Expect the unexpected Saturday.
Cliche sure, but the first two rounds of the 2014 Masters at Augusta provided more thrills than even the top experts could have predicted.
The challenging course swallowed the biggest of names whole, which in turn allowed under-the-radar contenders and flat-out unknowns to jump into serious contention. As the action unfolds on Saturday, be sure to keep these odds and storylines in mind.
|FIELD (all others)||15-1|
Odds courtesy of Covers.
John Senden and Other Surprise Contenders
A few names made gigantic leaps on Friday to firmly plant themselves in the fray.
Chief among them was John Senden, who bumped himself 18 spots in the proceedings by tying for the best score of the day, a four-under 68. As Kelly Tilghman of the Golf Channel illustrates, Senden is working to help keep the Australian streak alive:
John Senden is trying to become the first Australian to win The Masters since the first Australian won The Masters last year.— Kelly Tilghman (@KellyTilghmanGC) April 11, 2014
Senden wasn't alone in his show-stealing ways. Thomas Bjorn shot himself up 24 spots with the same score. Jamie Donaldson exploded up the boards. Even Jim Furyk got in on the action after a 74 on Thursday with a four-under 68.
The point is any one of these names could continue on their hot streak. But perhaps even more likely is the propensity for yet another shocker to emerge as the degree of separation between the top players in the world is clearly minuscule.
Bubba Watson's Consistency
Don't look now, but Bubba Watson is on quite the tear. After a 69 on Thursday, Watson went out on Friday and kept it moving with a four-under 68 to take the top spot on the leaderboard.
As ESPN Stats & Info points out, this puts Watson is a strong place historically:
Bubba Watson currently holds 3 shot lead - the last 7 times the 36-hole leader at the Masters led by at least 3 shots, went on to win twice— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 11, 2014
Watson told the media after the round that he's changed his approach, per Bob Harig of ESPN:
"I'm coming back with the take that I want the jacket again," Watson said. "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."
The problem is, Watson is known for collapses. He flashed this propensity ever so briefly during his great round with a bogey on the 18th to finish the day. Perhaps it's nothing. Maybe it's a sign of things to come. Either way, it's once again Watson under the spotlight at Augusta.
The Past Winners
Those who have donned the green jacket in previous years have had different results thus far.
Fans know about Watson but check out 54-year-old Fred Couples, who won it all in 1992. He's hanging around at two under after shooting a 71 both days. He's had quite a bit of consistency to say the least, as ESPN's Justin Ray illustrates:
When play ends today, Fred Couples will be the only player to be in the top-10 at the Masters after 36 holes each of the last 5 years— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) April 11, 2014
Adam Scott won it all a year ago and sits in a great position to repeat thanks to his 72 on Friday. Only three names have done so but to count out Scott at this juncture would be unwise.
All things considered, just as a surprise could come out of nowhere and steal the jacket, a past champ could use his experience to fend off all challengers.
In other words, try not to blink this weekend.