Masters 2013 Results: Biggest Winners and Losers from Day 2
After two rounds at the 2013 Masters Tournament, we still have 18 players within four shots of the lead.
In other words [initiating southern drawl], it's awful close.
Lacking a clear front-runner to fete, prod and heap pressure upon, we're left with a jumble of potential lead narratives.
That isn't a bad thing, it just means we have plenty to dissect in today's installment of Winners/Losers. Let's get to it.
Winner: The Weather
For the second consecutive day, a line of storms swept through Eastern Georgia.
And for the second consecutive day, Augusta managed to avoid a direct hit.
Though showers did fall for a brief period Friday morning, they were relatively mild and did little to obstruct the pace of play.
Soon as they passed, Augusta National was awash in sunshine and spring breezes—the latter of which made things difficult for the players, but provided a wonderful backdrop for the gallery.
And with the forecast calling for clear skies this weekend, it would appear we'll dodge any major atmospheric disturbances at the always-dicey Masters Tournament.
As stated in the intro, we've yet to see a player break away from the pack this week at Augusta.
That isn't to say the first two days have lacked distinguished play.
Tiger Woods has looked comfortable from the first tee, Fred Couples is doing his usual Masters tap dance, Rickie Fowler has had his moments and a gaggle of Australians are hanging near the top of the leaderboard.
But no one has made that signature big run yet. No one has pushed the field forward or pressed the other golfers into action.
It's bad news if you're looking for clarity, but good news if you're a fan of crazy finishes.
And this one ought to be plenty crazy.
The list of Masters Champions includes players from 10 different nations, but none, remarkably, from Australia (don't remind Greg Norman).
Might the streak finally end this year?
Heading into the weekend, four Aussies are within earshot of the lead.
John Senden, the world's 50th-ranked player, played an excellent Friday round to finish at two under. Surprise Day 1 leader Marc Leishman held his own in the spotlight, shooting a one over to earn a share of second place. Usual suspect Adam Scott held even at three under.
And Jason Day was flat-out fantastic.
The 36th-ranked Day used a three-under back nine to finish at six under for the tournament and take sole possession of the top spot.
The two Spaniards that played so well on Thursday—Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Sergio Garcia—struggled apace in Round 2.
Fernandez-Castano shot a two-over 74, while Garcia, a Day 1 co-leader, limped to a four-over 76.
Now at two-under for the tournament, Garcia is still very much in contention. But for a player whose confidence is always in question, Garcia's inability to build on his opening day momentum and handle the increased attention that comes with an early lead is particularly discouraging.
Winner: Tiger and Rory
UPDATE: Saturday, April 13, 10 a.m. ET by Paul Mueller
Tiger may have found a way to slide into the losers category.
Early Saturday morning, Augusta officials determined that he took an illegal drop on hole No. 15 Friday. He was penalized two strokes, dropping him from three-under par to one-under par. He's now five strokes off the leader, Jason Day.
---End of Update---
The two biggest names in golf were at their best on Friday.
Rory McIlroy shook off an uneven start to sink three birdies on the back nine and finish the day at two-under. It was an impressive display of resilience from the youngster, one that re-announced him as a major player in this tournament headed into the weekend.
Woods was just as good.
The world's top golfer shot three under on the front nine and was on his way to a bogey-free round before an unlucky break on the 15th*. He ended the day in seventh place at three-under, but deserved a stroke or two better.
As it was on Day 1, Tiger appeared in total command of the golf course. This time, though, he did in far less favorable conditions.
No one is handing Woods is fifth straight green jacket just yet, but as Friday wore on and other top golfers dropped off the pace, it became harder and harder to imagine who might stop him.
*Woods' ball hit the flag stick flush and rolled into a water hazard. Major bummer.
The third member of golf's first-name-only fraternity wasn't nearly as impressive.
Three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson ended Day 1 hot, and looked primed for a breakout Friday.
Instead he slogged through a sloppy, four-over second round that included five bogies and a double.
Sitting a three-over for the tournament—nine shots off the lead—Mickelson is still in semi-contention, but that's only because we know how hot Lefty can get on this particular course. And even then, the margin for error this weekend is exceedingly slim.
Winner: Jason Dufner
Champion of good posture he is not, but Jason Dufner can certainly play a lil' golf.
The world's No. 18 shot a three-under 69 that included, get this, as many birdies as it did pars. If not for those four pesky bogies, Dufner might have finished the day even higher.
As is, the Auburn alum sits at three under for the tournament, tied for seventh place overall.
Loser: Dustin Johnson
When Dustin Johnson birdied 13 on Friday, he became the first player in the tournament to hit the seven under mark.
And then it all fell apart.
I mean it really fell apart.
Johnson's last five holes included two bogies, two doubles and just one par. By the end of it, a once-promising round had descended into the deep green hue of a plus-four.
Thank to a fantastic first 18, the uber-athletic South Carolinian is still at one-under for the tournament. But to contend at Augusta, he'll have to shake off one of the more miserable runs we've seen so far from a top contender.
And the fact that it came immediately after Johnson's first outright lead is doubly troubling.
Winner/Loser: The One-Stroke Penalty Assessed to Tianlang Guan
First, a quick recap.
Teenage sensation Tianlang Guan, the youngest-ever Masters participant, was docked a stroke on the 17th hole for slow play.
Guan ended up qualifying for the weekend anyway at four-over for the tournament, nine shots back of the lead.
Even then, I'm still not sure what to make of the decision.
All indications are that the rule was applied properly, and that Guan was given due warning ahead of time. Moreover, there is no evidence that Guan was singled out for any reason other than his tardiness.
It still sucks that a great young player who is doing great young things for a great old game was slapped with such an obscure penalty.
But if the ruling was correct, what else can you say?
It's not like you want the kid treated differently than the rest of his competitors.
He earned his spot in this weekend's proceedings fair and square. Perhaps it was fairer and squarer than one might have hoped, but better I'd rather he earn it the hard way than skate by on novelty status.
Winner: The Little Names Who Made the Cut
A few of the lower-ranked, lesser-known players to make the cut at Augusta:
Marc Leishman (-5, World Ranking No. 108)
Kevin Na (+2, No. 96)
Brian Gay (+2, No. 118)
John Huh (+3, No. 105)
Ryo Ishikawa (+4, No. 115)
Tianlang Guan (+4, Amateur)
John Peterson (+4, No. 343)
Loser: The Big Names Who Missed the Cut
A few of the bigger names and higher ranked players who missed the cut this year at Augusta:
Graeme McDowell (+5, No. 17)
Webb Simpson (+5, No. 20)
Y.E. Yang (+5, No. 154)
George Coetzee (+5, No. 43)
Louis Oosthuizen (+6, No. 6)
Ian Poulter (+7, No. 12)
Nicolas Colsaerts (+7, No. 42)
Hunter Mahan (+14, No. 21)