Early finishers go low, see opportunities at top
AUGUSTA, Ga. If Sunday’s early scores are any indication, we should be in for low scores Sunday at Augusta National. Softer greens, accessible hole locations and overcast, windless conditions are making birdies fairly easy to come by.
Sunday’s easier conditions led to some large turnarounds among players who had plummeted down the leaderboard amid firmer conditions Saturday, when players used words like “crusty” to describe the putting surfaces. Keegan Bradley closed with a 69 after his 82 the previous day. Sandy Lyle’s 71 was 10 shots better than the previous day’s score. Ryan Moore went 81-68 on the weekend. Ryo Ishikawa’s 68 was his first sub-70 score at Augusta National and eight shots better than Saturday’s score. Rory McIlroy shot 79-69 in the final two rounds. Michael Thompson’s 67 came after a Saturday 79.
"There's definitely some accessible pins," Moore said. "I think they want that and they like that. I think the greens got kind of on the brink yesterday afternoon, a few of them, and they may have actually put some water on them, and then you get this cloud cover on top of that and it just adds to more receptive greens. There's definitely a 5-, 6-, 7-under out there for the people at the top."
Phil Mickelson said Sunday’s scoring conditions were the easiest of the week. At 2:50 p.m., the scoring average for those who had finished their rounds was 71.9. The scoring average was higher than 73.0 in each of the three previous rounds.
“Somebody is going to go low today,” Mickelson said after his final-round 73. “The pins are in low spots, and the course is still receptive. And the greens are still at speeds you can be more aggressive at with your putter, and I think there are going to be a lot of birdies from the leaders, guys that are playing well.
"You've got to hit good shots and play well, but I thought out of the four days, I thought this was actually playing the easiest.”
The course could be further softened by Saturday afternoon rains. There’s at least a 35 percent of showers the rest of the afternoon.