States (73) was two shots back at the fifth spot, while Fred Couples (70), Justin Rose (72), Ryan Moore (69) and Jon Rahm (70) shared the sixth position after 36 holes.

Garcia, who earned the nickname El Niño when he burst on the scene as a teenager, told Efe that the Augusta National Golf Club was now a special place for him as a 37-year-old Tour veteran.

“I have very nice and special memories because of the people I’ve played with, for what Severiano (Ballesteros) meant to me and to world golf,” he said in reference to his late countryman, who won two green jackets in the early 1980s.

Garcia, who is making his 19th appearance at The Masters, has come close to winning a major championship, having finished in a tie for fourth at Augusta in 2004, a tie for third at the US Open in 2005, and second at both the British Open (2007 and 2014) and the PGA Championship (1999 and 2008).

On Friday, he birdied the first three holes and also finished strong with birdies on the 16th and 18th to record one of the best rounds of the tournament.

He carded bogeys on the fourth, 10th and 13th holes but dealt with the windy conditions better than just about any other golfer and is one of fewer than a dozen players who are under par heading into the weekend.

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    The IANS was founded by Indian American publisher Gopal Raju as the India Abroad News Service. It was later renamed the Indo-Asian News Service.

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