Notes: Bradley struggles to 77 in 2nd round

Keegan Bradley reacts to his second shot on the first fairway during the second round the Masters.

Keegan Bradley reacts to his second shot on the first fairway during the second round the Masters.

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Hilton Head, SC - Harbour Town Golf Links

12:24:01 AM ET. 04/17/2014




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AUGUSTA, Ga. – For nearly every step of the way in this, his sophomore season on the PGA Tour, Keegan Bradley has been rock solid. When it was suggested that he hadn’t played a bad round yet, he clenched his teeth.

“Well,” he said, “I made up for that today.”

Having rushed from the scorer’s house to the practice green, Bradley needed the solitude under a cloudless sky and a gentle warmth to decompress after shooting a 5-over 77 that barely enabled him to squeak into the weekend of the Masters.

“Easily the worst I’ve played this year,” said Bradley, who on day one after opening with a 71 to sit in a share of 14th tumbled down the leaderboard. Passed by 33 players, Bradley sits halfway home in a tie for 46th.

Now it could be considered surprising, given that Bradley had been in the 60s for 20 of his first 33 stroke-play rounds and had brought a 69.44 scoring average to rank fourth into the week. But then again, he’s a Masters rookie, and it isn’t often that first-timers shine at this venue.

“But I wouldn’t blame it on being my first time,” Bradley said. “I did misread a couple of putts, a couple of 8-footers that I thought were a cup right-to-left but were instead a cup left-to-right.

“Still, I just didn’t get any confidence.”

Bradley was especially upset with a day in which he played the par 5s at level par.

- Jim McCabe

• • •

MR. CLUTCH: Justin Rose stood to the side, watching Trevor Immelman size up an approach into the 18th green.

“I told my caddie (Mark Fulcher), ‘This guy is clutch; watch this’,“ Rose said.

Sure enough, Immelman ripped a 5-iron from about 200 yards that tracked the flagstick all the way. Hitting 15 feet behind the hole, Immelman’s ball drifted back to just 3 feet. With a closing birdie, he made the cut on the number.

“I hope it’s good enough,” said the 2008 winner of the green jacket, “because I’ve worked my ass off.”

More than an hour later, it was confirmed that Immelman, at 78-71, had made the cut at 5 over.

Rose, for one, was thrilled.

“Like I told Fulch, (Immelman) is clutch. When he has a sniff, his focus narrows. That’s why he’s a major champion.”

Rose didn’t have to sweat it out quite like his friend, but he, too, birdied 18. That left Rose at 72, and with level par, he’s T-24 and just five off the lead.

- Jim McCabe

• • •

TOP MAN SNEAKS IN: Overshadowed by those ranked below him, No. 1 Luke Donald didn’t help his cause by barely getting into the weekend. He backed up an opening 75 not with thunder, but with an indifferent 74 to get through 36 holes at 4 over, tied for 47th.

Hardly the sort of effort he expected of himself, but he remains optimistic.

“Nine strokes is a long way back,” Donald said. “But I’ll go out early on good, fresh greens and try to shoot 67 or 66.”

- Jim McCabe

• • •

IT HURTS: His glory days may long be over, but even at 62 and in his 39th Masters, Tom Watson couldn’t hit the pin.

“It’s disappointing, very disappointing,” said the two-time Masters champ after finishing bogey-bogey to miss the cut by two.

Having birdied 15 and made par at 16 to sit at 5 over, “I knew what I had to do, and I didn’t do it,” Watson said.

He drove it poorly at 17 and made bogey, then pushed his drive slightly right at 18. It called for a big cut around the corner, but it was a 3-wood length, “and I don’t have that shot.”

Closing with a 74, Watson missed the cut for the 13th time in the last 15 years. When asked how many more of these he would play, he smiled.

“That’s a good question,” he said.

- Jim McCabe

• • •

DIFFERENT YEAR, SAME STORY: Bernhard Langer is another former champion who missed the cut, though it wasn’t pretty.

Having opened with a 72, Langer ballooned to an 80 that included a pair of double bogeys on the back nine par 5s. For the tournament, he played the par 5s in 2 over.

Langer hasn’t shot better than 77 in any of his last five second rounds here, a big reason he has missed the cut in each of the last six Aprils.

- Jim McCabe

• • •

HE DIDN’T GO TO HIS STRENGTH: A day later, it was still hard to get away from the fact that Tiger Woods let Thursday’s round get away from him. He birdied the 10th to get to 2 under and with the par 5s – 13 and 15 – still to come, it was legitimate to think that he was headed comfortably into red numbers.

But Woods made only par at 13 and 15, and that in itself was stunning.

How so?

Consider that you had to go back to the final round in 2008 to find when Woods did not birdie either 13 or 15 in the same day. In the 12 rounds between then and Thursday, Woods had made 18 birdies, two eagles and four pars at those holes, a whopping 22 under.

Then, even crazier, Woods made par at 13 and 15 in Round 2, so for the first time in his pro career, he went the first two rounds without a birdie at the back nine par 5s.

As a pro, Woods came into this year having played 15 Masters – 60 rounds – and he had failed to birdie 13 or 15 on just four occasions. In those 60 rounds, Woods had recorded 7 eagles, 75 birdies, just five bogeys and two doubles – all of which made him a head-shaking 80 under at the inward par 5s.

- Jim McCabe

• • •

CLEAN GOLF BALLS? HOW UGLY: Much has been made about the mud that is being picked up on the balls as players navigate a wet and soft Augusta National. But while some players might moan about not implementing lift, clean and place – an absurd request, given that it never has been put into effect in a major championship – cheers to Mark Wilson for calling it as it is.

“I hate when we play lift, clean and place (on the PGA Tour),” he said. “It just doesn’t look right.”

Asked if he thought it was fair for a player to hit a drive into the middle of the fairway, yet be faced with a mud ball, Wilson shrugged.

“It’s part of the game. You just have to suck it up.”

- Jim McCabe

• • •

LESSON LEARNED: Good players understand they need to learn Augusta National before they can succeed at the Masters. On Friday, Sweden’s Peter Hanson got an education on how difficult Augusta National can play when there’s just a little wind.

The four-time European Tour winner had played only two competitive rounds in the Masters, missing the cut last year after a 72-76. But on Thursday, the No. 25-ranked player in the world made great strides with a 4-under 68 to move to within one shot of Lee Westwood’s overnight lead.

At the same time, Hanson knew Augusta could always rear up and bite the Swede. And in Round 2, it did.

"It was playing tough,” Hanson said after a 2-over 74 that included two double bogeys. “I just don’t have a lot of experience playing this course in the wind. It’s pretty much the first time.”

With winds of 15-20 mph and gusts of up to 25 mph, Hanson was bewildered. His White Knight came in the form of Phil Mickelson, his playing competitor.

Mickelson had struggled in the first round but made two birdies coming in to salvage a 2-over 74.

On Friday, Mickelson still struggled but turned a 74 or worse into a 4-under 68. In the process, he gained a student and a fan.

“I had a great guy to learn from today in Phil,” Hanson said. “He just took his time and stood over shots, waiting for the right wind to pick up and then played his shot.”

Hanson misjudged the wind multiple times. For example, on the 11th hole he thought the wind was out of the left when it was out of the right. Welcome to Amen Corner.

He also made mistakes with the wind on the 13th and 16th, but got away with the mistake at the par-3 16th with a long two-putt. Perhaps the most telling lesson came on the par-4 14th hole, which is sandwiched between the two par 5s on the back nine.

Hanson hit the green in regulation but was left of the hole. He was left with an impossible putt, which he put to 10 feet before making bogey on the hole.

Mickelson, on the other hand, was playing from the trees, but instead of leaving himself in a bad position on the green, hit his second shot right of the green and had an easy chip up the hill for a simple par.

“Phil’s short game and attitude are unbelievable,” Hanson said. “Those are his two best strengths - the way he gets out of trouble when he is out of position.”

- Alex Miceli

• • •

SLIPPING INTO OBSCURITY: Mike Weir won the 2003 Masters in a playoff over Len Mattiace. That seemed so long ago as the Canadian reluctantly talked about his second-round 79.

In August of 2011, Weir had surgery to repair a tendon in his right elbow that had been physically hurting him and his game for the later part of 2010 and all of 2011.

Since the surgery, Weir has tried to come back, but it has been difficult.

Ranked as the 26th-highest Canadian in the world is a misnomer, as Weir is ranked 1,284th in the world. After missing the cut, Weir will fall further into world-ranking obscurity, having not earned a single Official World Golf Ranking point since he finished T-55 at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in 2010.

“Things were coming along nicely yesterday,” Weir said of his even-par 72 in Thursday’s first round. “I really struggled today for some reason. I didn’t putt well, either, and that combination adds up to not a very good score.”

In his last eight rounds, Weir has recorded just one round under par, a 71 in the opening round of 2010, and in the same time period recorded two 76s, a 77 and two 79s.

“I never got in a nice flow with my game,” Weir said as he was already mentally thinking of playing Hilton Head next week. “That’s what I was saying, just kind of playing from behind, chasing a few things is tough on this course. I just kind of got a little unsettled and just never kind of got settled back in.”

Next week is another try for Weir to make a cut. After Hilton Head, Weir is in Quail Hollow and Memorial.

“That’s nice to know that I can get in a few here,” Weir said playing on the PGA Tour versus the European Tour where you have to commit three weeks in advance. “So it does give me some options to stay over here and play a little bit, which would be nice. I’d like to ‑‑ I’ll enjoy playing over there, there’s some nice tournaments to play this summer over there, but I’d prefer to keep things going here if I can.”

- Alex Miceli

• • •

THIS 'N THAT: Jason Day cited a foot problem for his withdrawal seven holes into Round 2. At the time he was 5 over for the tournament . . . . . The good news is, Sandy Lyle came home with four consecutive pars. The bad news is, the previous 32 holes consisted of 13 bogeys and four doubles as he shot 86-78 to miss the cut . . . . . Woods opened his Round 2 with just the fifth birdie he’s ever made at the first hole . . . . . In his first Masters appearance since 2007, Darren Clarke made just two birdies and played the par 5s in 1 over to miss the cut with rounds of 73-81 . . . . . Mark Wilson shot 76-78 and has missed the cut in each of his two appearances in the Masters. Still, “if I come here every year and miss the cut, it means I’m doing something right (on the PGA Tour),” he said.

- Jim McCabe

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