Masters 2013 leaderboard: Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar add early birdies

Andrew Redington

After some missed chances on Thursday, Mickelson off to a good start and working to make a charge towards the weekend.

At the conclusion of his 6-under co-leading round on Thursday, Sergio Garcia reiterated his discomfort with Augusta National and talked about having the "mental strength" to get through the rest of the week. Well, his tenuous grip on the lead is already gone, as the Spaniard carded back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 3 and 4 to fall two shots back of Marc Leishman. While it's raining and the course is soft, conditions appear to be much more difficult than Thursday, and ANGC is utilizing some tough pin positions. So leader Marc Leishman (6-under) may come back to Sergio and the rest of the pack at 4-under once he gets out on the course.

Garcia has plenty of company so far, with only eight of the more than 50 players on the course in red numbers early on Friday. Matt Kuchar is one of those eight players, and he moved into solo second with a birdie at the par-5 second. Kuchar, a Georgia Tech alum, is completely comfortable at Augusta, and has a track record of success. He was the low amateur in 1998, finishing inside the top 25. He's been all over the TV shilling Grey Goose (an odd marriage), but many casual observers only know the name from occasional appearances on Masters leaderboards. But a Players Championship and Match Play win in the past two years has solidified his status as a top 25 player, and it's hard to see him going away before Sunday afternoon.

Phil Mickelson, who criticized the course conditions yesterday and called it a "birdie fest", is also one of the handful of players under par. Phil missed a chance at birdie on the par-5 second, but followed quickly with a red number on No. 3. Mickelson struggled early on Thursday, but got it rolling on the second nine with four birdies in a five-hole stretch. He said he wasted an opportunity at a low number on Thursday, given the conditions, but that he thought he found something coming in on the back side. With an early birdie, this could be the start of a big round and a charge towards the weekend for Phil.

Here's a current snapshot of the leaderboard, along with other notables out on the course:

Score Player Thru
-5 Matt Kuchar 3
-4 Sergio Garcia 6
-4 Dustin Johnson 6
-4 Trevor Immelman 10
-3 Fred Couples 5
-2 Phil Mickelson 3
E Adam Scott 6
2 Rory McIlroy 4
3 Tianlang Guan 8

More Masters from SB Nation:

Remixing the Masters

14-year old Tianlang Guan’s incredible day

Jim Nantz, our nation’s highest-paid tree

Tiger Woods never left

Who’s Mark Leishman?

Ian Woosnam is going the wrong way

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