Hoffman has tall task to track down Spieth
April 10, 2015
By Mike McAllister, Helen Ross and Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
- Charley Hoffman has tallied 10 birdies, an eagle and three bogeys through two rounds at the Masters. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
The good news for Charley Hoffman? In his 15th start in a major, he’s putting together his best performance. He’s 9 under through two rounds at the Masters and he’ll play in the final group on Saturday.
Heady stuff for a player whose best previous finish in a major was a tie for 27th four years ago at Augusta National.
Oh, and the bad news?
Were it not for the record-setting performance by Spieth, it would be Hoffman entering this weekend as the biggest story, the man to beat. Instead, he’ll tee off Saturday five strokes behind and wondering if the 21-year-old will slow down enough to give his pursuers a chance.
“You’re watching one of the best players in the world play good golf right now,” Hoffman said. “You obviously can feed off him. Hopefully I can try to catch him.”
Hoffman followed his opening 67 with a 4-under 68 that could have been a stroke better had he not finished with a bogey, failing to get up and down. That stumble didn’t keep him out of the final pairing; the next closest players are two strokes behind Hoffman.
Although Hoffman can’t control what Spieth does, he is aware that he’ll need to solve his own third-round issues. Hoffman ranks 157th in third-round scoring average this season. In his last two starts in Texas, he shot a 79 at the Valero Texas Open and a 74 at the Shell Houston Open.
“I can’t say why I played bad on Saturday the last couple weeks,” Hoffman said. “I felt comfortable (but) got off to a couple bad starts, bad breaks those Saturdays.
“But I don’t see that coming tomorrow at all. Hopefully it doesn’t.”
SPIETH MAKES HISTORY: Jordan Spieth followed a 64 with a second-round 66 to set the 36-hole Masters scoring record en route to a five-shot lead.
While Tiger Woods' record victory at the 1997 Masters comes to mind, there have also been plenty of collapses -- or comebacks, depending on how you look at it -- in history. Read more on why no lead is safe at Augusta National by clicking the link below.
MASTERS HISTORY FOR JOHNSON: Dustin Johnson’s opening hole Friday was awful: Double bogey. And his last hole wasn’t much to look at either: Bogey.
But in between? Yeah, pretty nice.
In shooting a 5-under 67, Johnson beat up Augusta National’s par 5s – three eagles and one birdie. He becomes the first player to record three eagles in any round at the Masters.
“Pretty special, and it was a lot of fun too,” said Johnson, who will start Saturday in a tie for third at 7 under, seven shots behind Spieth.
Johnson’s par-5 prowess is no surprise thanks to his length, as he ranks inside the top 10 in par-5 scoring average. But he credited his ability to judge the wind Friday as being a key factor on his eagle.
“It wasn’t like I was hitting it any farther,” Johnson said. “It was normal shots that I’ve had in the past. Just it’s always tough around here to hit the shots the correct distance with the wind.”
Making eagle at the Masters means you get a pair of crystal glasses. Johnson now has seven pairs for his career.
“I put them in my office,” he said.
MICKELSON OPTIMISTIC: Phil Mickelson shot 68 Friday to move into sixth place through two rounds of the Masters.
Normally, it's right where he'd want to be entering the weekend of a major. But the deficit normally wouldn't be eight strokes, which is what Mickelson trails Spieth by at Augusta National.
"A lot can happen on this golf course, and he was playing some of the best golf coming into this tournament, he's playing the best golf in the tournament," Mickelson said of Spieth. "And I expect him to continue that.
"But you never know what's going to happen in this golf tournament, and if something were to happen I want to be there to take over."
One thing that Mickelson feels would help: Firmer greens.
"Certainly firm conditions make angles important, past knowledge important," he said. "But there's no fire in the golf course right now. We had the rain come in. There was a little bit of fire in the greens on Monday, and when that happens angles into the green off the tee, places to miss, shots around green become much more sensitive. But we haven't had that yet. And so that's why we have such low scoring."
MCILROY SALVAGES ROUND: Rory McIlroy's bid to complete the career Grand Slam will likely have to wait until next year.
Before he ever hit a shot Friday, he was a dozen strokes behind leader Jordan Spieth. McIlroy trailed by the same margin after a 1-under 71 that could have been a lot worse after playing his first nine holes in 40.
McIlroy salvaged the round with three birdies and an eagle on the back but like everyone else was left looking up at Spieth.
"It's really, really impressive," McIlroy said of Spieth. "I think a few guys can still catch him. It will take, obviously, something extraordinary from myself to get up there, but you never know. I know better than most people what can happen with the lead around here.
"But Jordan's had the experience. He had a couple shot lead and couldn't quite hold on to it. But he'll have learned from that and he'll definitely handle it better this time around."
As for how McIlroy handled trying to win his third straight major championship, that was another story.
The 25-year-old top-ranked player in the world bogeyed his opening hole and played his final six on the front nine in 4 over, which included a messy double bogey on the par-4 ninth, where it took him four strokes to get up-and-down from the front of the green.
"The margin for error is so small," said McIlroy, who has just one top 10 in six previous trips to Augusta National. "Missing it in the wrong places sometimes and I missed a couple of really short putts back there, and that affected my confidence a little bit.
"But the good golf is in there. It's just a matter of trying to get rid of the bad stuff, which was all on the front nine today."
McIlroy made up ground on the back nine, which included a chip-in for birdie on 17, but by then the deficit was too big.
"I would need to shoot a 14‑under par weekend and Jordan would have to play a couple average rounds," he said. "and neither of those two things look like they're going to happen, so it's going to be tough."
TRUST ISSUES: Jason Day had trust issues with his swing Friday.
Starting the second round tied for second, Day stumbled to a 2-over 74 while pressing to stay among the leaders and is now 11 shots behind Spieth.
“I’ve just got to find something on my swing,” Day said. “Find that commitment, find that trust that I can go out there and just swing at it and not worry about where it’s going to go or where it will go.
“Obviously the thought process is completely wrong right now and I’m more worried about where it’s going, rather than just looking at my target and looking and go.”
Soon after, Day was on the range, hoping to iron out these issues.
NOTABLES MISSING THE CUT: Jim Furyk, who clocked in at No. 8 when he came to Augusta this week, was the highest-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking to miss the 36-hole cut at the Masters.
Furyk shot a 73 on Friday to finish at 3 over, which left him one stroke shy of playing the weekend. Ditto for Bernhard Langer, the reigning Champions Tour Player of the Year.
Furyk was one of three former FedExCup champs missing the cut along with Brandt Snedeker and Billy Horschel, who finished at 3 and 4 over, respectively.
Former Masters champions missing the cut in addition to Langer were Ian Woosnam, Sandy Lyle, Jose Maria Olazabal, Larry Mize, Tom Watson, Trevor Immelman, Fred Couples, Mike Weir and Ben Crenshaw, who was making his final competitive appearance.
Martin Kaymer, who won last year's U.S. Open, and three-time major champ Padraig Harrington also made early exits.
J.B. Holmes, who won the Shell Houston Open in a playoff on Sunday, also missed the cut -- but ended his 36-hole stay by chipping in for birdie at the 18th hole on Friday.
THEY SAID IT
“It wasn’t that great a look anymore, to be honest with you.” – Charley Hoffman on why he decided to cut his hair.
“Seeing the old man’s name up on the board, he’s probably, ‘Wait a minute, I can’t let that guy beat me.’ “ – 58-year-old Mark O’Meara, who shot a 68 to good buddy Tiger Woods’ 69 in the second round
“It’s like a thermos. Some days it’s hot; some days it’s cold.” – Tom Watson, who followed his opening 71 with a second-round 81
“If not for that, I would be heading home.” – Sergio Garcia on four birdies in his last five holes to make the cut at 2 under
SHOT OF THE DAY
Thongchai Jaidee holes out from 98 yards for an eagle at No. 3 at Augusta National.
ODDS & ENDS
Not since the 1940 Masters have the first two players atop the 36-hole leaderboard had as little experience as Jordan Spieth and Charley Hoffman have at Augusta National. That year, Jimmy Demaret (second Masters start) and Lloyd Mangrum (first start) were tied after 36 holes. ...
Want to know what Dustin Johnson used to approach the par 5s on Friday? A 5-iron at the second, a 3-iron at the eighth, an 8-iron at the 13th and a 5-iron at the 15th. He birdied the 13th and eagled the other three. … Incidentally, Johnson has recorded 14 eagles at major championships since 2009. That’s only one behind Phil Mickelson, who leads in that category during that span. ...
Mark O'Meara made the cut at Augusta this week for the first time since 2005. He's T12 after shooting 68 Friday.
BEST OF SOCIAL MEDIA
So freakin cool to make my first Masters cut playing in front of, one of the greatest, Ben Crenshaw, in his last Masters! #goosebumps— Morgan Hoffmann (@Morgan_Hoffmann) April 10, 2015
It was gonna happen at some point sooner or later! Paired with @TigerWoods tomorrow but don't you worry guys, I'm sure we'll both be fine 😉— Sergio Garcia (@TheSergioGarcia) April 11, 2015
Playing the weekend at my first @TheMasters....wow. So happy my friends and family are here to share this with me.— Erik Compton (@ErikCompton3) April 10, 2015
Click on the image below to check out the best photos from Friday at Augusta National.