Archive for April, 2011

Can McIlroy or Day continue to go low?

Rory McIlroy and Jason Day, golfers so young it seems they should be carrying around Fisher Price clubs, are doing something that hasn’t been done often at the Masters: they are scorching Augusta National.

McIlroy is the leader at 10 under. Day is in second with 8 under. They are paired again together today and will tee off at 2:45 p.m.

Their performances, particularly Day’s 8 under in Friday’s second round, bring to mind Tiger Woods’ masterful performance in 1997.

It also brings to mind what wise old veteran Fred Couples mentioned yesterday: you don’t see too many 20-22 years olds win the Masters.

They don’t have the experience, or maturity, to know the course or to keep their discipline.For example, Day was even par on Thursday before going low yesterday. It’s not uncommon for players to post one good round at Augusta. To post two is more difficult. Three … you get the idea.

Day is 23 and McIlroy is 21. This is Day’s first Masters. This is McIlroy’s third. He tied for 20th …

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Video: Can Tiger Woods take the lead?

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Looking ahead to Saturday at the Masters

Here’s what to expect on Saturday at Augusta National Golf Club for the third round of the Masters:

TV: CBS coverage will begin at 3:30 p.m and ends at 7 p.m. ESPN 3D will provide coverage from 5-7 p.m.

Weather: The high is expected to be 87 degrees with a low of 64. Winds are predicted to be from west-northwest, from 6-12 mph. Wear your sunscreen, drink plenty of fluids.

Open and close: Gates will open at 8 a.m. and close 30 minutes after play.

What happened last year? The average third-round score was 72.583. Lee Westwood had the lead at 12 under. Eventual champion Phil Mickelson was tied for second at 11 under.

Tee times to watch:

2:45 p.m.: Rory McIlroy and Jason Day

2:35 p.m.: K.J. Choi and Tiger Woods

2:25 p.m.: Geoff Ogilvy and Alvaro Quiros

2:05 p.m.: Fred Couples and Rickie Fowler

12:55 p.m.: Phil Mickelson and Gary Woodland

– Doug Roberson, AJC

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Looking back at day 2 of the Masters

A recap of Friday’s second round of the Masters:

Best score(s) of the day

Australia’s Jason Day went 8 under, one birdie away from tying the course record. Tiger Woods went 6 under in a round that included nine birdies.

Worst score of the day

Scotland’s Sandy Lyle, the 1988 champion, shot an 80 after a promising 73 in the first round. Mike Weir, who won this event in 2003, carded a 79.

Hardest hole of the day

Nos. 11 and 12 tied for the hardest hole in the second round. The average score on the 505-yard, par-4 11th was 4.253. It was also the hardest hole on Thursday (4.545). It gave up just four birdies, with 23 bogeys and three doubles on Friday. The average score on the 155-yard par-3 12th was 3.253. It gave up 15 birdies with 22 bogeys, six doubles and two others.

Easiest hole of the day

No. 13 was the easiest. The golfers navigated the 510-yard par 5 in an average of 4.576 strokes. It surrendered four eagles and 47 birdies.

Where’s the champ?

Phil …

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Fred Couples: the old man and the tee’s

AUGUSTA — Fred Couples is trying to believe, just like many of his fans who are walking the grounds of Augusta National, that he can win the Masters.

Though that walk included numerous stops to stretch his back, Couples posted an eye-popping and gallery-pleasing 68 on Friday and is 5 under par entering Saturday’s third round.

Can the 51-year-old Couples trump the 25th anniversary of Jack Nicklaus’ win, the win that established the Golden Bear as the oldest victor in Masters history?

“Six years ago … maybe,” he said. He unconvincingly added, “Could I win? Of course.”

But he said it’s going to take something extraordinary for him to add a second green jacket to his closet. He estimates he would need to get to 14 under.

Phil Mickelson, who played a practice round with Couples on Wednesday, said it’s not unrealistic that Couples could win because his putting continues to improve.

“It would be a pretty surprising feat, but not that surprising,” …

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Group goes 14 under at Masters

The threesome of Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Rickie Fowler combined to go 14 under on Friday in the second round of the Masters.

McIlroy, the tourney leader, shot a 69 is now 10 under. Day shot a 64 — one off tying the course record — and is 8 under. Fowler shot a 69 and is 5 under.

Officials at the tournament are trying to determine if that’s a record for a group.

– Doug Roberson, AJC

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Kuchar catches bad break at Masters

Matt Kuchar’s tee shot on No. 12 at the Masters plugged into the second cut between Rae’s Creek and the bunker in front of the green.

It took several minutes for his group to find the ball. Because it landed in the hazard line, he had to take a drop on the tee-side of the creek.

It appeared like it landed in the bunker during the live shot on CBS.

Kuchar took a 5 is 1 under for the tournament after starting the day 4 under.

– Doug Roberson

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Balance helping Geoff Ogilvy

Finding a balance in life is helping Geoff Ogilvy be successful on the golf course.

He shot up the leaderboard with his second 69 on Friday at the Masters. He’s trying to become the first Australian to win the tournament.

Though he made $2.4 million last year, almost half of that total came from winning the season-opening Tournament of Champions. He struggled for most of the year, missing the cut at The Players Championship, British Open, U.S. Open and PGA Championship.

“I had quite a rough last year, really,” he said. “I kind of reassessed it all and took quite a big break after Atlanta (Tour Championship).”

He found the joy in practicing again and figured out a schedule that enables him to work on his game and spend as much time as possible with his family.

“I’m getting more of a handle on how to balance life and tour golf, if you like,” he said.

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Geoff Ogilvy with a no-no at Masters

There are golf gods, and they anger easily.

Case in point, late Friday morning at the Masters. It was just a little slip-up of etiquette on the par-5 second hole, when Australian Geoff Ogilvy laid up close to the green before the group before him had cleared out. Raking a bunker closest to where Oglivy’s ball landed, Andy Prodger, K.J. Choi’s caddy, stopped, turned back toward the fairway and gave a what-the-heck-was-that shrug in Ogilvy’s direction.

Ogilvy’s punishment from the gods was swift: He chipped across the green, 30 feet past the hole and three putted for double bogey.

– Steve Hummer, AJC

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A great start for Fred Couples

After his 1-under start, Fred Couples said he thought he could post a low number in Friday’s second round of the Masters.

His intuition was right. He’s moved up the leaderboard and is now 5 under through the 12.

He birdied the par 5 second, the par 3 third and the par 4 seventh. He missed a birdie putt after a mammoth drive and solid approach on No. 9.

A crowd favorite because of his victory here in 1992, Couples, 51, is trying to become the oldest champion in Masters history … if his back can make it.

He has long had back issues that limit the events he can enter. He is wearing spikeless golf shoes, which are more comfortable than regular golf clogs, around the course to try and save his back any unnecessary strain.

He stretched between most holes on Thursday because he said he’s been feeling terrible for two weeks. He said he received some shots last week to help with the pain.

“It hurts just to stand,” he said Thursday. “So I keep moving around trying to feel good, and I …

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