Sergio Garcia
Garcia chasing his first major and sits joint top at the half way point in Augusta. Reuters

Sergio Garcia could be in contention to win his first career major after storming up the leaderboard to share a clubhouse lead at the half-way point of the Masters at Augusta.

Garcia, 37, carded a three-under par 69 to finish the day four under, where he joined Charley Hoffman, whose opening round lead was wiped out after he shot a three-over 75 on the second day of action.

Rickie Fowler and Belgian Thomas Pieters sit alongside them at the summit. Justin Rose meanwhile sits three shots off the lead with Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth both finishing the day level.

Garcia gained significant ground on overnight leader Hoffman on another breezy day at Augusta where he started six shots behind the American. The Spaniard recorded bogeys on the 10th and 13th holes but responded with birdies on the 15th and 17th to close the gap in what is his 19th Masters.

He might have taken an outright lead on the final hole, but watched his six-foot birdie attempt roll agonisingly wide.

Garcia has regularly challenged for major honours and has remained within touching distance of the top 10 since bursting onto the scene as a prodigious teenager backed to rival Tiger Woods for golfing dominance. But while he has nine PGA Tour wins to his name, a major triumph has remained out of his grasp.

With Garcia chasing a career first major, Rory McIlroy's hopes of becoming just the sixth man to win all four majors remain just about alive. The world no. 2 sits one over par after carding 73 in a round where he recorded five bogeys, but just about managed to keep himself in contention.

The Northern Irishman needs an excellent third round to climb his way back up the leaderboard but is confident he can close the gap. "There are still 36 more holes left to go – a long way in this tournament and I know what can happen, good and bad around this golf course.," McIlroy said. "A couple of years ago over the weekend I shot ten under par on the weekend.

"Anything's possible out there but I feel like I'm playing well enough and I'm in a good frame of mind where I can go out there and attack and make some birdies.

Elsewhere, defending champion Danny Willett missed the weekend cut, with Bubba Watson, Zach Johnson, Jim Furyk and Henrik Stenson among the other high profile names going home early.