AUGUSTA, Ga. — Welcome to the Masters morning rundown, your one-stop shop to catch up on the action from Augusta National. Here’s everything you need to know for the morning of April 13.
Tiger featured on packed leader board
A five-way tie for first, all of whom have a major title under their belt. Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele are one back, with Jon Rahm, Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler lurking. If that wasn’t enough, a certain 14-time major winner is in the mix. If that doesn’t get you going, get your heart checked.
Though rain paused the Friday proceedings at Augusta National, it did not delay the fireworks. Brooks Koepka, Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen, Francesco Molinari and Adam Scott are tied at seven under heading into Saturday, with Tiger Woods just one back.
Woods vaulted into contention by carding four birdies in an eight-hole stretch—and avoiding a chop block from a man in uniform (more on this in a moment)—to fire a four-under 68.
“I feel like I played my own way back into the tournament. I was just very patient today, felt very good to be out there doing what I was doing,” said Woods. “This is now three straight majors that I’ve been in the mix, and so it’s good stuff.”
Not that pulling off a major is ever easy, but the road ahead is especially daunting for Tiger. There is Scott, a former winner at Augusta. Oosthuizen, who’s had a runner-up at every major. Day, who—when remaining upright—can ball with anyone. Molinari, whose name in Italian means “assassin.” Johnson, who’s tied with Woods, can make this a runaway if he ever gets right with the putter.
Oh, and Koepka, the man who’s won three of his last six majors and is playing a level of golf not seen since…well, since Tiger in his prime.
“I think I’ve come up with a good game plan,” Koepka said. “I just know mentally that I’m going to be there, and no matter how bad I’m playing, no matter what’s going on, I’ll be able to find it. I really get excited. I know it doesn’t look it, but I’m always excited to get to the grounds and be there and ready to tee it up.”
Rain is in the forecast, but most are paying it no heed, as it’s always sunny at Augusta National. Strap in; 36 holes scintillating holes await.
Security guard almost takes out Tiger
Woods has survived his public life going public, swing changes, surgeries. Add an overeager guard to the list.
On the 14th Woods snapped his tree into the left loblolly pines. As they usually do, the gallery encircled Woods as he attempted his recovery, one that Woods pulled off with aplomb, putting it over the trees and onto the green.
Knowing the patrons, respectful as they are at Augusta National, would soon converge on Woods, the security detail converged on Tiger as he returned inside the ropes.
Only it wasn’t security they provided, as one of the guards took a tumble and nearly took out the 43-year-old:
Without revealing too much behind a curtain, let me assure you the media center had a collective aneurysm. And also made the same hacky “If that was Jason Day, he’d still be on the ground!” joke.
Luckily Woods avoided injury after this accidental Gillooly-esque takedown, and when Woods converted the birdie to produce one of those roars you only hear at Augusta, all was forgiven.
“I’m fine, it’s all good,” Woods said. “Accidents happen and move on.”
But if he win this event, his fifth green jacket and 15th major victory, the moment will be known as the “Trip heard ’round the world.”
Zach Johnson with the blooper of the year
The 13th at Augusta requires a long, right-to-left drive. Zach Johnson pulled off half that equation. Accidentally.
In of the the biggest bloopers in recent memory (non-injury division), Johnson unintentionally struck his teed ball on Friday, which ricocheted off the right marker, fell harmlessly in front of him on the box and conjured an “Oh ****” from Johnson.
Johnson was allowed to re-tee without penalty thanks to Rule 6.2b 5 (yep, that’s the naming convention) which states a stroke has not been made if the player accidentally strikes the ball when making a practice swing or while preparing to hit. His re-tee split the fairway, and Johnson ultimately made a birdie on the hole. But after the round, he remained dumbfounded how he pulled it off.
“I thought I had done it all but now I know I’ve done it all,” Johnson said. “Even when I tried to slice it, I still hook it. That’s kind of the joke of the group. I mean, toe push into the tee marker and then, you know, it was a nice little four foot draw it turned out.”
Spieth doesn’t know cut rule, makes weekend anyway
Jordan Spieth bounced back from a horrid Thursday round, turning in a four-under 68 to reach the weekend. Of course, Spieth was under the misguided impression that making said cut was easier than it is.
“I thought it was top 60 and ties, because I’ve never been anywhere near it,” Spieth said of the cut line. “So Michael (Greller) told me, it must have been on No. 15 or 16, and I’m like, ‘It’s 10 off the lead and 60, right?’ He goes, ‘No, it’s 50.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, good thing I probably didn’t know that.’”
Both an admission of ignorance and a humblebrag. That’s a heckuva two-fer to pull off.
Spieth’s Friday was a welcomed respite from his recent struggles, moving up 34 spots on the board. He’s six shots out of the lead, a deficit made more challenging with a crowd ahead. But Spieth feels he’s still in this rodeo.
“I mean as far as this tournament, if I can somehow cut it to three by Sunday, then I feel like I have a legitimate chance,” Spieth asserted.
You know, just in case we’re short on storylines.
Record number make the cut, except the World No. 1
Sixty-five players made the cut at the Masters, which is roughly three-quarters of the field, a new tournament record. This was a byproduct of the 10-shot rule, which overruled the aforementioned top 50 and ties benchmark.
Despite that generosity, a host of marquee attractions won’t be playing Saturday. Sergio Garcia has missed the cut for the second consecutive year after winning in 2017. Paul Casey, a popular dark horse, had his fate sealed after an opening-round 81. Local favorite Fred Couples also had an abrupt exit.
But the biggest name of this group is Justin Rose. Listed as one of the five Vegas favorites, Rose stumbled to a 75-73 to miss the cut by one. He’s just the fourth World No. 1 to miss the cut at the Masters, and the first since Martin Kaymer in 2011.