Biggest Questions Entering Moving Day at 2014 Masters

Lindsay Gibbs@linzsports Featured ColumnistApril 12, 2014

Biggest Questions Entering Moving Day at 2014 Masters

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    After two rounds of play at the Masters, the leaderboard doesn't look anything like the experts predicted it would. Of course, that's why they play the game.

    We all knew that Tiger Woods wouldn't be a part of this weekend at Augusta, but few expected Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Zach Johnson and Dustin Johnson to be back at home as well. Even the pre-tournament favorite Rory McIlroy struggled to make the cut.

    But even without a few familiar faces, there are still plenty of great storylines headed into Saturday. Here are the biggest questions left to be answered. 

Can Adam Scott Become the 4th Golfer to Repeat as Masters Champion?

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    Adam Scott is trying to join an exclusive club and become only the fourth player in the history of the Masters to repeat as champion.

    It wasn't looking good early in his round on Friday. Scott had three bogeys on the first nine and was fading fast as Bubba Watson surged up the leaderboard. But Scott steadied himself like a champ and birdied three of the last seven holes to finish even par.

    Scott is only four shots behind Watson, and the Aussie is certainly within striking distance of history. 

Will Bubba Watson Win His Second Green Jacket?

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    Friday was Bubba's day at the Masters. The 2012 champion shot a 68, which was tied for the best round of the day, and moved to seven under. He has the outright lead by three strokes headed into the weekend. 

    Bubba has put himself at the top of the leaderboard by hitting 28 of 36 greens and shooting only two bogeys. On the back nine on Friday, Watson hit five birdies in a row to give himself some breathing room on the leaderboard. 

    According to Bob Harig of ESPN, Watson is enjoying the fact that he's not the defending champion anymore. 

    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.

    With the pressure off, Watson has been able to shine. Nonetheless, Watson needs to buck some other history if he's to claim his second green jacket. As the Golf Channel's Ryan Lavner notes, Watson is just 1-of-8 when holding a 36-hole lead.

Can Fred Couples Turn the Clock Back to 1992?

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    Fred Couples won his lone major championship at the Masters back in 1992. Now, at the age of 54, he's headed into the weekend within striking distance of another green jacket.

    Couples scored a 71 on Thursday and Friday, and therefore heads into Saturday at two under, five strokes behind the leader. This isn't a new thing for him—Couples is the only player in the field to be in the top 10 after the first two days for the past five years. In 2012, he was the co-leader headed into the weekend, but he fell apart on Saturday and finished tied for 12th. 

    The challenge for Couples will be to keep up playing well on Saturday. If he is able to make up the ground, he would become the oldest winner in Masters history. 

Does Rory McIlroy Have a Miracle Comeback Left in Him?

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    Coming into this week, Rory McIlroy was the odds-on favorite to win the tournament and get his first green jacket.

    The 24-year-old was in a good position after finishing one under on Thursday, but a disastrous 77 on Friday saw him fighting just to play the weekend. McIlroy's round on Friday included shots from azalea bushes, fence posts and wooded areas that were not at all golf-ball friendly.

    But the two-time major champion was able to stave off a complete disaster by making a put for par on the 18th green to make the cut. He is 11 shots behind leader Bubba Watson and will need to play the best golf of his career to have a chance at a historic comeback. 

Can John Senden Win His 1st Major?

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    Adam Scott is in the mix, but he's not even the top Aussie in the field after two days of play. That distinction goes to 42-year-old John Senden. Senden is by himself at second place on the leaderboard at four under, only three strokes behind Watson. He shot a 68 on Friday, which tied Watson and a few others as the best round of the day.

    Senden has six professional wins in his career, but his highest finish at a major was tied for fourth at the 2007 PGA Championship. His best Masters finish was last year, when he finished tied for 35th. That was the first time in his career that Senden even made the cut at the Masters.

    If Senden can shoot a round on Saturday that's close to as good as his Friday card was, the veteran will be in the hunt for his maiden major on Sunday. What a story that would be. 

Can 20-Year-Old Jordan Spieth Become the Youngest Masters Winner?

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    So far, there are no rookie jitters for Jordan Spieth. The 20-year-old, who was the PGA Rookie of the Year last year, has looked like a poised veteran on the greens of Augusta.

    Spieth shot two-under par on Friday, moving him to three under for the tournament. He will be playing alongside defending champion Adam Scott on Saturday in a group that will surely be closely watched.

    Currently, Tiger Woods is the youngest winner in Masters history. Woods was 21 years old and 104 days when he won back in 1997. Spieth, who won't turn 21 until July 27, was only three years old when Woods accomplished that feat. 

Who Will Make a Surprise Run?

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    It seems like every year on Saturday there is a player who comes from nowhere to put himself into contention for the green jacket in the final round. While eyes are on Jordan Speith, Fred Couples, Bubba Watson and Adam Scott, there are plenty of other players in the mix who are keeping a low profile in Augusta heading into the weekend.

    The 35-year-old rookie Jimmie Walker is sitting on the leaderboard at two under, as is 2003 U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk. Kevin Streelman, Thomas Bjorn, Jonas Blixt, Stephen Gallacher, Russell Henley, Kevin Stadler and Jamie Donaldson are all under par as well. 

    Farther back, dangerous players such as Lee Westwood, Louis Oosthuizen and K.J. Choi are all in the position to play themselves into the conversation with a great round on Saturday. Anything can happen at the Masters, and at least a few unexpected stories are sure to emerge on moving day.