AUGUSTA, Ga. – It isn’t often that you can four-putt for double-bogey, nearly do it again six holes later, and walk away with a smile.
Sort of sums up how beautifully Geoff Ogilvy is swinging at it, though.
“I knew I was playing well, so I just set out to go about my business,” Ogilvy said after he shook off a double-bogey at the par 5 second, a bogey at the par 5 eighth and shot a second straight 69 to get to 6 under 138 at the halfway point of the 75 Masters.
On the scorecard, the secret would be the birdies at six and seven and the bogey-free 33 coming home, but truthfully, the tall and lanky Aussie owes it to a personal comfort zone.
“I’ve worked out the golf-life balance,” Ogilvy said.
Having outplayed playing competitor Phil Mickelson (70-72 – 142) for two days, Ogilvy is just four off of Rory McIlroy’s lead, his best-ever standing through 36 holes in this major. But Ogilvy isn’t looking too far ahead, and that includes putting any thought into the chance to become the first Aussie to win the Masters.
“That’s probably not what I’m going to be thinnking about when I’m out on the golf course,” Ogilvy said.
OLD STORIES: It was 20 years ago when Ian Woosnam won his Masters championship, but he was hardly in the mood to stroll down Memory Lane. More likely, he couldn’t wait to get down Magnolia Lane and rest his aches.
“I wasn’t going to play because my hips are sore,” Woosnam, 53, said. “I was in Mississippi last week (for a Champions Tour tournament), but we had a buggy.”
Woosnam made just two birdies in shooting 78-77 to miss the cut for the ninth time in 10 years and he wasn’t about to speculate on what’s in the future regarding the Masters.
“But in a state like this, I wouldn’t play,” he said.
Craig Stadler, 57, and 29 years removed from his Masters win, was another who trudged away from the 18th hole with mixed emotions. With a 71 he was nine shots better than the day before, but he feels like he’s riding “a pogo stick” when it comes to this tournament.
“Yesterday, I felt like I would never play again,” Stadler said. “But today I could have shot in the 60s easily.”
Instead, he bogeyed two of the last three holes “to walk away with a lousy taste in my mouth.”
He said he enjoys the atmosphere and returning to celebrate his one major championship, but whereas most competitors are hitting 8- and 9-irons into the devilish green at the par 4 seventh Stadler required a 4-iron. Oh, and the hardest hole on the course, the par 4 11th? “Easy,” he said with a grin, “a simple driver and a 3-wood.”
Will he continue to play? Stadler shrugged his shoulders and said, “Who knows? I enjoyed today, but I didn’t enjoy (Thursday’s 80).”
THE TEACHER WON’T TAKE CREDIT: Tom Watson is another crowd favorite who didn’t come away pleased. While he shot 72 to improve by seven strokes over his opening round, the two-time champion missed the cut for the 12th time in the last 14 tries.
“It seems like this course is getting longer for me,” Watson said. “I keep coming up shorter and shorter and shorter.”
Watson did birdie three of the par 5s, but at 61 he concedes he’s here more to enjoy the festive atmosphere.
“These people have been coming here for years. They kind of recognize us old folks and I’m very grateful for their respect.”
Just don’t try and give him credit for guiding youngsters Rory McIlroy and Gary Woodland around Augusta National in practice rounds.
“I didn’t do a damn thing,” Watson said. “It’s fun to watch them. I remember when it was my first and second event, there’s an aura about the place and there’s a nervousness that you had when you played it.”
BIT OF A TRAFFIC JAM: Angel Cabrera, Ian Poulter, and David Toms headed off the 18th green and made their way toward the scoring hut when they were asked to stop. A discussion with Ryan Moore and the rules officials was ongoing, so the trio of players had to wait a minute.
A short time later, Moore was ushered by Fred Ridley, chairman of the competition committee, to the CBS compound to watch some TV replays. Disconcerting that it might have been, Moore was relieved to discover that he wasn’t going to be penalized for a situation at the par 5 13th.
His second shot had come to rest on the bank in front of the green and as Moore started to settle in over the ball, it apparently moved.
Moore called in an official, but no official judgement was given. Instead, he was told to play out the hole (he got it up-and-down for a birdie and went on to shoot 73 – 143) and told it would be further discussed after his round. That was part of the hold-up inside the hut, though the decision was finalized until everyone watched the replay inside the TV compound.
“We just wanted to make sure he didn’t ground his club (he didn’t) and that he hadn’t secured a stance,” said Mike Davis, the executive director of the U.S. Golf Association. “And he didn’t. So, no penalty.”
PENALTY WATCH, PART II: With a double-bogey at the par 3 12th and a round of 75 that dropped him to 1 under, it already was a rough day for Matt Kuchar. In the scorer’s hut, it got even worse.
“I’ve never seen Matt’s face so white as when they told him,” said Pete Kuchar, who was like everyone else, catching only snippets of the rules dilemma.
It seems that Kuchar’s caddie, Lance Bennett, asked for permission to look inside the hazard line for his player’s ball, which had plugged in the turf somewhere at the edge of the pond at No. 12. What officials were alerted to were reports that Bennett had touched the ground, which could be construed as “testing the condition.”
For a second time on this day, Ridley arrived early in the evening to whisk Kuchar and Bennett away to tournament offices where they talked out the situation and watched replays on TV. Finally, the ruling was made in Kuchar’s penalty; he was not assessed a two-stroke penalty and remained at 1 under.
“I’m comfortable with the decision we made,” Ridley said.
SCISSORS, PLEASE: When a long day’s action came to an end, 49 players had made the cut at 1 over, including Ernie Els. He backed up a 75 by shooting 2 under 70 to make it on the number. An eagle at 13, birdie at 14, and birdie at 15 proved to be enough to get Els into weekend play.
Among those who missed the cut were three of last year’s major winners – U.S. Open champ Graeme McDowell, Open Championship winner Louis Oosthuizen, and the world’s No. 1, PGA Champion Martin Kaymer.
Robert Allenby bogeyed the 18th hole to miss by one, Stewart Cink missed for a third straight year, Vijay Singh for a second straight time after having made 11 in a row, and Hunter Mahan missed the cut after having finished top 10 each of the last two years.
Others who missed: Lucas Glover, Zach Johnson, Sean O’Hair, Tim Clark, Padraig Harrington, Retief Goosen, Jhonnatan Vegas, and Franceso Molinari.
On the flip side, some players remained perfect when it comes to making the cut. Justin Rose and Ogilvy are both six-for-six, while Nick Watney is four-for-four, and Bubba Watson three-for-three.
Of the 20 first-time participants, eight made the cut, including Martin Laird, who bounced back from a 75 to shoot 69, which included birdies at both the par 4 10th and par 3 12th.
Others who made the cut in their first Masters: Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Charley Hoffman, Kyung-Tae Kim, Jeff Overton, Gary Woodland, and amateur Hideki Matsuyama.
GOOD GROUP, BAD GROUP: When Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, and Jason Day signed their scorecards, they were a combined 23 under for the tournament. Coming in right behind them were Retief Goosen, Mike Weir, and Hiroyuki Fujita and they were a combined 20 over for the tournament. That’s a tidy 43-shot swing in favor the young kids with no experience, folks.
SORE SPOT: Harrington disclosed that the painful Masters had more to do than his 77-72 efforts. He told reporters that he nearly withdrew before Thursday’s opening round because of a neck injury.
“I always have to be wary,” Harrington said. “I was swinging the lefthanded shot (Thursday morning), just warming up and it just kind of clicked and I’m not able to move to my right. Such is life.”
Harrington actually battled back to 3 over with a birdie at the par 5 13th, but he couldn’t make another, then he double-bogeyed the 18th for a second straight day.
QUIETLY MOVING FORWARD: It fits his demeanor, but Luke Donald is again doing quite well with very little fanfare. Having played his first 10 holes in 3 over, the Englishmen has gone 7 under for the next 26. At 4 under 140 he’s tied for 12th.
Another positive step was made when Ryo Ishikawa shot his second straight 71 to make the cut and get into a share of 20th at 2 under 142.
“This is my dream,” said the 19-year-old, who is playing with a heavy heart. His native land has been rocked by a second earthquake in a month.
“My family and friends are fine,” he said. “But I just feel for those people there.”
THE REAL NO. 99: The European who entered last and was issued that number sits at the top of the leaderboard (that would be Rory McIlroy), but it was another Euro, Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, who occupied the 99th spot in the standings.
It was wild enough that the former winner of the Players Championship played the par 5s in 1 over, but truly dumb-founding was his effort at the par 3 fourth. Put it this way: His double-bogey in Round 2 was his best score.
If you’re confused, don’t be, because Stenson established Masters history Thursday with a quintuple-bogey. It’s the worst-ever score at the fourth, which prompted the Swede to ask, “Do I get crystal for that?”
How’d he make an 8? By hitting it wide left and into bushes. It required four swings to advance it into play, then a pitch onto the green, and two putts to complete the hole.
Previously, four different players had made 7s.
LUSH AND PLUSH: The heart and soul of Augusta National – very fast greens – is still there, but what appears to have been added to the demanding mix this year is more grass. At least in the fairways and the fringe areas.
“There seems to be more grass in the shaded areas,” David Toms said. “A lot of times the golf course is a little thin because there’s so much shade. But there seems to be a lot more grass on the fairways in a lot of spots, so I would say it’s lush.”
Ogilvy was among those who pointed to grassier-than-normal fringe areas. That made it particularly difficult if you were just off the greens, because you were hitting through some sticky stuff onto quick greens.
EL PRESIDENTE: Perhaps the widest smile among the tens of thousands of patrons belonged to Gonzaga Escauriaza. He’s the president of the Royal Spanish Golf Federation and that afforded him plenty of reason to be happy. Spaniard Alvara Quiros shared the first-round lead and Escauriaza had just watched Miguel Angel Jimenez make the cut.
With Sergio Garcia having shot 69 Thursday, it was shaping up as a positive trip for Escauriaza.
“I’m here to give support, to watch their games,” he said. “They don’t need us, but we can help provide morale, perhaps.”
A TRADITION LIKE NO OTHER? NOT TO HIM: Asked if he had ever had a pimento cheese sandwich, South African Charl Schwartzel laughed.
“No, I haven’t,” he said.
Told that it was traditional fare here, he couldn’t respond, only laugh.