Masters Tracker: Day 2 at Augusta National

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 8, 2016, 12:00 pm

The 80th Masters Tournament is this week in Augusta, Ga. is tracking the first major of the season through on-site reporting and social media. For additional Masters coverage, click here for full-field scores. All-times for the Masters tracker are Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).

7:30PM: Thanks for following along. We'll do it all again tomorrow, where Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy will be paired together in the final group.

7:19PM: Add Daniel Berger's name to the list of under-par rounds on Friday. He made birdie at 18 to shoot 71, which matched the low round of the day alongside Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Troy Merritt.

7:12PM: The final look at the top of the leaderboard through 36 holes at the 80th Masters.

7:07PM: How difficult was Friday at the Masters? The low round of the day was 71, carded by only three players - Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Troy Merritt. The last time not a single player in the field posted a round in the 60s was the third round in 2007 (the year Zach Johnson went on to win).

7:04PM: Phil fans everywhere shed a tear. His birdie attempt at the 18th slides by. At 7 over, Phil Mickelson will miss the cut at the 80th Masters. But hey, there's always the 2016 U.S. Open.

6:56PM: So.Much.History.

6:51PM: Don't mind if we do:

6:48PM: Of course Phil makes a birdie at 17 to move to 7 over and keep his hopes alive of making the cut. Needs to birdie 18 to move to 6 over (within 10 shots of leader Jordan Spieth) to make the cut.

6:45PM: Hideki Matsuyama with a bogey at 18 drops him to 1 under through two rounds.

6:38PM: "You guys are just mean. This is just mean. I have to relive every one of these?" - Jordan Spieth, to Tom Rinaldi, when asked to look back at the highlights (lowlights?) of his second round and the missed putts coming down the stretch.

6:34PM: "The back nine felt a bit rushed." - Jordan Spieth, admitting to Tom Rinaldi that being put on the clock at Amen Corner affected him.

6:30PM: Double trouble for Phil Mickelson. Back-to-back double bogeys (Nos. 15 and 16) has Phil at 8 over and outside the cut line.

6:27PM: Rivalry renewed. I mean, anew.

6:26PM: What he said:

6:23PM: Tough finish for Dechambeau who made a triple-bogey 7 at the 18th to fall back to even par through two rounds.

6:20PM: Jordan Spieth gets up-and-down out of the bunker to save par and post a 2-over 74. He's 4 under for the tournament and leads Rory McIlroy by a stroke. The two will be paired together in the final group on Saturday.

6:18PM: Meanwhile in the world of Phil Mickelson...

6:14PM: DeChambeau has 276 to the hole, 265 front and hits a 5-wood. Settles just short of the right greenside bunker.

6:12PM: While DeChambeau was taking relief, Jordan Spieth went ahead and hit his approach into 18. Short, right in the bunker.

6:10PM: DeChambeau in a spot of bother off the 18th tee:

6:08PM: Golf fans can dream:

6:02PM: Come on, Jordan!

5:56PM: Back-to-back bogeys for Spieth and he moves to 4 under, only one out front of Rory McIlroy and Bryson Dechambeau. Spieth's bogey also affects the guys hovering near the cutline.

5:50PM: Oh Rickie, you so fine... just not so-fine this week.

5:46PM: All day long we've been hearing how difficult conditions are.

5:42PM: Jordan Spieth makes bogey at 16 to drop to 5 under (three-putt). His 22-year-old playing partner (DeChambeau) also makes bogey to drop back to 3 under. Spieth's lead is still two.

5:40PM: In other words... older and wiser.

5:35PM: More love for the two-time Masters champ:

5:31PM: That would have been too good to be true. Tom Watson rolls a long and winding birdie putt at 18 that stops inches short. Walks up and taps in for par at his final Masters and a two-day total of 8 over. #thankstom

5:28PM: Cheers and tears for Tom Watson as he makes his final competitive jaunt up to the 18th green.

5:26PM: Jordan Spieth's lead is now two after Bryson DeChambeau also makes birdie at the 15th (playing alongside Spieth). Dechambeau moves to 4 under while Spieth is back to 6 under - where he began the day.

5:25PM: Jordan Spieth's lead is now three after a two-putt birdie at 15.

5:23PM: Your 2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson makes birdie at 18 to move to 5 over, inside the cut line.

5:22PM: From 245 yards, apparently this is what Spieth hit.

5:16PM: From 245 yards, Spieth knocks it onto the par-5 15th green in two. Will have an eagle putt to extend his lead to four.

5:08PM: Fortunately for us, that's 80 majors away.

5:00PM: Grand Slam of a stat:

4:55PM: The back-nine ovations are growing louder for Tom Watson, who just tapped in for par at 16. Just two holes remain in one of the great Masters careers.

4:50PM: Ernie Els started with a six-putt, quintuple-bogey 9 and he's only four off the 5-over cut. He'll be headed home from Augusta with plenty more demons than when he arrived. More:

4:35PM: What is Phil Mickelson doing? He made double bogey at seven, he three-putted from 3 feet on eight, and he putted the ball off the green on nine. Played those three holes 4 over.

4:30PM: DeChambeau tied with McIlroy for second place after a kick-in birdie at No. 12. That's two in a row.

Spieth, ahead by two, managed to save par from the front bunker and celebrated with a fist pump.

This group was put on the clock on the 11th hole.

4:20PM: Bryson DeChambeau birdies 11 after hitting his approach long and left of a back-left pin position guarded by a pond. Stellar birdie has him back to 2 under and tied for third. For any of you wondering about his status:

DeChambeau will make his professional debut next week at Harbour Town.

4:15PM: Rory McIlroy is in the clubhouse at 3 under after saving par from the trees at the 18th for a round of 71. He's only two behind Spieth, who's fighting for his pars.

McIlroy now gets to sit inside and watch the rest of the field twist in the wind.

4:10PM: More from Ernie:

4:05PM: Spieth bogeys 10 and the lead is now only two.

That said, Rory's in the trees on 18.

4:02PM: Only six of the 89 players in the field are under par today at Augusta National, and only 10 players are under par for the tournament. Spieth, Casey and DeChambeau, all playing together, are a combined 9 under. Real recognizing real recognizing real.

3:55PM: Speaking of the heebie jeebies ...

3:47PM: For the record (Hi, Rex), that was the first time Spieth failed to break par on a nine at Augusta National in his last 11 attempts.

From the beginning of last year's tournament through the completion of yesterday's round, Spieth had gone: 32-32-33-33-35-35-33-33.

That was 36. What a bummer.

3:45PM: Spieth turns in even-par 36 after leaving his approach short, failing to stay on the putting surface with his pitch, and then making bogey at No. 9. That's three birdies, a bogey and a double for Spieth on the front nine. Rory McIlroy now only three back. More succinctly:

3:42PM: Rory McIlroy is in sole possession of second place after back-to-back birdies at 15 and 16.

3:35PM: British Amateur champion Romain Langasque will play the weekend after rounds of 74-73. Four of the other five amateurs in the field -- Derek Bard (+6 thru 13), Sammy Schmitz (+12, F), Cheng Jin (+12 thru 10) and Paul Chaplet (+21, F) -- are currently projected to miss the cut.

3:25PM: The lead is back to five. Spieth rolls in a birdie putt at the par-5 eighth. Every other player in the field should go and hug the nearest Georgia Loblolly that the kid made double on four.

3:20PM: Jason Day wrapped up a second-round 73 with a bogey on 18. At one point 2 under for the round and the week, Day bogeyed 11, 13, and 18. He's plus-1 for the championship and currently seven back of Spieth.

3:15PM: Ouch.

3:10PM: Kevin Streelman going with a green hat, white shirt, and white pants. If he gets long sleeves, they'll let him caddie.

2:58PM: Jordan did what now?

2:52PM: Not that anyone is paying attention, but ...

2:50PM: Some notable Round 2 disasters: Billy Horschel (77, +3), Ian Poulter (78, +3), Darren Clarke (84, +16)

2:48PM: Spieth saves par at the sixth by making a 17-footer. He remains at 6 under.

2:45PM: We've seen this movie before. Justin Rose birdied the second hole to reach 3 under. He's currently in solo second place. Rose played in the final twosome, alongside Spieth, at last year's Masters.

2:34PM: Danny Lee is in the house at 2 under. Lee finished bogey-bogey for a 2-over 74.

2:32PM: Hold everything ... Spieth four-putts (four-putts?!?) the fifth hole for a double bogey. He's back to 6 under and his lead is down to three.

2:28PM: McIlroy bogeys the 11th. He drops to even par, eight back of Spieth.

2:21PM: Spieth is 2 under in the second round. No one else inside the top 10 is under par for the day.

2:11PM: Let's make that a five-shot lead. Lee bogeys No. 17 to drop into a pack of players at 3 under.

2:10PM: Spieth two-putts from nearly 100 feet at the par-4 fourth to remain at 8 under, four clear of Danny Lee.

2:08PM: Former world No. 1 and near-Masters champion David Duval said this about Spieth:

2:03PM: So, there's this ...

1:53PM: The Spieth train continues to roll. Jordan hits his approach shot to kick-in range at No. 3 and is now at 8 under par, four clear of Danny Lee.

1:43PM: Jason Day bogeys the par-5 13th. After getting a break on his tee shot, which caromed off a tree and into the fairway, Day hit his second shot in the water, took a penalty, hit his four from the drop area, dumped that in Rae's Creek, played his fifth shot from the hazard and made his putt for 6. He's now at even par, seven putt.

1:40PM: It's an unceremonious ending for 1991 champion Ian Woosnam. Per the tweet below, Woosnam is officially calling it quits as a competitor at Augusta National. He shot 82-81 this year.

1:38PM: Ian Poulter shanked his second shot at the par-4 14th and made double. He's back to 2 over.

1:34PM: It won't be a birdie-birdie start for Spieth. He misses a downhill curler from 7 feet. He's still up by four.

1:32PM: Here's a look at how Spieth birdied the first.

1:23PM: We said to be quiet! Icarus, er, Sergio, doubles the ninth hole and falls five back, at 2 under. Spieth's nearest competitor is now four behind.

1:19PM: Trying to keep pace, Bryson DeChambeau chipped in for birdie at the first. He's playing alongside Spieth and remains six back, at 1 under.

1:15PM: Trying to keep pace, Bryson DeChambeau chipped in for birdie at the first. He's playing alongside Spieth and remains six back, at 1 under.

1:10PM: It's a birdie! Spieth makes a 15-footer at the first.

1:05PM: Shhhhh .... Don't speak too loudly, but Sergio Garcia is at 4 under and only two back.

1:01PM: Here's a look at how Rory McIlroy made double bogey at the par-3 fourth.

12:57PM: Davis Love III was at 2 under, but a bogey at No. 11 and a double bogey at No. 12 dropped him to 1 over.

12:55PM: And he's off! Overnight leader Jordan Spieth has started his second round, primed to build on his opening 66.

12:51PM: Meanwhile, the other Watson, Bubba, is 4 over for the day through 11 holes and 7 over for the tournament. He is well outside the cut line.

12:48PM: Tom Watson bogeyed his first hole. Playing in (perhaps) his final Masters, the two-time champion is now at 3 over but still inside the cut line.

12:42PM: Jason Day turns in 2-under 34. He's 2 under for the event, four back of Spieth.

12:35PM: Oh, dear ... It's another dropped shot for McIlroy. He follows a double bogey at No. 4 with a bogey at No. 5. He's back to 1 under, five back.

12:24PM: Hey Billy Ho ... how you feeling?

12:17AM: On in two, three putts, and it drops in the hole for Rory McIlroy at the par-3 fourth. That's a double bogey after a par-birdie-birdie start.

12:13PM: Here comes Day. The world No. 1 rolls in his third birdie of the round at No. 8. Now 2 under, four back.

12:09PM: Just FYI: The Masters is currently projecting the cut to be 2 over. Bubba, Keegan, Schwartzel, Simpson, Fowler currently on outside looking in.

11:56AM: Don't look now, but a certain 4-time major champion is now tied for second place after back-to-back birdies. His name is Rory McIlroy, maybe you've heard of him?

11:49AM: How about a highlight? Here's Brandt Snedeker's birdie at No. 7. He's also inside the top 10.

11:45AM: McIlroy reaches the par-5 second hole in two. Routine 2-putt from 67 feet for birdie. He's now on the first page of the leaderboard, three back.

11:41AM: Garcia with a strong bounce-back after an opening bogey. He's birdied the second and third holes to get withing two of Spieth.

11:38AM: The Big Easy has rolled in a couple of short putts in the last few holes since misses on Nos. 1 and 2. Putts that are now being described as "great" on the live Masters coverage.

11:31AM: Just a reminder that Tom Watson, in his very last Masters, is currently the low Watson at Augusta. By a lot.

11:27AM: Day rolls in his second birdie of the round. Gets back into red numbers and sits five off the lead after a circle at the par-4 fifth.

11:25AM: Rory McIlroy gets up and down on No. 1 for par to stay at 2 under. Decent start for a guy who finished with bogeys on two of his last three holes yesterday..

11:22AM: We haven't taken a look at the leaderboard in a while, so here you go. Spieth, who hasn't teed off, still leads.

11:14AM: Make that back-to-back-to-back bogeys for Bubba. Now 6 over.

11:03AM: Bubba now fighting just to make the cut at a tournament he's won twice. Second straight bogey and third on the day moves him back to 5 over.

10:58AM: Davis Love III said he's not here for a farewell tour this week. He's 3 under through six today.

10:50AM: Playing partners Poulter and Watson continue to go the wrong direction with matching bogeys at No. 4

10:46AM: After a 3-under 69 in Rd. 1, Sergio Garcia is back on the course. Will he follow it up with another solid round? The numbers aren't in his favor:

10:43AM: Everyone look away! The Els horror show continues on No. 2, misses a 5-footer for birdie, but successfully taps in for par.

10:41AM: Day makes the two-putt birdie on No. 2, his first birdie in seven holes. He's back to even.

10:35AM: Lee takes a step back with a double bogey on No. 3. Four-putts from 52 feet.

10:30AM: Anyone ever seen this before? Day laying in the middle of the second fairway stretching. Stands up, hits his shot on the green. Eagle putt coming up. If there's one thing that should scare the rest of the field, it's Jason Day stretching.

10:22AM: Day can't stop following Bubba's lead. Also makes bogey on No. 1. Can't get up-and-down from behind the green. Now 1 over for the tournament.

10:16AM: Els much better on No. 1 this time around. Only misses one "gimme," taps in for double bogey. Combined nine putts so far this week on Tea Olive.

10:13AM: Bubba Watson has no time for your stinkin' fairways:.

10:10AM: Danny Lee birdies the second hole to climb within a stroke of Spieth. Not a bad second trip to Augusta. Lee previously played in 2009 as an amateur..

10:02AM: But who gets the biggest applause in the Day group? Why that would be Ernie Els. He also pipes one out there in the middle of the fairway and is just an approach shot away from the scene of yesterday's six putts heard 'round the world.

10:00AM: Jason Day pokes one out there in the middle of the first fairway. The world No. 1 had a similar round to Bubba yesterday, will try to avoid the same fate early today.

9:49AM: Tap-in par for Ian Poulter on No. 1 to stay three back of Spieth. Meanwhile, remember that good start for Bubba we told you about? Well, it's over. He missed the first green and made bogey. Now 4 over for the tournament.

9:42AM: Our amateur weatherman on the scene, again, confirming the conditions won't be as bad as originally predicted:

9:37AM: And two-time Masters champ Bubba Watson is off and running. Hitting his first drive down the left side of the fairway. Good, start, but then again, he had one yesterday, too.

9:21AM: An early weather report:

9:18AM: Horschel birdies the par-5 second to get back to 2 under par, four strokes behind Spieth.

9:12AM: Rory McIlroy tees off at 11:05 a.m. Here's what the "Morning Drive" crew thinks will be the key to his second round ...

9:05AM: Billy Horschel (-1) starts with a bogey on 1. But the good news is his pants are in full bloom.

8:51AM: Contenders teeing off soon:

9:26 a.m.: Danny Lee
9:37 a.m.: Ian Poulter
9:59 a.m.: Jason Day

8:39AM: Some stats to keep in mind today ...

8:21AM: While we wait for scores to start rolling in, check out our Scramble Podcast for a lively discussion about Round 1.

8:15AM: Round 2 is about to get started and here are the hole locations for the second round.

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McIlroy gets back on track

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

He is well ahead of schedule.

Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

“Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

“I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

Everything in his life is lined up.

Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

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Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

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McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.