Another great day of golf is in the book at The Masters. At the moment we've got a 4-way share atop the leaderboard. Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Abraham Ancer, and Cameron Smith all took advantage of soft conditions this morning and early afternoon to jump to the top of the pack. Half of the field still has somewhere between 3 and 9 holes remaining and will have to finish their 2nd rounds early Saturday morning.
The course played surprisingly soft this morning and most of the day. I thought the good folks at ANGC would have firmed up the greens overnight after the course got obliterated yesterday. But as soon as I saw the group of JT/Fitzpatrick/Koepka come thru Amen Corner and have balls land soft on 12, I knew that wasn't the case. It looks a lot like they just let nature do its part and let the course dry out throughout the day. It remained scoreable well into the afternoon, but seemed to gain some teeth when the afternoon wave came out to play. Or at least it seems that way because only 2 of those guys have been able to push past -7.
Let's get to the action.
DJ and JT
These guys are the thoroughbreds that we easily expected to see here. DJ came out guns blazing this morning by wrapping up a 65 and jumping right back out there and birdieing the first two holes. He was two shots clear of the field at -9 and it honestly looked like he was going to run away with this thing like he did at the Northern Trust in August when he won by 11. When DJ gets hot, I don't think there's anybody better in the game. For the sake of this tournament, I'm glad he cooled off a bit and finished up at -9.
JT took a bit more of a different path to -9. He was -5 thru 10 and cruising toward a score in the low 60's when the horn sounded yesterday, and came out a bit cooler to finish up a 66. Bogeys on 10 and 13 to start his 2nd round found him all the way back at -4, but he stepped on the gas by birdieing 15, 16, 17, and 18. After doubling #1, he finished with birdies on 8 and 9 to finish his day. I've said it a hundred times this week. JT's iron play is next level. When the course gets firmer and controlling the ball with precision and spin becomes more of a factor, JT will have that much more of an advantage over the field.
I expect both of these guys to be there til the very end and I think one of these two will be your winner. Still think it's JT as his game better suits Augusta, but we'll see.
Abraham Ancer and Cameron Smith
If you're a casual golf fan, you may have heard of these guys but don't know much about them. Abraham Ancer has been on Tour for a couple years and has slowly been creeping his way up the OWGR leaderboard. The Mexican has worked his way up to #21 in the world, but still doesn't have a marquee win to his name and is playing in his first Masters. My favorite thing about him is actually his caddie. who I swear smokes an entire pack on each Nine.
Cameron Smith has been around a bit longer, but has actually only ascended as high as 24 on the OWGR rankings. He's currently sitting 45th after a bit of a shaky summer. The Australian did win the Sony Open early this year before the COVID break, and it looks like (similar to some others….) he's packed on a little bit of weight during the time off. I think his results were a bit shaky because of that, but he's starting to figure it out with an 11th place finish and a T-4 finish leading up to this week. Between the two, I like the Australian's chances a bit better to continue to contend as this is his 4th Masters and he's got pretty good results to his name. He's made the cut all 3 tries, including a T-5 two years ago. Plus he finished today's round absolutely scoring hot going eagle-birdie-birdie-birdie.
CT Pan punched his ticket to this year's Masters by winning the RBC Heritage allll the way back in April 2019. It's usually the first event after the Masters on Tour every year and always has a super weak field. He hasn't made a Top 10 since May '19 and has missed 15 cuts since. So I guess what I'm trying to say is this wee little fella is the last guy I would have expected to have shot an opening round 70 and follow it up with -5 thru 15 holes on Friday. His -7 number is 2nd highest of all the players in the afternoon wave and has him in the top 10. He's listed at 5'6 (I've seen him in person and 5'6 is a reach) and maybe 140 lbs soaking wet and he's killing the likes of Bryson Dechambeau. He won't win but he deserves his kudos for his performance thus far.
Bryson Dechambeau (Again)
Tough sledding for the beef boy, just like yesterday. Swing big, miss big as they say. His ball embedding on #3 was a ridiculously bad break. But you also can't ignore the possibility that maybe that ball doesn't plug if he isn't lifting weights and slugging protein shakes all year. Or ya know, if he just hit the ball straight. Just something to consider.
Despite that triple bogey (among numerous other errors), he still finds himself only a shot outside the cut with 17 feet left for eagle on #13. It looks a lot like he's going to survive, which means we get 36 more holes of his antics. Love it or hate it, he's absolutely appointment television and I can't wait to see what kind of shit he gets into over the weekend.
I simply do not care if you're -8 and one shot off the lead in the Masters. You just can't be caught in public wearing these shirts. They flat out stink. Cannot play with them, cannot win with them, cannot coach with them. Can't do it.
What started off as a promising Masters debut quickly went south for the youngster. He left the course yesterday having played his 11 holes in -4, and finished poorly and carded a 70. What's worse is that he followed that up with an ugly 77 in his 2nd round to put him well outside the cut. Wolff is only 21 years old and has a ton of game, so this will serve as a learning experience as he will play in many more of these.
The Tiger Woods Section
I didn't feel great about putting him in the "loser" category, and he's gotta be talked about somewhere. So he gets a category of his own. When you're the GOAT, you get privileges like that.
Tiger didn't really do anything to improve his chances of winning today. He certainly didn't do a lot to damage them either, but he did make an unforced error by 3-putting from 13 feet on #3 to end his bogey-free run. He had to grind on a few more holes to escape with par, so he had to work pretty hard to stay at that -4 number. But I do love the way he's driving the golf ball right now. Still looking free and fluid. He'll have to play 26 holes tomorrow, but that's okay. 5 shots off the lead is well within striking distance, and he's well known for saving his best for moving day. He's +2200 to win as we speak, so thru 28 holes that's a solid improvement from the +4500 odds he closed at on Thursday.
I thought this was the most "Augusta National" shot today. Just unreal touch and knowledge of the terrains here by JT
A close second. Classic Phil.
Cam Champ putting some serious zip on a flip wedge
Sungjae Im chipped in twice
And there ya have it. Another great day at The Masters.
We'll be back at it bright and early for Moving Day.