Masuda's Masters Mind: Friday at Augusta National
AUGUSTA, Ga. – If we could get all of our readers inside the gates at Augusta National, we would.
So the next-best thing we could think of is to use myself as your eyes and ears as the Masters wore on this week, providing some commentary, some one-liners, some observations – all from the course.
So continue to check back right here as I let you in on what is on my Masters mind throughout the day:
• NOW YOU KNOW HOW I FEEL . . . A day after Luke Donald's "pretty dumb mistake" on the ninth hole that led to a quadruple-bogey 8 – he grounded his club in a bunker before taking his shot for a two-shot penalty – it was the rest of his group Friday that was cursing the 9th hole. Bubba Watson bombed his driver down the left side, but hugged the trees a bit too much and found himself in the straw (and we all know that Bubba loves the straw at Augusta National). After a solid shot that fell off the back of the green, Watson failed to get up-and-down, fell out of the lead and picked up his first bogey of the tournament in the process. Ouch. But it wasn't nearly as bad as Sergio Garcia suffering the same fate despite finding the middle of the fairway off the tee, sending his approach into the crowd at the back of the green, sending his third shot about 35 feet past the hole and two-putting. The ninth hole was ranked 12th Thursday, but has moved to seventh today behind nine bogeys and two double bogeys.
• GONE WITH THE WIND? The winds are kicking up at Augusta National, with skies a bit more hazy than blue and the flags whipping in both directions. As the likes of Adam Scott, co-leader Bill Haas and Rickie Fowler get prepared to hit the course, are they in for a battle that would be difficult under benign conditions?
• DUDE, YOU GOT A MINUTE? Branden Grace can safely pack up his bags and head home for the weekend, mostly due to his 12-over 84 on Thursday. He followed with a 3-under 69 Friday – leading to a pair of reporters talking to him after the round. That was one thing that I would not have counted on at the beginning of the day.
• YOU'RE GONNA HEAR ME ROAR: Yes, we know that is a famous line from a Katy Perry pop song, but there is simply nothing like the deafening roars that you can hear from all corners of the massive layout. When Justin Rose made eagle at the par-5 8th, the roars even startled the patrons at the back of the 10th tee box. #Goosebumps
• EXCUSE ME, WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY? You can't walk more than 10 feet without hearing a unique accent or different language being spoken at Augusta National. In the 10 minutes standing behind the 18th green, there was Spanish, Swedish, Japanese, Mandarin and French all being spoken. Muy bien!
• GOTTA HAT IT TO YOU: On TV, you likely just see the sea of Masters hats, with that yellow outline of the U.S.A. and the red flag popping out of it. But what you might not get a glimpse of is the amount of caps on the course that represent colleges. Just a few that were spotted: Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgia Southern, Indiana, Michigan, South Carolina and, wait for it, Santa Clara. As a UC Santa Barbara grad, it was a bit disappointing not to see a Gauchos hat in the crowd. Ole, ole, ole … OK, I'll stop.
PHOTOS: Masters 2nd round, Friday at Augusta
See the action and emotion of Friday's second round of the Masters at Augusta National, the first major of the 2014 season.
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• OFF THE STRAW, NOTHING BUT BIRDIE: Marc Leishman is making some noise on the course right now after posting three consecutive birdies to start his round, but nothing was more impressive than his first one at the wickedly hard par-4 1st. After a wayward tee shot sent Leishman into the pine straw right of the fairway, he somehow navigated his ball to about 3 feet below the hole. A day after No. 1 saw only three birdies all day, it has already seen five today and we still have nearly 3 hours of tee times left!
• YEAH, THAT'S ABOUT RIGHT: Walking down the long, long, long, long path to the left of the second fairway, a group of patrons were merrily moving along when one of them blurted out, "Man, it feels like we are walking through a botanical garden." Dude, you are so right. Just don't expect many birdies to be flying around this garden with a brutal pin placement on the far left of the green. Going after it means flirting with a short-side bunker. On Thursday, there were only nine bogeys on the par 5. On Friday, there are already five.
• WHAT'S THAT I SMELL? If you've ever been to Augusta National, you will know what I am talking about here. There are circular signs all over the course that signal the walk ways for patrons. And when you brave one of these, it feels like a cross between walking around in New York City and being in an Irish pub. First, walk at your own peril, as you are likely to make a bit of contact with at least a dozen others. Second, either you love the smell of cologne/cigar smoke/heavy sunscreen, or you hold your breath a bit. The course will take your breath away regardless, so what's a few more seconds?
• BUBBA NOT SO VICIOUS? Augusta National can provide plenty of surprises, but maybe the biggest one is the calculated Bubba Watson, who has opened his 2014 Masters with 23 bogey-free holes. At the 350-yard par 4, I fully expected the bombing lefty to try and get at the green. Then I don't hear the "pop" of a driver. Wait, he laid up with iron? That's different. Whatever, man, it's working.
• IS THAT COLIN MONTGOMERIE, OR AM I HALLUCINATING? Forgive me, as the sun at Augusta National can hit the ol' noggin and make me see things that might not be there. But I am pretty certain that longtime competitor Colin Montgomerie was outside the ropes walking his way up the first hole. Not a sight you see every day.