Punishing conditions remain at Augusta National
Zero of 86 players were able to break 70 on Friday due to gusting winds and speedy greens
April 08, 2016
By Brian Wacker and Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
- Jordan Spieth felt the brunt of Augusta National on Friday, posting his first over-par round at the course in his career. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Jordan Spieth opened with a birdie. Two holes later, he made another and at one point he led by as many as five strokes Friday at Augusta National.
Then the Masters started playing more like a U.S. Open.
With windy conditions and tough pin placements, there were no rounds in the 60s for the first time since the third round of the 2007 tournament. Only four players broke par.
Spieth wasn’t one of them, recording his first career over-par score in 10 rounds at Augusta National with a 2-over 74. It was good enough for a one-stroke lead over Rory McIlroy through 36 holes of the year’s first major, though.
“It was tough,” Spieth said of Augusta National, which played to a scoring average of 75.022. “It was very tough.
“We kept reminding ourselves that even par is a good score, even par is a good score.”
The lowest round of the day was 71, shot by McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Daniel Berger and Troy Merritt.
There were nine rounds in the 80s, including an 80 by 2007 Masters champ and last year’s Open Championship winner Zach Johnson, and an 84, the highest score of the day, by Darren Clarke.
Spieth’s group was even put on the clock at one point, in part because they had trouble with the difficult conditions.
Still, he is in the lead going into the weekend for a second-straight year, albeit with a completely different feeling. Last year, Spieth opened with a 64 and led by four. This year, he had to get up-and-down on the last to keep his one-shot advantage.
“I was sitting down thinking, you know, this is nowhere near kind of the feeling of last year,” Spieth said. “Last year was a four‑shot lead, but there were a lot of birdies to be had.
“I kind of like this better. I don't like the fact that if I were to go out and play a decent round but shoot even par, because stuff doesn't go in, guys could take the lead. Now if I strike the ball the way I want to strike it and I kind of map my way around the course the way that we do so well here, you don't need to force anything.”
Spieth makes it six, McIlroy in hot pursuit
DAY’S BACK-NINE BLUES: Jason Day is just five shots off the lead going into the weekend. That’s the good news.
The bad? He has played the back nine at Augusta National in a combined 8 over with one birdie, one double bogey and six bogeys, including three on Friday.
“Yeah, it's no good,” Day said. “But I seem to ‑‑ I think I worked the front side out, which I'm 7‑under par now and just got to tidy up the back side and right now it's really difficult conditions.
“With how the greens are, they're drying out really nicely and they're very quick. I mean, there's not too many times where I'm standing on a golf course and you have to aim a putt for wind, which is just tells you how gusty it is in some parts. And then other parts when you're kind of hidden, you don't feel it at all. So, it's just, it's really hard to commit to a lot of the golf shots out there and you got to be very mentally strong to be able to do that.”
One of Day’s bogeys came on the par-5 13th, and it was a good bogey at that considering he hit his second into the water.
“I'm standing there with 3‑iron in my hand, obviously on that pitch on that slope, got 214 yards to the pin, I mean, I've got nothing to the ‑‑ I mean you think 3‑iron's going to get there pretty easily and then you add 20 wind and it's 235 yards to the pin,” he said. “After that, you got to kind of … hit it.”
As frustrating as the penalty was, Day is still in contention.
MOVING ON DOWN THE ROAD: Phil Mickelson was inside the top 10, 1 under for the tournament after a birdie at the third hole Friday afternoon.
The three-time Masters champion came apart over his last 12 holes, though -- eventually signing for a 79 that included water-logged double bogeys at the 15th and 16th holes.
Even after those two devastating doubles, Mickelson fought hard to make the cut. He birdied the 17th hole but couldn't convert from 22 feet on the finale -- finishing at 151, one shot outside the cut line.
On the other hand, Bubba Watson, a two-time Masters champ, shot a pair of 75s and fully expected to be leaving early.
"Very disappointing," Watson had said after signing his scorecard. "Got to wait a year to attack it again."
Instead, when all was added up, Watson made the cut on the number, one of 57 who'll be playing what looks to be a spectacular spring weekend.
Among the notables who missed the cut are former Masters winners Trevor Immelman, Charl Schwartzel, Zach Johnson, Mike Weir, Sandy Lyle, Vijay Singh, Ian Woosnam and Tom Watson, the latter two who were playing in the event for the final time.
Johnson, incidentally, suffered a two-stroke penalty for grounding his club in a water hazard at the 13th hole. Otherwise, he would've made the cut on the number.
Here's a look at some notables who missed the cut this year at Augusta National:
Augusta whipped my butt the last 2 days!— Chris Kirk (@Chris_Kirk_) April 9, 2016
Augusta is hard. That's all— Daniel Berger (@DanielBerger59) April 9, 2016
My love affair with Augusta continues..... Couple of bad driver swings and putting with the handbrake on caused a slow painful bleed today.— Graeme McDowell (@Graeme_McDowell) April 8, 2016
This is why we love @TheMasters and Augusta National. It can reward you in one hand a punish in the other. Live to fight another day. 👊— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) April 8, 2016