By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Only three times has a player successfully defended at the Masters.
Almost as rare is the defending champion missing the cut. Bubba Watson is danger of doing that, however, after a 75 in the opening round. (He tees off at 1:30 p.m. ET).
Only eight defending champions have gone on to miss the cut the year after they won. The last to do it was Mike Weir in 2004 (see chart for others).
What do you think Watson will do? Discuss below.
|Player||Missed Cut Following Year||Scores||Strokes Missed By|
|Seve Ballesteros||1981, 1984||78-76 and 73-74||Six and Two|
|Jose Maria Olazabal||2000||72-77||Three|
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- As low as scores were in the opening round, the opposite has been true in Round 2. The Masters has been a bit formulaic that way in recent years with a benign setup on Thursday, a difficult one on Friday, somewhere in between on Saturday and back to a little more birdie-friendly on Sunday.
Only a smattering of players are under par so far and the lead, at least for now, remains at 6 under.
Will anyone be able to make a move this afternoon? Given the aforementioned formula and some difficult pin placements, it seems unlikely.
Here's a look at who to watch for this afternoon:
Marc Leishman, Jose Maria Olazabal, T.J. Vogel, 12:35 p.m.: No Aussie has ever won the Masters -- a fact Leishman is acutely aware of. If that's going to change, he'll need to continue roll the ball like he did on Thursday when he had just 25 putts. Picking the brain of 1999 winner Olazabal wouldn't be a bad idea, either.
Bubba Watson, Ian Poulter, Steven Fox, 1:30 p.m.: Only three players have successfully defended here and it looks like it will stay that way after Watson opened with a 75. He's going to have to work just to make the cut. Ditto Poulter, who despite feeling this is his best place to win a major, labored to a 76. The last defending champ to miss the cut, by the way, was Mike Weir in 2004.
Tiger Woods, Luke Donald, Scott Piercy, 1:41 p.m.: The second round historically has been pretty good to Woods, who has half dozen rounds in the 60s here on Fridays and nine rounds under par. He's only broken 70 once in the last seven years, however. Of course with scoring as difficult as it has been so far, anything under par should leave Woods in good position going into the weekend.
Rickie Fowler, Padraig Harrington, Jason Day, 1:52 p.m.: There was a lot to like about Fowler's opening 68 -- mostly that he had two double bogeys on the card and still shot 4 under. His aggressiveness could work against him, however, given the pin positions. Expect Day, who is 2 under, to stay in contention, too. His game fits this course well and two years ago he tied for second here.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The 77th Masters began a couple of hours ago, outlined against a gray April sky that is hanging heavy over Augusta National. Even heavier is the expectation for Tiger Woods to capture a fifth career Green Jacket.
Woods will tee off at 10:34 a.m. ET alongside Luke Donald and Scott Piercy. Here is a closer look at that group, and a couple of other notable ones this morning.
Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker, Ryo Ishikawa, 9:17 a.m.: As dominant as Sean Foley's prized pupil Woods has been this season, Rose hasn't been too shabby himself. In his three stroke-play starts on the PGA TOUR this year, he hasn't finished outside the top 8, which included a runner-up to Woods at Bay Hill. While he hasn't had a ton of success here -- just two career top 10s -- the one thing that's held Rose back, putting, has at times been very good this season. While Rose has momentum, Snedeker is just the opposite, having arrived here off two missed cuts following five weeks off due to a rib injury in February. Still, Snedeker's short game plays well here and he's contended before, in 2008 when he entered the final round two strokes off the lead before shooting a 77.
Bubba Watson, Ian Poulter, Steven Fox, 10:34 a.m.: Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods are the only ones to successfully defend here. That doesn't dissuade Watson, though. "As a competitor, as a believer in my game, yeah, I can see pulling it off," Watson said. "It wouldn't shock me. I would still cry, but it wouldn't shock me. The way I look at it, I'm going out there and I want to make the cut because first off, I don't want to have to sit around and give somebody the green jacket. I want to be here on Sunday, playing." Poulter, meanwhile, said earlier this week the Masters is his best chance at a major. Two of the last three years he's finished in the top 10, including in 2010 when he had a share of the lead at the halfway point.
Tiger Woods, Luke Donald, Scott Piercy, 10:45 a.m.: Woods hasn't won here since 2005, but he's been in contention several times since. Only once during that time has he finished outside the top 6 -- last year, when he had a career-low tie for 40th. He's won three times this year and comes into the week leading the TOUR in strokes gained-putting. Donald has had his chances here with three career top 10s. One of those came in 2011. Donald shot in the 60s in his last three rounds that year and was in contention on Sunday until Charl Schwartzel birdied the last four holes to win.
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Too bad he didn't save it for one of the four days of competition at the Masters.
If Bubba Watson had holed that 9-iron at the 16th hole on Thursday instead of during Wednesday's practice round, he would have carted home a large crystal bowl. Interestingly, Watson has never made a hole-in-one at a PGA TOUR event.
Of course, Watson did earn the much more coveted Green Jacket last year when he beat Louis Oosthuizen on the second hole of sudden death. He also got to keep a sterling silver replica of the Masters Trophy and the gold medal that goes to the winner.
Watson has five pairs of crystal goblets, too -- but none of his eagles came last year. And he did earn a crystal vase for shooting the low round of the day, a 67 in the third round in 2011
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- For months, Bubba Watson kept secret his menu for the annual Champions Dinner at Augusta National.
Tuesday night, the defending champion lifted the curtain, tweeting out a photo of the menu (above), which was signed by all 30 former champions in attendance.
What did Watson serve? Traditional Caesar salad, grilled chicken breast, green beans, mashed potatoes, corn, macaroni and cheese and cornbread.
For dessert, there was confetti cake with vanilla ice cream.
Bubba Watson is hoping to become just the fourth player to successfully defend his Masters title (Cannon/Getty Images)
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- There are two Founders Circle plaques located at the base of the flagpole in front of the Augusta National clubhouse. There are plaques on each of the three named bridges. There's the Arnold Palmer plaque on the drinking fountain behind the 16th tee and the Jack Nicklaus plaque on the drinking fountain between the 16th and 17th tees.
There is not a plaque recognizing Bubba Watson's miraculous second shot on the 10th hole last year to win the Masters. At least not yet.
"Who wouldn't want to see a plaque that says Bubba in the middle of the pine straw?," Watson said with a smile Tuesday. "I would never ask for a plaque."
"If I do it again this year," he said, "then yes, there should be a plaque."
An emotional Watson met the media 48 hours before the start of his title defense. Watson cried when talking about the one special thing he did with his Masters jacket -- wrapping up his then-new son Caleb in it after he returned home from his victory a year ago. He joked about leaving his Golf Boys buddies and becoming a solo act. He continued to remain mum on the specifics of his menu for Tuesday's Champions Dinner.
But mostly he answered questions about the famous shot from last year, the one that he hooked from out of the trees with a 52-degree wedge to set up his winning par to beat Louis Oosthuizen.
> He went back to the spot for the first time two weeks ago. Playing with his manager, a childhood friend and his host member, Watson and crew took photos from the spot. A day later, during another round at Augusta National, they reached the 10th hole and "didn't even look in that direction," Watson said.
> While playing Augusta National with his wife Angie on Sunday, they went to the spot so that Angie -- who was not at the tournament last year -- could see it. As they finished their round on 18, Watson spied some players who were trying to find the spot. Watson, trying to help out, yelled, "That's not the spot, it's a little over." One of the players in that group was 1970 Masters champ Billy Casper.
> On Monday, Watson and Rickie Fowler played a practice round. "Rickie didn't have any interest about going over there," Watson said.
> Watson said he donated the 52-degree wedge to Augusta National.
> Asked if sometimes he'd rather be known for his four rounds of golf that won the Masters instead of the single shot, Watson shrugged. "Anything that they remember me by is good with me -- if it was four great days of golf; if it was a miracle shot," he said.
> Finally, Watson recalled his process on how he pulled off the shot. Here's how he explained it: "I had the club a little hooded, which is going to make it draw, spin that way. For me being left-handed, it's going to be a draw. So my stance was closed a little bit. Took one less club, because I was going to be swinging at it so hard. I wanted to go one less club so I could hit it as hard as could, which makes faster clubhead speed, which is going to make the ball curve more. It's going to compress the ball as much as it possibly can. The ball was probably compressed, on a wedge probably compressed it 25 percent in, so at impact it was probably compressed pretty good, even off a wedge, as hard as I swung at it. So that's really how I did it.
"It was all about speed, speed, my hands rolling over, and the way I set up to it with a little closed club face, de-lofted it when I swung it so it went lower, and just all that working together. And how do you make that into scientific terms, I have no idea, but that's what I did."
Bubba Watson ranks sixth in greens in regulation in 2013 at 71.24 percent. (How/Getty Images)
By Bill Cooney, PGATOUR.COM
The first major championship of the season has arrived. Bubba Watson will attempt to become just the fourth back-to-back champion in Masters history this week -- joining some pretty exclusive company. How exclusive? And how does Watson rank in statistics compared to last season? Let's take a look by going inside the numbers ...
3 Number of players who have successfully defended their Masters title – Jack Nicklaus (1965, ‘66), Nick Faldo (‘89, ‘90) and Tiger Woods (2001, ‘02). … Will Bubba Watson join them? Watson has 40-to-1 odds to win, according to Sports Book.
4 Number of double eagles recorded in Masters history. … The last one came last year when Louis Oosthuizen holed out from 253 yards with a 4-iron on the second hole on Sunday. Other double eagles: Jeff Maggert in 1994 (No. 13, Round 4, 222 yards, 3-iron); Bruce Devlin in 1967 (No. 8, Round 1, 248 yards, 4-wood); Gene Sarazen in 1935 (No. 15, Round 4, 235 yards, 4-wood).
23 Number of holes-in-one at the Masters. … It happened twice in 2012 when Adam Scott and Bo Van Pelt recorded aces on the 16th hole. Scott used a 7-iron from 202 yards while Van Pelt used a 6-iron from 202 yards.
53.94 percent Driving accuracy percentage this season for Bubba Watson, which ranks 157th on the PGA TOUR. … Watson said in his Masters news conference on Tuesday that his stats have declined from last season to 2013. But that’s not entirely true (More on this in a bit). But his accuracy off the tee has dropped (he was 135th at 58.84 percent in 2012) and his driving distance is also down (315.5 to 301.5).
63 Single-round tournament scoring record at the Masters, which was shot twice. … Nick Price carded a 63 (33-30) in the third round of 1986 en route to finishing fifth. Greg Norman carded a 63 (33-30) in the first round of 1996. Norman, of course, owned a six-shot lead after 54 holes, but finished second to Faldo.
71.24 percent Greens in regulation percentage this season for Watson, which ranks sixth on TOUR. … That mark is actually better than his 69.95 percent in 2012. Watson has also improved in strokes gained-putting (-.285 in 2012 to .232 in 2013) and scrambling (56.58 percent to 61.36). While Watson has seemingly compiled a fairly quiet season on the golf course, but he does have five T25s in six events, including a pair of top 10s.
90 Age of Doug Ford, the oldest living Masters champion. … Ford won the 1957 Masters, starting Sunday three shots behind Sam Snead. Ford ended up winning by three shots. Ford had 19 PGA TOUR victories and 23 runner-up finishes in his career.
270 Four-round tournament record at the Masters, shot by a 21-year-old Woods in 1997. … Woods, who is the youngest Masters winner, finished off his first Masters victory with rounds of 70-66-65-69. He won by 12 shots, another Masters record for margin of victory. He set a total of 20 Masters records that year, this after opening with a 40 on his first nine.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS ARCHIVE
Week 2: Sony Open/Humana Challenge
Week 10: WGC-Cadillac/Tampa Bay Championship
Week 12: Shell Houston Open
Week 13: Valero Texas Open
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Bubba Watson’s involvement in the creation of “BW1” -- a customized hovercraft that has the look of a golf cart -- shouldn’t come as a surprise.
After all, a year ago he purchased a replica of the General Lee car used in the Dukes of Hazzard television show.
“We were spit-balling ideas of how to grow the game and make it fun,” Watson said. “Who wouldn’t want to play golf and drive a hovercraft?”
Enter one of Watson’s sponsors, Oakley, and Neoteric Hovercraft, Inc., which makes hovercrafts for recreational use as well as for commercial, rescue and military purposes.
Within 24 hours, the YouTube video of Watson riding around in BW1 had more than a million views.
It won’t be the last look at it, either. BW1 will make an appearance in a segment on the Today Show on Friday.
At first, it was thought the video might be an April Fool’s joke. Oakley confirmed it was real, however, and it has gone viral since.
What will ultimately happen with Bubba’s Hover?
After its stop in New York it will be shipped back to Oakley for a promotional shoot.
Then? Perhaps Watson’s garage.
“I’ll have to see if it’s practical to have at the house,” Watson said. “And if they’ll let me bring it on the golf course (at Isleworth).”