Seemingly every year, golf fans are treated to some Augusta magic from players during the Masters. Bubba Watson did just that for his supporters on Friday.
The 2012 champion was absolutely brilliant during Round 2, finishing with a four-under 68 to bring his score to seven under par on the tournament. Watson was at least three strokes ahead of every single golfer in the field as of this writing.
If Watson continues to play at this torrid pace, it’s difficult to envision anybody challenging the lefty for the green jacket come Sunday.
Watson’s low scores are a direct result of his consistency. He hit 28 of the 36 greens during the first two days of the tournament and only has two bogeys in both rounds combined. In fact, his second bogey of the tournament didn’t even come until the 18th hole during Round 2 after he missed a short par putt following a brilliant approach.
Watson’s doing more than just registering pars though.
He birdied holes No. 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 in an incredible stretch of golf. It was an astounding bounce back from his first bogey of the tournament on hole No. 9, and he almost tallied a hole-in-one on 16.
Watson attributed his excellence during the first two rounds to the fact that there is less pressure on him now that he is a couple of years removed from his Masters championship, via Bob Harig of ESPN.com:
It's pressure. You're playing the best golf course in the world. So when you're out here, it's a little bit different. The emotions are different because I'm trying to get the green jacket again. I had it, there's so much you're doing when you're defending champ, and my mind can't handle it.
Adam [Scott] seems to be doing pretty well with it. But for me it was just overwhelming. The champions' dinner, everybody still congratulating you, so I just never got the focus. I played really bad on Sunday last year.
I'm coming back with the take that I want the jacket again. I'm coming back with a different mindset, full of energy. I haven't had any media [leading up to the tournament] because nobody cares about the guy a couple of years ago. So it's been good.
Watson, who ranks first on the entire PGA Tour in driving distance per PGATour.com, is bombing his tee shots and finding the greens on his approaches. That is a nearly unbeatable combination at Augusta.
Another reason that Watson appears well on his way to another green jacket is the fact that many of the marquee names in the field struggled Friday.
ESPN.com’s Harig and Shane Bacon of Yahoo! Sports pointed out that both Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson had a rough go of things Friday, at least early on:
Mickelson checked in at five over par through two rounds, but Scott was still at two under par as of this writing despite the early struggles. Elsewhere, Rory McIlroy was over par, Ian Poulter was grinding after a disappointing first round and Dustin Johnson finished his first two rounds at a shockingly abysmal seven over par.
It is worth mentioning, when looking forward to the weekend, that things can change very quickly at Augusta. All it would take is a few bad holes to bring Watson back to the rest of the field.
However, if Watson continues to avoid bogeys and mix in the occasional birdie, it will be difficult for the other golfers to catch him. Throw in the fact that he has momentum on his side from his recent title at the Northern Trust Open at Riviera, plus a handful of other top-10 finishes this season, and Watson is the favorite to win the 2014 Masters at this point.
He may not even need to break the laws of physics by bending the ball around a tree and landing it on the green this time around.
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