Reed posted a blistering 6-under 66 which included a 5-under front nine of 31, just eclipsing Leishman’s own sterling 67, to be 9- under and comfortably ahead.
A full recap of Leishman's play and that of the other Australians can be found here
But the hero of the US Ryder Cup team can’t afford to stumble with the chasing pack including Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Henrik Stenson, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler.
Reed threatened to run away with the tournament Friday but a late bogey at 16 and scrambling pars at 17 and 18 kept the hopes of the field alive.
The performance is somewhat of a surprise as his previous four appearances here have resulted in two missed two cuts and produced a best of T22 in 2015.
Prior to this week, he was yet to shoot a single round in the 60’s but after his opening 69 the 27-year-old produced a career day with the putter as he amassed nine birdies against two bogeys in his 66.
The day began in shocking fashion with the play of overnight leader Jordan Spieth who opened with a double bogey and compounded the error with another dropped shot at the par-5 next.
Another bogey at the seventh saw him turn in 40 strokes and seemingly in freefall but he regathered to shoot 2-under 34 on the inward journey and be sharing third place by day’s end.
“It was just two swings early in the round and then a pretty good fight back on the back nine,” he said after the round.
Spieth’s eventual 74 was far from fatal, though, despite there being several sub-par rounds returned later in the day.
World Number One Johnson added a 68 to his opening 73 to be 3-under while McIlroy felt his 71, to be 4-under, could have been better.
“I feel like I left a couple out there on 17 and 18,” he said. “I feel like I could have shot something in the 60s but I’m pretty pleased with how I played.”
Like Reed, Henrik Stenson has historically struggled at Augusta but with rounds of 69-70 finds himself alone in third place at 5-under.
The player facing the most scrutiny ahead of the week was Tiger Woods who produced some of the worst golf of his short comeback in a 3-over 75 that has him 13 shots off the pace .
The four-time Masters winner knows he’s mathematically unlikely to contend Sunday but clearly hasn’t given up yet.
“I’m going to have to shoot a special weekend - and I need help,” he said. “I’m not in control of my own destiny here I’m so far back.”
MARC LEISHMAN IS IN EXCELLENT POSITION AHEAD OF THE WEEKEND AT THE MASTERS:
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