AUGUSTA, GA – A breeze that seemed at times to be commanded by ghosts holding a grudge confounded players during much of the second round of the 86th Masters Tournament, making club selection difficult and under-par scores a precious commodity.

But the punishment wasn’t meted out equally, and the hottest player in golf, world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, took full advantage of his good fortune with a comprehensive display of his talent. Winner in three of his last five starts, Scheffler took a giant step toward making it four out of six.

Teeing off in the last starting time and playing a portion of his round after the wind had calmed down a bit, Scheffler shot 67 to forge a record-tying, five-stroke lead through 36 holes, well positioned for a major title in his third Masters appearance.

He matched a midway Masters margin held by Harry Cooper (1936), Herman Keiser (1946), Jack Nicklaus (1975), Raymond Floyd (1976) and Jordan Spieth (2015). All except Cooper went on to win.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge of tomorrow, but I wouldn’t say much changes,” Scheffler said. “I’m still playing the golf course. There’s still 50 guys, or something like that, in the field and I can’t worry about what those guys are doing. I’m just going to go out and play my game and just keep doing what I’m doing.”

Scheffler, whose sterling amateur career hadn’t led to a PGA Tour victory until he won in Phoenix two months ago, is at eight-under 136, with defending champion Hideki Matsuyama, the 2011 champion Charl Schwartzel, Sungjae Im and Shane Lowry tied for second place at 141.

Dustin Johnson, who won a Green Jacket in 2020, Harold Varner III, Kevin Na and Cameron Smith are tied for sixth at two under.

Only six golfers broke 70—Scheffler, Justin Thomas (67), Lowry (68), Matsuyama (69), Schwartzel (69) and Hudson Swafford (69)—a day when the scoring average was 74.607, almost a stroke higher than in the opening round.

Five-time champion Tiger Woods, playing his first official event in almost a year and a half after being sidelined with leg and foot injuries, battled back from four bogeys in the first five holes to shoot 74 for 145, making the cut for the 22nd consecutive time. Jordan Spieth, the 2015 champion, had made the cut in each of his eight starts but won’t play the weekend this time, shooting 76 after a triple bogey on No. 12 and a double bogey on No. 18.

Stewart Cink missed the cut, too, but got a nice consolation prize: a hole-in-one on the par-3 16th from 166 yards with an 8-iron and son/caddie Reagan by his side. Cink’s ball took a hard left down the slope after landing and rolling 25 feet into the cup for the 24th hole-in-one at the 16th in Masters history, and this one came on Reagan’s birthday.

Cink’s ace was a good break on a day when the considerable gusts made things difficult. “It’s a lot of guessing, a lot of trusting what you are going to do,” said Collin Morikawa, whose 70 left him at 143 in a tie for 10th place.

Whether a player had to bear the brunt of the breeze depended on his tee time. Those who went off early encountered calmer conditions toward the beginning of the round; the opposite was true of later starters. Nobody, however, got off easy.

“I definitely feel like I was in a fight today,” said Scheffler, who overcame bogeys on two of the first three holes as he made birdies on six of his last 12 holes without a blemish on his scorecard during that stretch. A par save on No. 11, which was playing very hard, was pivotal. “Today was pretty important,” he said. “I want to put myself in positions to win tournaments, and that’s what’s fun for me. That’s what I’ve done the first two days here, and hopefully I’ll keep things moving this weekend.”

Scheffler had an all-around good day Friday, hitting 12 of 14 fairways, and 13 of 18 greens while needing only 26 putts. As he has throughout his recent hot streak, he exuded an easy command of his game.

“I feel like I’ve been very committed to my shots,” he said of his mindset of late. “I’ve done a really good job mentally of just setting up to the shots and accepting hitting bad ones and being fully committed to hitting good ones.”

The 25-year-old Scheffler, who followed Spieth to become a star at the University of Texas, secured his record-tying halfway lead with a par on the 18th after punching his approach through a gap in the trees to the right of the fairway.

“I’ve always enjoyed being able to hit shots out of the trees,” Scheffler said. “I got way too much experience with that in college with how I drove the ball. It’s one of those things that’s just fun.”

Just like the last two days, and possibly the next two.

Scheffler has been paired with Woods and three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson in his previous appearances at Augusta National, observing how they went about their business.

“I learned a lot just by watching those guys manage their way around the course,” Scheffler said. “I’ve seen tons of highlights and plenty of stuff, and I feel like I’m constantly learning about this place.”

Others will be learning from him, if he keeps doing what he’s done.