Passing The Quarter Pole
Saturday at Augusta National went pretty much to script as far as I’m concerned. Bubba couldn’t hold or extend his lead, Freddie didn’t make a charge, and red hot players like Fowler and Kuchar did enough to get themselves back into contention. Miguel Jimenez’ blistering 66 and Jordan Spieth’s heady 70 were the two guys that did what I didn’t expect them to do. The Mechanic’s round really came out of nowhere. It was completed before CBS even came on the air, that’s how far back he was after 36 holes. He only made the cut by a shot. I expected Spieth to drop back on Saturday. That’s been his trend in 2014, and a 20 year old in his first Masters…..he had 76 written all over him in my eyes.
Now both players are one step closer to wearing a green jacket. So are about 15 other guys not named Watson or Couples, because those two of course already have a jacket hanging in their space in the Champion’s locker room. The home stretch is now in front of us and this is indeed a horse race with several thoroughbreds running wide to the finish at the final turn. Who’s going to take the whip and stick their nose out over the finish line of the year’s first major?
The Case For And Against Bubba
Gerry “Bubba” Watson shooting 74 on Saturday isn’t a death sentence for his run at another green jacket. Case in point, he didn’t score well and he’s still tied for the lead and playing in the final group on Sunday. That means something when about 17 of the last 20 champs at Augusta have come from the final group. Don’t quote me on that number, but it is near there. A closer look at Bubba’s Saturday round shows that he really didn’t play poorly. He missed his spots on a few holes and left himself in some goofy places to negotiate a par from. All errors must have been caddie Ted Scott’s fault. Bubs is really the only guy remaining of the contenders that is essentially playing a par 68. He will hit iron for his 2nd shot on every par 5 to reach the green. That huge advantage shouldn’t be under estimated.
His real issue was with his putter. His balky stroke that looks like a jerky deceleration sneaked back into his bag over the last 10 to 12 holes. There’s no way he should make pars on those back nine par 5s hitting drives like he did. He knows he left a few out there, but he also knows he got his bad round out of the way. I think he’ll be right in the hunt in the closing holes on Sunday. Will he have the chops to win? We’ll have to wait and see how Jesus feels about that. I think the best thing for him might be someone getting out to a hot start to take the nerves off of Watson as the leader. We know he doesn’t play well as the front runner. His track record is clear in this regard.
Sell Spieth Stock
Only for a short term gain that is. The young Texan is on the verge of a superstar career (no shit). But I’m having a hard time thinking tomorrow will be his break through performance. The pressure of the back nine on Sunday at the Masters is going to be too much for him. Fuck, I’m correct about as much as a broken clock, but Jordan’s never been anywhere close to this situation. Rory had a 4 shot lead 3 years ago and look what happened to him.
I’m not predicting an 80, and he may very well win tomorrow, but smart money says otherwise. Whatever happens, Jordan will learn tons just from the experience and grow from it. I think Rickie Fowler will suffer a similar fate as Spieth tomorrow. For either to win a Masters at this stage of their careers is asking too much.
The Rapist…ERRRRR…… The Mechanic
Miguel Jimenez, the man, the myth, the legend. How many 50 somethings can shoot 66 on the weekend in Augusta? Three. Hogan, Fred Couples, and the Mechanic. That’s a pretty solid group of old golfers. While his 66 was good for the low round of the tourney to this point, I find it hard to believe that he could back that up with a round of 69 or better on Sunday. He’s old. He shot his load. 73 sounds about right.
He won’t go away easily. He’ll fight like the killer in a horror movie to stay alive, but eventually the golf course will beat him. Miguel hits it about 50 yards or more shorter than Bubba Watson. That’s a huge disadvantage to have to over come and it’s looms even larger when playing a course with four par 5s like Augusta National’s.
If not Bubba Watson, I think the winner will come out of the pack by posting something low and watching challengers on a television in Butler Cabin. Kuchar would be the exception here as he’ll be the second to last group on the courese. A 68 or better from Matt could be enough to earn his first major. I have no fucking clue what to expect from guys like Furyk, Blixt, Bjorn, and Westwood. I think they’re all wildcards in this thing. Westie and Jim’s track record’s say to bet against them, but both are resilient and glutton for heartbreak. My gut says both play well enough to be edged out right at the end.
That guy, yeah him….right there. Look out for him. Through 12 holes in round 1 Justin Rose was 6 over par. Missing the cut was inevitable. Now he’s 2 under and 3 back of the lead. Simple math should tell you that Rosie is 8 under over his last 42 holes. He’s close enough to see the leaders, playing well, and far enough down the leaderboard to be under the radar. After winning at Merion last year he knows how to close on a Sunday in a major. I expect JR to be in the thick of the hunt as he plays the back 9 of the final round.
Rors And The Marker
Because an odd number of players made the cut for the weekend at the Masters, the guy in DFL had to play with a non-competitive marker on Saturday morning. The Men of the Masters make it so, you can’t say no thank you and play as a single. Therefore, Rory McIlroy played with ANGC club champion Jeff Knox.
Word circulated quickly after the first twosome had finished that Knox beat Rory by a shot (70 to 71) even though he three putted the final hole. I hope he records that for his handicap. It would likely be about a +7 differential to the course rating. Rory thought Knox missed his 69th shot on purpose just to try to halve the match and show sportsmanship.
This isn’t Knox’ first rodeo. He’s played as a marker several times over the years and many players are aware of who he is and his reputation. Jim Furyk even stated that Knox could beat half the field that makes the cut any given year. Knox reportedly played with Sergio Garcia in 2006 and Garcia asked to make a bet on their round to keep things interesting. Garcia lost and didn’t shake Knox’ hand afterwards. Yup, a dick is always a dick.
From The Quarter Pole To A Quarter Poll
So who ya got? It’s Sunday with every thing on the line. Thoroughbreds and savvy veterans grace the leaderboard. If you had to make a $100 bet on a player to come out on top tomorrow, who would you take? Weigh in via the poll and lets see how smart SFG readers are. I’ll take Kuchar, just because, but ask me after my Sunday breakfast and I might just switch the pick to Rose.