Whats wrong with Tiger?
Not as much as you might think. Hes just five back after 36 holes despite not shooting better than par in either of his first two rounds. The weather on Saturday is supposed to be cold and windy and, as Frank Nobilo told me on Golf Channels Live From Friday afternoon, conditions are going to favor the player who flights his golf ball the best.
Nobody flights (controls his trajectories) better than Tiger. What Woods needs to fix for the weekend (and you can be sure he and his swing coach Hank Haney spent a lot of time late Friday after his round on this) is working the ball from right to left. Tiger said the problem first surfaced during his Thursday 73. And clearly he was struggling with it again Friday.
But Woods dinner will taste better after three back nine birdies Friday. And he may have saved his chances for eventual victory by escaping with a bogey and a par, respectively, after hitting balls in the water on the 12th and 13th holes.
Whats wrong with Phil?
Missed a bunch of short putts early Thursday. May have gotten to Augusta too early (he arrived a full week before the first round. And the more you watch him this week the more it looks like he should have stuck to his normal major preparation routine, which is to play the week before the event. Remember, he won the BellSouth Classic near Atlanta last year by 13 shots the week before the Masters and rode into Augusta on a huge wave of confidence. Still, Phil's back by only seven after 36.
How far back is too far back?
Depends on who you are. But remember: Jackie Burke was eight back of Ken Venturi going into the final round of the 1956 Masters. Burke caught and passed Venturi, an amateur at the time, and won the golf tournament.
What about the Euros?
Irishman Padraig Harrington and Englishman Paul Casey shared the low rounds of the day with 68s. And both were great comeback stories. Harrington recovered from an opening 77 and Casey came all the way back from a Thursday 79.
Casey played both days in the same grouping with Woods and both are three over after 36. I also liked Henrik Stenson a lot until he bogeyed the 10th from the middle of the fairway and three-putted from short range to double the 11th. After birdieing the ninth hole, Stenson had been temporarily tied for the lead at two under. The rest of his back nine was a mess and added up to 42.
Who else cannot be ignored at this point?
Dont you dare take your eyes off of U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy. Ogilvy, remember, triple bogeyed his second hole of the tournament. And he added a double bogey on the 12th Thursday. Still, he managed to cobble together a good 75. Then he went out in 33 on Friday and finished with 70, just three back of leaders Tim Clark and Brett Wetterich who are tied at minus-2.
Whats up with Clark and the 18th hole?
Id like to dig it up and take it home with me, Clark said after putting in for par from off the putting surface on the last hole Friday. It was the third straight time Clark has played the 18th at Augusta National with a statistical zero putt.
Clark famously holed a bunker shot on the 72nd hole last year en route to a runner-up finish to Mickelson.
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