If you're looking for some intense, edge-of-your-seat, nail-biting action, look no further than the 2014 Masters.
Through two days at Augusta National, we've already experienced plenty of highs and lows.
There have been surging young players such as 20-year-old Jordan Speith, who currently sits at three-under par—just four strokes off the pace—in his first ever Masters appearance.
There's also been heartbreak. Phil Mickelson struggled through the first two days, recording scores of 76 and 73, respectively. Lefty finished his round on Friday at five-over par, missing the cut by just a single stroke.
Expect to see more of the same as we head into Round 3 of this prestigious tournament. Each surviving player still has a shot at the coveted green jacket. Rest assured, the leaderboard will continue to shift until the final ball is holed on Sunday evening.
2014 Masters Leaderboard
Players to Watch in Round 3
Of course Watson is the player to watch. After a blistering 68 on Friday—following his opening round of 69—Watson is the only player to shoot two sub-70 rounds so far this year.
Watson's confidence and momentum should be at an all-time high entering Saturday, as his back-nine surge in Round 2 was a sight to behold.
With some crisp ball striking, solid putting and incredible touch around the green, Watson recorded five consecutive birdies on the back nine to propel him to the top of the leaderboard.
Watson spoke of his string of birdies during an interview with Thomas Bonk of Masters.com:
It's one of those things, every guy in the field has had that stretch before, playing with their buddies or playing in a tournament, so it's not that big a deal when we think about it. But at the Masters, it makes it a big deal.
The lefty continued on in a telling, yet humorous, manner:
You've got to think about where I've come from, my mom having two jobs to pay for my golf, my dad working in construction. So if you think about it, it's an accomplishment for a guy named Bubba.
To lead The Masters after 36 holes is an incredible accomplishment, indeed.
Spieth is one of the few golfers who recorded two rounds in the red this year at Augusta.
This marks his first trip to The Masters, but he's been playing like a seasoned veteran. On Thursday, Spieth got off to a solid start, recording a one-under 71. He bettered that number on Friday, shooting a 70.
Now, he sits at three-under par and is just four strokes off the pace. His smooth, consistent swing gives him an edge, as he has the efficiency and strength to navigate the most treacherous of holes.
One such example was his eagle on the par-five 15th on Friday.
He absolutely crushed his drive down the center of the fairway, which set him up for one of the finest approaches of the tournament. He smoked a fairway wood just barely over the hazard and somehow got the ball to rest just past the pin. After a nicely stroked slick, downhill put and a fist pump later, he walked away with an eagle.
Keep an eye on this exciting player, as he strives to be the youngest-ever Masters champion.
The defending champion got off to a stellar start on Thursday, posting a round of 69—his exact same first-round score from a year ago.
Friday brought more obstacles for the Aussie, as his roller-coaster round tested his moxie and his patience.
After bogeying three of his first five holes, Scott quickly saw his score rise out of the red to even par. This unfortunate start to the round would befuddle many players, but not Scott.
He rallied during the back nine, recording birdies on holes 12, 13 and 15 to level himself off for the day, finish with a 72 and get back to his mark at three under.
Scott spoke with Thomas Bonk of Masters.com after his round and explained the course's difficulty on Friday:
It was very difficult out there today, and anything even par or better at a major is normally a good score, especially today, and I'd say it's kept me in the tournament. There's no way guys were playing flawless tee to green. It was so difficult. The greens were getting so firm in the afternoon that if you were out of position, it was almost impossible to hold greens. You needed to be right in the fairway and hopefully with a wedge in.
It was difficult, indeed.
Many of the world's top-ranked golfers—Phil Mickelson included—fell victim to Augusta National and failed to make the cut.
Scott was able to rise above and elevate his play to keep himself in contention to be the first back-to-back Masters winner since Tiger Woods in 2000 and 2001.
The momentum he gained during his back-nine rally on Friday bodes well for his chances to do just that.
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