The second round of the 2013 Masters Tournament is underway, and it appears that scoring conditions will be substantially more difficult than they were through the first 18 holes.
It is going to be extremely interesting, as first-round co-leaders Sergio Garcia and Marc Leishman hold the lead at six-under. ESPN's Justin Ray suggests the 33-year-old Spaniard will maintain his fine form, if history is any indication:
Sergio Garcia: entering today, 5 straight Friday rounds of par or better at @the_masters - combined 12-under in those rounds.— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) April 12, 2013
As far as Garcia is concerned, he is off to a somewhat difficult start, parring his first two holes before dropping to minus-five at No. 3. Life is difficult at Augusta National right now amidst heavy rain showers that are peppering the pristine course.
UPDATE: Friday, April 12 at 12:45 p.m. ET by Matt Fitzgerald
Garcia is grinding through his second round amidst the difficult conditions. The rain has finally ceased, and after dropping two strokes over the first four holes, the artist formerly known as El Niño has parred the past five holes to turn in two-over 38.
Long-hitting Dustin Johnson managed mere pars at both par-fives, but he's hanging tough at one-over through eight holes and is minus-four overall. His day is highlighted so far by a spectacular, snake of a putt that he holed at No. 4.
From just off the back of the par-3 green, Johnson's putt smashed into the center of the flagstick from about 40 feet away.
A double bogey at No. 11 has dropped Trevor Immelman back to two-under overall, and Matt Kuchar got as low as five-under before back-to-back bogeys at Nos. 4 and 5.
14-year-old Tianlang Guan parred the first two holes of Amen Corner to remain at plus-three overall entering No. 12.
The other big storyline continues to be the struggles of Rory McIlroy. An ugly three-putt at the opening hole and subsequent dropped shot at No. 3 has him two over-par for the day and for the tournament. Given the strong winds and poor putting form, it will be difficult for the precocious two-time major champion to climb back into contention.
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Golf Channel's Todd Lewis reports that Mother Nature's presence will be a fleeting one, as the precipitation is expected to subside just before the afternoon hits:
A front is rolling through Augusta and it is raining on the course.Should rain over the next 45 mins.No electricity so play goes on..— Todd Lewis (@ToddLewisGC) April 12, 2013
Network personality Jason Sobel indicated that increased winds and several sucker pins would make life difficult for the world's best golfers. He also made a clever allusion to Augusta National Golf Club chairman Billy Payne:
Higher winds and tougher pin placements. Compared with yesterday, Augusta National is going to bring the … Payne.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) April 12, 2013
Several of the top performers from Day 1 are already feeling that pain.
Dustin Johnson was just one stroke back from the lead entering Round 2 but has bogeyed two of the first three holes. The beloved Fred Couples remedied a dropped shot at the first with a birdie at No. 3.
Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño fired a 68 to commence his second appearance at the year's maiden major but has dropped three strokes after opening with a birdie today. 2008 green jacket bearer Trevor Immelman remains steady at even-par through seven holes and four-under for the tournament.
The biggest storylines thus far involve two golfers that aren't quite near the lead but are playing relatively well—and are nearly four decades apart in age.
Bernhard Langer eagled No. 2 to get to two-under overall after a stellar round of 71 on Thursday. He's one over-par through four holes due to three other bogeys, but the two-time Masters champion is showing he still has something left in the tank.
It would be regrettable not to mention 14-year-old Tianlang Guan, too. The Chinese prodigy had a sensational round of 73 Thursday and continues to remain afloat. Guan is one-over through six holes, with the dropped shot coming at the par-three, 240-yard No. 4.
World No. 2 Rory McIlroy continues to struggle, with a bogey to start his round on the wrong note.
Plenty of other big names have either yet to hit the course or are just getting underway, and it will be interesting to see how the drastic change in wind direction will shape the leaderboard.