AUGUSTA, Ga. — While you’re preparing for Masters Saturday to start the weekend early, Tiger Woods will be trying to set up his Masters Sunday. Woods’ second round was suspended on Friday on his second shot on the 11th hole. He played the 10 holes he completed in even par, which left him 4 under, five back of a four-way lead.
In the last 33 years, only one golfer has come from outside the top 10 after 36 holes to win this golf tournament. Woods is currently three shots out of the top 10, but the good news is that he has scoring holes coming up and plenty of room to operate.
After Thursday’s breezy 68, Friday’s Round 2 felt like a grind. Woods continued to pound fairways and greens, but he made a sloppy bogey on a bad putt at the third hole and couldn’t get up and down from the sand on No. 7. This with a suddenly growing group of onlookers at a patron-free Masters as nearly 100 people were following Woods, including Peyton Manning.
Woods played the holes he has remaining in 3 under during Round 1. If he does that again on Saturday to cap his second round, game on. Tiger will play 26 holes on Saturday as he moves from Round 2 into Round 3, and we will likely know how his tournament is going to go early in the day.
On the 11th hole on Friday, as the sun touched the very tops of the trees at Augusta National with the last vestiges of sunlight, an official bounded out into the fairway to let Woods’ group know they only had a few minutes left until the horn blew. You could visibly see Tiger’s tournament face fade as he exhaled and chose not to hit his second shot. He’d had enough of a tussle with this course for one day. Saturday, he knew, is when he’d come back and hit maybe the hardest second shot on the golf course. Then the tournament would be decided.
Woods got into a golf cart with his caddie, Joe LaCava, and drove it back up the path toward the 11th tee and around to the front of the property. It was a bizarre scene. Woods driving a golf cart the wrong way on the most famous golf course on the planet.
On Saturday morning, he’ll likely once again drive a cart back to the spot on No. 11 where he left his tee in the ground to mark his ball and try to wrestle this place to the ground just as he did a year ago.
Whether Woods accomplishes the feat he did in 2019 remains to be seen, but it’s sure going to be a hell of a thing to watch him try all day on Saturday.
Here are a few more thoughts on Day 2 of the 2020 Masters on Friday.
1. This leaderboard is loaded: One problem for Woods that I didn’t mention … he’s only five back, but he’s behind Dustin Johnson (-9), Justin Thomas (-9), Jon Rahm (-8), Hideki Matsuyama (-8), Patrick Cantlay (-8), Justin Rose (-7), Louis Oosthuizen (-7), Tommy Fleetwood (-7), Patrick Reed (-6), Brooks Koepka (-5) and Phil Mickelson (-5). Normally, I would say we don’t deserve this leaderboard, but listen, it’s 2020. We definitely deserve this leaderboard.
2. The Rory conundrum: It was a bizarre day for Rory McIlroy. He shot 75 to end his first round and then turned around and shot a bogey-free 66 that could have been a 64 if he’d hit any putts at all. He sounded just as befuddled in his post-round interview. “I honestly have been playing so good coming in here, and then I go into the first round and I shoot 75, and I’m like, ‘Where the hell did that come from?'” said McIlroy. “I knew it was in there, it was just a matter of, as I said, just trusting a little more and being committed. It was better this afternoon.” This stat sums up what sometimes happens to him at major championships (and especially at Augusta).
3. Bryson gets boned: Bryson DeChambeau made just three pars in 12 holes, but the most egregious of the bunch came at the par-4 3rd. He hit his drive up to the left of the green, where it got lost, and he had to re-tee before making triple. Balls were being found in the woods at No. 13 all day, but nobody could find DeChambeau’s ball in the second cut. Still, he’ll have an eagle putt on No. 13 after taking a laugh-out-loud line of the tee there and leaving himself 124 yards in. He’s 1 over, but the Bryson Experience isn’t over yet as the cut will likely land at even par.
4. The three favorites: Rahm (10/3), Johnson (9/2) and Thomas (6-1) are the three favorites, according to William Hill Sportsbook. One question we were discussing on “The First Cut” podcast on Friday night is whether you would rather be Rahm out on the course at 8 under with six holes left to play or Thomas and D.J. in the house at 9 under. I think I lean Rahm, and it’s clear Las Vegas does, too. J.T. and D.J. provide great foils for one another, and those three combined — you could make the case they have been the three best players of 2020 — if it comes down to them, would be a tremendous showdown (not to mention fantastic entertainment) for the final 36 holes.
5. Lefty? Maybe the biggest surprise of the week so far for me is Mickelson being 5 under. He and Tiger have done nothing (nothing!) over the last few months that would suggest they would even be remotely competitive here, and yet, he’s four back and right in the thick of it. Oh, he also said he’s “driving like a stallion” with his nearly 48-inch driver. He’s also hitting an inordinate amount of fairways (for him) with 21 of 28 through 36 holes.
6. Old guys keep rolling: On Thursday, it was 62-year-old Larry Mize. On Friday, it was 63-year-old Bernhard Langer. At one point, Langer was up seven on McIlroy. They’re now tied at 3 under, but Langer had himself a day with a 68-73 showing. He became the oldest player to ever make the cut at the Masters.