Masters 2014 Results: Biggest Winners and Losers from Day 2
On a perfectly sunny day at Augusta, Bubba Watson (-7) singed the course, taking an early lead that left his competitors in the dust at the 2014 Masters.
The 2012 Masters champ turned the back nine into a pitch-and-putt, scoring five consecutive birdies on holes 12 through 16, finishing with a 68 and a three-shot lead.
It wasn’t Saturday, but it did feel like moving day as a number of top-ranked players missed the cut while others who seemed out of it climbed the leaderboard.
After 36 holes, the 2014 Masters features an eclectic leaderboard of top-ranked players, past major winners, and up-and-coming 20-somethings.
Here are the winners and losers from Day 2.
Winner: Unexpected Contenders
Two of the players who posted the best scores of the day were not named Adam Scott or Jason Day.
But fellow Aussie John Senden made a positive statement on Friday. Senden, who won the Valspar Championship last month, rang up a cool 68 that included four birdies on the back nine and put him into second place at four under, just three back of Bubba.
Meanwhile, 43-year-old Thomas Bjorn showed a steady hand as he shot his own 68 and rose 24 spots into a tie for third. Bjorn, who doesn't have a record of success in the Masters, birdied four of the last five holes and finds himself contending going into the weekend.
Loser: Tiger Woods Fans
This is not a bland Masters just because Tiger is not competing. You would have thought Twitter was going to break after Woods announced that his back surgery would stop him from playing in his 20th consecutive Masters.
Instead, after 36 holes we’ve got a lively, cutthroat competition led by one of the most aggressive players on tour who is being chased by a steely vet in 54-year-old Fred Couples and a fierce youngster in 20-year-old Jordan Speith.
Woods may be the face of golf, but the Masters is doing just fine—even shining—without him.
Winner: The Weather
Friday was a perfect spring day—a great day for golf at just 78 degrees and partly cloudy with just a hint of a breeze. What golfer wouldn’t want to play in that kind of weather?
Instead of rain and bluster, Augusta showered the fans and the pros in blazing sunshine providing an excellent opportunity for success.
The calm and clear weather is expected to continue throughout the weekend, which will also make those blistering greens even faster.
Loser: Second Day Momentum
Just because you tame Augusta National one day doesn't mean you'll be so lucky the next. Just ask Boo Weekly, who shot 73 on Day 1 and 83 on Day 2.
Marc Leishman opened with a terrific, two-under par 70 and was in contention until putting up a disastrous 79 Friday. Leishman finished fourth last year but missed the cut this year.
The young Italian Matteo Manassero shot 71 Thursday, but failed to tame the beast Friday after shooting a 79.
Winner: Fred Couples
If you have a fantasy team and didn't include Fred Couples, you made a big mistake.
That's because he has played the Masters 30 times, finished in the top 10 11 times, won it in 1992 and over the last four years hasn't finished outside of the top 15.
When it comes to Augusta, Fred is simply timeless.
So, is there any wonder that he's shot a pair of one-under 71s and is now tied for seventh place?
Loser: Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy put himself in excellent position after Day 1 and had all the momentum going into Augusta after a terrific rebound from a mediocre 2013.
He was one under after the first day, but then disaster struck. In addition to missteps of his own mainly on Augusta's slippery and deceptive greens, things really went wrong when his third shot on the par-five 13th hole hit a sprinkler head, sending his ball 20 feet in the air and directly into a maze of flowers.
Through the first four holes of the back nine, McIlroy was four over and was never able to fully recover.
Winner: Jimmy Walker
The rookies have played with an unexpected poise at Augusta, led by 35-year-old Jimmy Walker who made his first appearance at the Masters and is in contention at two under, five off the pace.
If you thought somehow that his three wins this year were a fluke, forget about it.
He has played solidly through 36, posting a 70-72 and standing in a tie for seventh place.
Loser: Patrick Reed
After a respectable one-over par 73 to open his first Masters, Reed bogeyed the first four holes of his second en route to a miserable 79 (+7).
The 23-year-old had won three times since August and was pretty high on himself, proclaiming that his success at his age made him "a top-five player in the world," per Ryan Lavner of Golf Channel.
Bold statement to say the least. His numbers have undeniably been strong on the PGA Tour this season, but all of that momentum came to a sudden halt Friday at Augusta.
Two of golf's best young players have made their presence known after the first two days at Augusta.
Henley fired a 70 on Friday to put himself in a tie for 10th at one under. The 24-year-old won the Honda Classic this year. Hopefully he can have a good birthday, which happens to be Saturday, moving day at the Masters.
Meanwhile, the 20-year-old Spieth (-3) continues to defy any and all expectations. He's tied for third and just a few strokes off the lead at his very first Masters. Facing off in the same group against fellow 20-somethings Rory McIlory and Patrick Reed, Spieth outshined both.
Loser: Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson missing the cut is a major disappointment for golf fans, for TV ratings and for the sport as a whole.
Despite a poor start to 2014 in which he's neither won nor put himself in contention, Mickelson has always had a flair for the Masters. He's a three-time Masters winner ('04, '06, '10), and owns 14 finishes in the top 10, as well 10 finishes in the top five.
But this time around, it wasn't meant to be.
Lefty's risk-reward style didn't pay off, posting rounds of 76 and 73.
Winner: Bubba Watson
The 2012 Masters champ is in some kind of rhythm, leading after 36 holes at the 2014 Masters.
Bubba Watson (-7) went on a tear Friday beginning in the middle of Amen Corner, carding five consecutive birdies from the 12th to the 16th hole.
"That five hole stretch was good," Watson said to reporters. "It's one of those where you're not focused on what you're doing, you don't know that you're making all these birdies, you're focused on one shot at a time.
"At Augusta that's what you have to do."
His comfort at Augusta is palpable. Watson plays his best when he can let loose, interact with fans and let his jolly personality shine, which is ideal with the lively crowds at the Masters.
After a poor 2013 season, Watson has bounced back. He's already won once this year at the Northern Trust Open and has a pair runner-up finishes. With a three-shot lead heading into the weekend, keep an eye on the heavy hitter.
Loser: Big Names
Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy weren't the only heavy hitters who struck out the first two days of the Masters. There are major winners and elite golfers who were favored by Vegas that will not see the weekend at Augusta.
Sergio Garcia was on his way to shedding the dubious title of "best player in the world without a major championship." Unfortunately he's going to have to keep waiting. Garcia posted rounds of 74 and 75, which is a shame since he came into this tournament with nearly as much momentum as anybody in the field—three top 10s in the last four tournaments and he ranks No. 1 in scoring average on tour and No. 1 in scrambling.
Jason Day was a heavy favorite coming in after a pair of top-three finishes in the last three years, as well as a bundle of other top-10 finishes in the majors in the last few seasons. Coming off six weeks of recovery from a thumb injury, Day simply wasn't sharp, and his rounds of 75 and 73 proved that. His time may come at Augusta, just not this year.
How much longer can we wait for Dustin Johnson to reach his potential in a major championship? When he's on, there may be no player as versatile and deadly as Johnson, who has five top-five finishes in his last seven events since winning the WGC-HSBC Championship in October. Johnson, though, was a no-show at this Masters.
Others who underachieved:
Phil Mickelson: 76-73 (+5)
Rory McIlroy: 71-77 (+4)
Keegan Bradley: 75-78 (+9)
Graeme McDowell:72-78 (+7)
Zach Johnson: 77-72 (+5)
Charl Schwartzel: 73-76 (+5)