Can Anyone Catch Chad Campbell?

Jim NguyenCorrespondent IApril 10, 2009

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 09:  Chad Campbell hits his tee shot on the 17th hole during the first round of the 2009 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 9, 2009 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Chad Campbell is not new to being in contention at the Masters. After all, he had a lead after two rounds in 2006, finishing third in that tournament, which was eventually won by Phil Mickelson.

Fast forward three years, and it’s a longer, meaner Augusta National, but the weather has been balmy, leading to low scores. To wit, there were a record 19 players who shot in the 60’s and another 19 who shot under par, both records.

In the past, poor weather made the course almost unplayable, but now the players have the advantage and can go aggressively at many pins.

As for Campbell, he has taken full advantage of the prime scoring conditions to rocket up the leaderboard once more. He flirted with a major record 10 strokes under par before succumbing at the 17th and 18th holes, bogeying both.

On the day, he had nine birdies, and two bogeys, including a record five straight birdies in the first five holes. He is a streaky player, who is known to go on birdie binges when his putter catches fire.

He’s also been tabbed as a promising player, but perhaps now is his time. He was favored to win or play well at major tournaments in the past, but since he did not play at the Masters last year, he comes in underrated in 2009.

He has some additional advantages starting off the second round. The first is that he gets to play in the morning, when the conditions are their best. There has been some wind, but it’s been more of an afternoon breeze.

There will be scattered thunderstorms later today, but Campbell benefits from the early start, probably avoiding any effects of that storm. The weather also should return to partly cloudy, calm and mid-70s temperatures for both Saturday and Sunday.

Campbell has picked up where he left off and has already garnered two birdies on the day, three ahead of his nearest competitors at this point. He is showing that he is taking full advantage of these favorable scoring conditions.

Where is Tiger Woods? Well, he is seven strokes off the pace set by Campbell, but he was five strokes off when the day started.

That means Woods and everyone else chasing Campbell has to go low to have a shot going into Sunday. Woods has in the past counted on rough weather, difficult pin placements, and nerves to get back into contention on Sunday at Augusta.

He may not have that luxury and will likely have to shoot sub-par rounds to have a chance, as a major meltdown is possible, but not as likely with Campbell due to the conditions. However, Campbell has yet to win a major, so it will be interesting if he remains as cool as a cucumber or if the nerves begin to set in over the weekend.

There’s still a lot of golf to be played, but Chad Campbell has a wonderful opportunity to win his first major and slip on a green jacket. Will he fulfill his potential or will the pressure and the field catch up to him? It’ll be exciting to see how the next two days play out.


Jim Nguyen also writes for, a social gaming and content website.