Day 2 of the Masters is under way as the first few groups are beginning to make their ways around the hallowed grounds of Augusta National.
9:31 a.m. No huge moves to report in the early going, though Brian Bateman dropped two shots on the first two holes to fall to 1 under, but has since gotten back to minus-2.
The daily watch of Brandt Snedeker begins (check yesterday’s post for the reasons why) with a par at the first hole as he remains one shot back of the lead, held by Justin Rose, who tees off at 2:03 p.m., and Trevor Immelman, who is still at 4 under through four holes.
Tiger Woods tees off at 1:52 p.m. while Phil Mickelson goes off at 10:34 a.m.
9:48 a.m. Speaking of Snedeker, he birdies the par-5 second and is now back among the co-leaders. Once again, I’ll be checking objectivity at the door for the next four hours.
11:01 a.m. I am close to being downright insufferable at this point. Snedeker follows up his second-hole birdie with birds at 6 and 7, storming into the lead by himself in a major for the first time in his brief PGA Tour career. Snedeker, the 2007 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, leads Immelman by one shot, at 6 under.
The par-5 8th presents another birdie opportunity, and obviously, there are chances at 13 and 15. Snedeker may have a huge advantage teeing off so early in the morning, but give him credit, he’s making the most of that opportunity.
Mickelson is off and has parred No. 1 and is now five shots back.
11:29 a.m. Steve Flesch — something about lefties at Augusta lately, — has made the big move of the morning thus far, eagling 13 to got to 4 under and two shots back of Snedeker, who parred 8.
11:33 a.m. And here comes the Lefty of all lefties. Mickelson birdies 2 and 3 and is now at 3 under, another guy who can really make his tournament thanks to a beneficial tee time in the second round. Lefty is three back of Snedeker and Immelman, who birdied the brutal 11th. The roars are reemerging at Augusta National.
12:44 p.m. Snedeker and Immelman continue to coast along, now leading Flesch just one slim shot. Lefty is hanging around as well, about to tee it up on 8 at 3 under and very much in the thick of things. A good scoring day has slowed a little, but low numbers might be had today.
12:59 p.m. Look out for Lefty. The signature round of the day may be coming. Mickelson birdied 8 to move to 4 under, 3 under for the day and just two shots back of the lead. Snedeker misses a chance to go lower by parring 13, but I’m guessing he’d take it. Flesch got into the house a 5-under 67 and is alone in second place — for the time being.
1:03 p.m. And Immelman, who has a history of playing well here in the early rounds, moves to 7 under and into the lead by himself after a birdie on 17. He could post the number, and one has to begin to wonder if 10-12 under will win this year after 1 over was good enough to do it last year.
1:18 p.m. Despite a birdie-bogey start, Retief Goosen is on the move after birds at the par-3 6th and at No. 10, moving to 3 under and four back. Goosen hasn’t been the same since he famously imploded in the final round to give away the 2005 U.S. Open in Pinehurst, but he’s always good in Augusta. And since the course continues to resemble an Open-type setup, he should contend.
It is more than you can say for Ernie Els right now, who’s 1 under for the day and 1 over for the tournament, through 8 holes.
1:23 p.m. A birdie-birdie finish for Immelman, who will likely find himself leading after 36 holes at 8 under.
2:23 p.m. Snedeker bogeyed 16, but came back to finish with birdies on 17 and 18, just like Immelman (who sounds a lot — A LOT — like countryman Goosen in interviews) to hit the house at 7 under, one shot back of the lead. I hope he sleeps tonight, because I might not.
Meanwhile, Woods has started his round with a big birdie on the first, hitting his approach through trees and to the fringe, where he holed the putt to move to 1 under. But he inexplicably bogeys the par-5 second after driving in the fairway to fall back to even.
Lefty is taking care of his round, remaining at 4 under. He could get to 6 before the end of the day and be the favorite heading into the weekend.
3:41 p.m. Lefty makes good on what is beginning to become one of the key birdie holes of the day — the 17th — and then has an 11-footer slide by on 18 to finish his second round at 68, 5 under for the tournament and just three back of the lead.
Tiger is still scuffling, essentially three-putting the 6th — the first putt was off the green, but he missed the 5-foot par putt — to fall to 1 over and now nine shots back. He needs to make something happen between 8 and 15 today or he may be in trouble.
A trio stands at 4 under, including Stephen Ames, who is hard to take seriously after he folded like a deck on cards in the final pairing at a major last year. Paul Casey is also in the house at 4 under while Ian Poulter is 4 under through 14. Both are certainly capable, but on the major stage? Nobody knows for sure right now.
3:58 p.m. Looking back on Mickelson’s round, fans can start to get excited. Even though he hit 11 of 14 fairways in round one and was hitting greens was well, he had 32 putts, and that’s not going to get it done at Augusta.
But look at his second round coupled with that. He had four birdies and no bogeys. No bogeys for Phil Mickelson?! What that means is that he playing under control, he isn’t taking wild chances, taking instead what the course is giving him rather than trying to make things happen. While Immelman and Snedeker are emerging players, Lefty is in another class, and he knows it. He’s the de facto leader in the clubhouse right now.
If he stays under control, he could be in line for a third green jacket and back in the conversation as a credible rival to Woods.
4:31 p.m. Woods came back with a nifty bounce near the green at 8 and set himself up for a makeable eagle and settled for a birdie, getting back to even par.
The wind appears to be enough of a hindrance to make things that much more difficult on the players, and you can bet that the greens are firming up.
Poulter moves to 5 under with a tidy birdie at 16, flying a pretty 8 iron to about 7 feet and making the putt. How about the matching pink pants and shoes?
5:08 p.m. Amateur Michael Thompson may not make the cut, and he may not ever be remembered, but after addressing his ball on a makeable birdie putt on 15, he called a penalty on himself after the ball moved ever so slightly. Only he could have seen it move, and yet he stopped play, called over the rules official, remarked, moved the ball back and missed the putt for a six. The bogey, which easily could’ve been a birdie without the one-shot penalty, moves him two shots above the current cut line, but he just won the hearts of golf fans and the golf gods everywhere. A cruel moment, but a standup guy.
You can bet playing partner and two-time Masters winner Ben Crenshaw will have some very kind words to say to the young man that he will never forget.
Meanwhile, Tiger three-putts again on the tought 10th, and he’s back to 1 over. It’s worrying time.
5:41 p.m. We almost saw the last of Gary Player at the Masters. He said that if he didn’t break 80- today, he wouldn’t be back.
But he shot 78. He’s only 72, you know.
6:07 p.m. After a big par save at 11, Woods birdies 13, moving him back to even He needs to make something happen here, and these are the holes to do it on.
6:29 p.m. Woods just has to hope to make par on 15 now. After spraying his tee shot into the woods on the right, he punches out, but goes through the fairway and into the first cut on a downslope. Ugh.
6:41 p.m. Woods gets his par on 15, which is like dropping a shot, but if he can just get hot for a three-hole stretch, he’ll be right in the thick of this. The last three holes have given up quites a few birdies today.
6:55 p.m. Justin Rose, who joined a list that included Arnold Palmer and Player as three-time first-round leaders at the Masters, just gave away his chance at contending this year.
Already 2 over on his round for the day and 2 under for the tournament, Rose gave up the opportunity to go for the 15th in two shots and elected to lay up, even though he blasted a drive. But then he chunked his third shot into the creek and skulled his fifth over the green. The result? A triple bogey 8. See ya, Justin.
7:02 p.m. Hello, golf. Woods finally sticks one, stiffing his approach on 17 to less than a foot. He’s not out of this yet.
7:11 p.m. Rose still has time to miss the cut. He three-putts 16 to fall to 2 over.
7:19 p.m. Oh, Tiger. Woods loses another drive to the right, is in jail, and pitches out down the No. 10 fairway. Jim Nantz just said on the broadcast, “This is going to be a shot we’ve never seen here before.”
7:21 p.m. Look for Mike Weir, who closes out a 68 to move to 3 under.
7:27 p.m. He’s incredible. Just incredible. When you think you’ve seen it all, he trumps you. Woods throws a lob wedge high into the air and knocks the shot within 5 feet of the cup, above the hole. Had Stuart Appleby marked his ball, though, Woods may have had a kick-in par, but Woods’ ball hit it coming back down the slope.
7:30 p.m. All-world par. Woods is in the house at 1 under. He’s in this.
Final Thoughts: While Woods has been far from perfect — he misread a lot of putts on Friday — and even though he starts the weekend seven shots back of the lead, and even though he doesn’t have the greatest history in storming back from behind and stealing wins, especially in majors, Woods can’t be counted out. His heroics on the 18th showed us all that. He’ll be a factor before it’s all said and done.
Lefty, meanwhile, has a real good shot at winning his third Masters. He can’t be afraid of the players in front of him, and though Poulter has played great and though there are considerable names in the mix behind him — Stewart Cink, Lee Westwood, Goosen, Jim Furyk, Weir and some guy named Woods are all within seven shots of the lead and within four of Mickelson — he’s in the driver’s seat. If he plays as smartly as he’s played the first two rounds, he should be right there.
The weather, though, will make a huge difference. Storms are likely either overnight or during the day on Saturday, and Sunday promises strong winds. It will be vastly different golf course on the weekend than it has been thus far, and really different than the one the morning round guys had on Friday.
Sunday is set up to be quite a day.