19:44 (ET) FINAL THOUGHTS -
Poulter and Westwood playing together must surely have its advantages, both are comfortable in each other’s presence and surely they both can’t fail?
Westwood and Poulter are both in their prime. So much of the test around Augusta is how you perform around the greens and both are primed in the putting department. Unfortunately for both, the highest and most grand of stages often blunts the intuition of many.
Both Westwood’s and Poulter’s careers bear out that fact – Westwood delivered a disturbing harbinger in the final three holes today. Nevertheless, they would both be at pains to point out that you have to be in contention a few times to learn how to win.
But that has hollow resonance. Majors have served to conspire against them in the not so distant past. The Terror of failure is sometimes over-whelming and it is always tempting to revert to type when the pressure is greatest and both have succumbed before.
Anthony Kim has the precocity of youth, which is somewhat immune to tension and unaware of the magnitude of the challenge. It will serve him well but perhaps this is a hurdle too far.
Of the leading contenders only Woods and Mickelson possess the necessary prescience to cope with the final day of a major event.
Sceptics of Wood’s challenge - most just serving to exaggerate the achievement in the event Tiger does pull off the inconcievable(cough, cough Mike Wilbon) - must surely now have been put to bed.
Woods has dispatched the critics and that ''nadir'' in his life with familiar contempt.
He possesses all the attributes to produce perhaps his most astonishing achiement. His nerve is as impressive as it is chilling. He certainly does not fear Augusta National. Au contraire! It has almost served as his personal playground the last decade, the place echoes with his deeds.
If I was a betting man I would stick with what I know. And what I know is that when push comes to shove, the field crumbles and Tiger remains, unyielding, to emerge victorious.
END OF DAY TWO LEADERBOARD (Today's scores in brackets)
|Lee Westwood||-8 (-3)||18|
|Ian Poulter||-8 (-4)||18|
|Anthony Kim||-6 (-2)||18|
|Tiger Woods||-6 (-2)||18|
|KJ Choi||-6 (-1)||18|
|Ricky Barnes||-6 (-2)||18|
|Phil Mickelson||-6 (-1)||17|
|Yong-Eun Yang||-5 (E)||17|
|Soren Kjeldsen||-3 (-1)||18|
|Fred Couples||-3 (+3)||18|
Final thoughts and weekend predictions to follow...
19:12 (ET) The last of the leaders complete their round. Mickelson and Y E Yang take very different routes but the outcome is the same, two pars and to finish 6-under and five-under, respectively.
18:52 (ET) Kim sends a howitzer off the eighteenth tee and gets a fortunate bounce from a tree branch. He thrashes at his approach shot which skews left and sends the gallery into opposite directions. Finally he converts after a failed vain attempt at an up-and-down and finishes his round with a 70 leaving him, tied for third at 6-under.
Someone called Phil Mickelson moves to within two of the lead as he sinks his birdie putt on the 17th green.
18:35 (ET) Miraculously, Westwood salvages a bogey with a steady up-and-down. He finishes tied for the lead with his compatriot Ian Poulter at 8-under, but what could have been?
18:28 (ET) Things go from bad to worse for seemingly cursed Englishman. Westwood's seemingly brilliant third shot land agonisingly close to perfection...but alas it rolls back down the hill, making a bogey seem unlikely. Doesn't this reek of his collapse in '99?
18:20 (ET) Westwood has now taken it upon himself to completely capitulate right before our eyes. He duffs his tee shot which heads into the pine cones, forcing him to hack out sideways. A bogey now has become his oyster at eighteen.
18:05 (ET) This really is turning into the Westwood and Kim late, late, show. Kim poduces an exquisite up and down to record a birdie at 15 then follows it up minutes later with a quite sublime tee shot at the par-three sixteenth which finishes a few feet from the cup. He taps in to move to seven-under. This prodigious American talent may be finally coming of age.
17:42 (ET) Westwood puts his previous blemish behind him with fantastic first two shots which leave him with an eagle putt at 15. He duly obliges with a birdie moving him back into sole possession of the lead at nine-under.
17:30 (ET) Phil Mickelson left himself a good 40 feet uphill for eagle at 13 and produces a wonderful putt that dies next to the cup to secure a certain birdie that will put him alongside Kim at five-under, three back of the lead.
Meanwhile Els fails to convert a birdie that would have sent him to 3-under.
17:15 (ET) Kim managed to salvage par at thirteen, Westwood dropped two at the fourteenth, where he failed to make the green from a standard pitch shot dropping him to 8-under-par and in a tie for the lead with Poulter
16:57 (ET) Perhaps a Tom Watson resurgence is in the making? A beautiful third shot at the fifteenth leaves him a three foot putt, which duly dispatches for birdie lifting him back to 4-under and on the fringes of the leaderboard. As the old axiom goes, 'you can't keep a good man down.'
16:49 (ET) LEADERBOARD UPDATE
The leaderboard is beginning to take shape now for the impending weekend. If it remains as it is now, there is an abundance of well-known names and is littered with intrigue, plots and sub-plots. A weekend to remember may very well be in the making.
|Lee Westwood||-10 (-5)||13|
|Ian Poulter||-8 (-4)||18|
|Tiger Woods||-6 (-2)||18|
|KJ Choi||-6 (-1)||18|
|Ricky Barnes||-6 (-2)||18|
|Anthony Kim||-5 (-1)||12|
|Yong-Eun Yang||-5 (Level)||10|
|Phil Mickelson||-4 (+1)||10|
|Fred Couples||-3 (+3)||18|
|Soren Kjeldsen||-3 (+3)||18|
16:44 (ET) Westwood two-putts and records a birdie at the thirteenth to extend his lead to two. As an aside, the Big-Easy is starting to stir. Ernie has made two birdies in three holes to position himself at 2-under. Els currently lies tied in twelfth.
16:35(ET) Westwood displays commendable bravery as he sends his second shot towards the green and over the stream on the par-five thirteenth. The ball clutches onto the edge of the green as if life depended upon it. What makes the shot even more remarkable is that Westwood had the ball above his feet and he need not of taken such a bold risk owing to the fact he leads the Masters.
16:25 (ET) Anthony Kim watches his par putt at the treacherous eleventh hole zip past the cup. A bogey five drops him back to five-under.
16:18 (ET) Lee Westwood saves par at the twelfth with a clutch putt after a over-zealous approach went over the back of the green. Ian Poulter quotes after completion of round today, 'I enjoyed it. I hit great shots and created chances. The wind made it more difficult especially with the tricky pins...I haven't felt nervous all week... I'm a leaderboard watcher and was full aware of what Lee was doing, it spurs you on to make another birdie.'
16:03 (ET) TIGER UPDATE: Woods is in the clubhouse with a 70 and 6-under after two rounds. I think its fair to say that Tiger has suffered no ill effects from his lay-off. He has returned to the public conscience in his familiar inimitable style. And will be an imposing presence throughout the weekend.
16:01 (ET) Westwood produces a sublime approach to a seemingly inaccessible pin and completed the formality of sinking the four foot putt to move to 9-under and sole possession of the lead.
15:56 (ET) Tiger Woods continues to be obdurate in all that he does. As if the scandal surrounding him wasn't enough he's forced to deal with unfavorable bounces from sprinklers! Yet Tiger defies his detractors and birdied from around twenty feet at the fifteenth, he's since followed that up with two pars and resides in third place at 6-under.
15:46 (ET) I was getting ahead of myself again. Poulter bogey's the seventeenth to card a 68 and take the lead in the clubhouse at 8-under-par. Maybe we will have to settle for toned down salmon-pink tomorrow. On a serious note, Poulter has proved himself to be one of the best putters inside ten-feet in recent years. To have this in his arsenal down the stretch at the Masters may prove invaluable.
15:43 (ET) Amazingly if Poulter pars the eighteenth he will card a bogey-free round of 67. That is surely worthy of donning a pink polkadot surprise outfit on Saturday!
15:35 (ET) There seems to be a trend today to assume that as a result of the overnight rain and tough pin placements it is playing much more difficult today than yesterday. The statistics do not neccessarily bear that out though. On Thursday 31 players scored under-par, today 23 are under par.
15:23 (ET) TIGER UPDATE: Tiger is stalking the leaders now. He birdies the sixteenth, ominous signs for those up front as he slots into a tie for third at 6-under. I think we have seen this before somewhere.
15:20 (ET) Ian Poulter quickly makes my latest Leaderboard update redundant by finding a birdie at the short par-three sixteenth. Poulter and Westwood are moving away from the field now. Anthony Kim is closest, three back on 6-under.
15:09 (ET) LEADERBOARD UPDATE
Fred Couples nostalgic moment in the spotlight appears to have been short lived. He finished with three consecutive bogeys to card a 75. He remains tied for the lead in the clubhouse with 3-under. Continuing our senior moment, Tom Watson is having similar struggles and appears to be losing sight of the leaders after two bogeys in three holes puts him 3-under after 10.
15:05 (ET) Mickelson's vaunt in third place is short lived as he gives a shot back at the fifth.
15:00 (ET) Leaderboard is now beginning to read like a who's who of modern professional golf. Lee Westwood has got his nose in front of Ian Poulter with a birdie at seven, taking him to 9-under-par. The Par-five eighth is up next for Westwood. Anthony Kim is hot today, four pars and two birdies through his first six holes and he's now rubbing shoulders with Mickelson and Tiger Woods in joint third at 6-under-par.
14:34 (ET) Lee Westwood rejoins his compatriot in first place at 8-under, with a birdie two at the sixth.
14.30 (ET) Predictably Woods answers any sceptics with a monster 30-foot putt to birdie the thirteenth and move to five-under. Maybe having a slightly inferior short game at Augusta doesn't matter all that much.
14:24 (ET) Westwood bogey's the fourth to move back into sole possession of second place at 7-under. Woods meanwhile leaves another chip shot short of the green. This has become emblematic of Woods' failures at the Masters in recent years. His short game has seemed to fray slightly in each of his last four failures at Augusta.
14:18 (ET) We have an all English twosome sitting atop the leaderboard! Ian Poulter joins Lee Westwood at 8-under-par with a fine four at the par-five thirteenth.
14:16 (ET) For anyone that has not realised yet, the last update was a little tom-foolery. The new reformed Tiger would never dream of resorting to such poor etiquette now, would he?
On another note Anthony Kim's second round is underway and he starts as he means to go on. A birdie at the third takes the charismatic American to 5-under-par and a share for fifth place.
14:10 (ET) TIGER UPDATE: Tiger's missed putt at the twelfth is followed by a tirade of obscenities, he hurtles his club into the crowd narrowly missing a spectator.
14:05 (ET) Ian Poulter rise up the leaderboard is accompanied by a CBS announcer's complimentary advertising for the Englishman's own personal clothes-line. Quite why anyone would want to look like a great pink dandy is beyond me. But for anyone who does I am told it's available on his website.
13:58 (ET) LEADERBOARD UPDATE
Time for a leaderboard update. Positions are now changing thick and fast, be prepared for a bumby ride. Today's scores are in brackets. Phil Mickelson is now underway with a par at the first.
|Lee Westwood||-8 (-3)||4|
|Ian Poulter||-7 (-3)||12|
|Fred Couples||-5 (+1)||14|
|Tom Watson||-5 (Level)||6|
|Yong-Eun Yang||-5 (Level)||1|
|Tiger Woods||-4 (Level)||10|
|KJ Choi||-4 (+1)||10|
|Anthony Kim||-4 (Level)||1|
13:50 (ET) Westwood is on fire! He follows his eagle with a birdie at the third. Now 8-under-par he holds a two shot lead over the field.
13:47 (ET) Tiger leaves his approach shot short at the eleventh. He now has a treacherous up and down for par to maintain his 4-under-par.
13:37 (ET) Lee Westwood makes an eagle at the second. He now leads the Masters at -7. We have been here before with Lee and he managed to throw away Major tournaments, can he finally get over the hump?
13:28 (ET) Tom Watson continues to bounce around, bogey-birdie-bogey-birdie to return to 5-under. Perhaps he has an aversion to pars, they are a little mundane after all.
13:20 (ET) TIGER UPDATE: Tiger moves serenely along at par for the day. A run of six straight pars following a bogey. He enters Amen Corner in contention but without the heroics of yesterday.
13:09 (ET) Couples continues to play beautiful approach shots. His ball stops dead on the twelfth to leave a ten foot putt. Again he mis-reads the putt and has to settle for a continued share of the lead.
13:02 (ET) Freddie Couples fails to capitalise on a wonderful drawing approach shot by fluffing the putt. He is forced to settle for a par and remains at 6-under.
12:48 (ET) Ian Poulter has now made it a three-way tie atop the leaderboard with a birdie at the Par-5 Eighth. The World No.8 was fancied by many a pundit before the start of the week and with a red-hot putter he certainly is worth a punt at 8/1.
12:42 (ET) Tom Watson sets off as one of the most unlikeliest of Master's contenders. He begins with a bogey the first to drop from fourth to seventh at 4-under.
12:35(ET) Sandy Lyle who started at 3-under this morning now lies at 10-over-par. It seems Sandy is seeking to break Charles Kunkle's highest score record of 23-over par 95 in 1956, if he makes a 14 at the Eighteenth he will do it.
12:23 (ET) Freddie Couples enters the notorious Amen Corner having bogied the ninth. His two shot lead has evaporated and he now finds himself tied for the lead at 6-under with Ricky Barnes.
12:08 (ET) Freddie continues to saunter along with a par at the eighth. P.S Apologies for the gargantuan Leaderboard table I shall try to sort that out
11:56 (ET) LEADERBOARD UPDATE
Ian Poulter (Eng)
KJ Choi (Kor)
11:48 (ET) Perennial under-achiever Adam Scott drops a shot at the first but atones at the third with a birdie to take back to level par for the day and 3-under for the tournament.
11:45 (ET) Ricky Barnes follows a par at the first with two consecutive birdies to move within one of Couples at 6 under. Meanwhile Tiger drops his first shot of the day at the par-3 fourth and slips back to 4-under.
11:18 (ET) TIGER UPDATE: Tiger Woods birdies the second to join the chorus on 5-under, all still playing back up vocals to lead singer Fred Couples. Nevertheless always an ominous sign when Tiger is making a move at such an early stage.
11:04 (ET) Ian Poulter birdies the second to move into a tie for second place at 5-under. Poulter is in his mid 30's now and it's about time he fulfilled the potential that has always been evident.
10:55 (ET) TIGER UPDATE: A steady par to begin the second round. Incidentally, the great pink dandy that is Ian Poulter is underway with a par to remain at 4-under.
10:52 (ET) In case you haven't guessed already the last update was mere foolery. The new reserved, approachable Tiger Woods would never swear and he certainly would not berate a spectator. Would he?
10:42 (ET) TIGER UPDATE - Tiger swears at a spectator in the crowd at first tee, Stevie Williams confiscates the offenders camera.
10:36 (ET) Not that I want to over-emphasise Couples' achievement thus far, but, course reports state that the overnight rain coupled with tougher pin positions and a strong breeze are making low scoring difficult.
10:32 (ET) Just to put Freddie Couples's birdie at the second in perspective. This is a 50-year-old man who spends his time on the Champions Tour birdieing the LONG second hole and increasing his lead to two at the Masters.
10:25 (ET) Soren Kjeldsen is quietly moving up the leaderboard as he finds a birdie two at the fourth to move to 3-under. Nick Watney erases his early birdie with a bogey at the sixth. Freddie Couples extends his lead to two with a birdie at the par-5 Second. Surely Freddie can't keep this up, nostalgia is beginning to set in - are we back in 1991?
09:57 (ET) Nick Watney adds a birdie to his four pars to move into tie for second. Fred Couples arrival at the first tee was greeted with rapturous applause but suffers the indignity of a hooked tee shot, he manages to rescue a par to remain 6-under.
09:23 (ET) Sorry to be focusing too much on Sandy but his start to round two continues to be woeful. His start is in stark contrast to yesterday, 6-6-6-4, to leave him 6-over for the day and 3-over for the week. Perhaps Sandy doesn't like early starts?
08:55 (ET) Nick Watney is out on the course and starts solidly with a par at the first to remain 4-under and tied for seventh. Things go from bad to worse for Sandy Lyle as he slips even further back to level-par. A plethora of bogeys and double-bogeys to start the day, course playing slightly longer today as a result of pin placement. Master's officials none too pleased with yesterday's low scores?
08:38 (ET) Sandy Lyle double-bogeys the first to drop to 1-under. Perhaps its a little premature to ask if this is the beginning of the all-too-familiar European collapse at the Masters. But is it?
08:15 (ET) This may be of no relevance to the leaderboard but it is worth noting that New Zealand's Michael Campbell starts the day at 12-over-par. Whatever happened to that guy? Since his 2005 US Open win, he seems to spend most of his time chasing his ball around the green or searching for it in trees.
08:03 (ET) We're underway! First players teed off ten minutes ago. The lack of coverage until the early afternoon will mean updates will be a little sparse in the meantime. However, there is coverage through Amen Corner - but even that is a few hours away. If anyone wants updates on specific players just let me know.
07:56 (ET) Selected Tee times for leaderboard players -
0812 Sandy Lyle (Gbr), Justin Leonard, Kevin Na
0940 Fred Couples, Sergio Garcia (Spa), Shingo Katayama (Jpn)
1024 Yuta Ikeda (Jpn), Ian Poulter (Gbr), Steve Stricker
1035 Tiger Woods, Matt Kuchar, KJ Choi (Kor)
1225 Tom Watson, Tim Clark (Rsa), Steve Marino
1258 Mike Weir (Can), Lee Westwood (Gbr), (x) Matteo Manassero (Ita)
1320 Ernie Els (Rsa), Anthony Kim, Ryo Ishikawa (Jpn)
1342 Phil Mickelson, Robert Allenby (Aus), Yong-eunYang (Kor)
07:52 (ET) The leaderboard as it stands prior to the start of Round 2
07.42 (ET) Augusta National. The majestic masterpiece which has provided the backdrop for many dramatic and historic sporting moments. A place which stands the test of time yet refuses to embrace modern or contemporary trends which pass before it.
Quite simply the most prestigious event in the major golfing calender.
Day One served up the usual surprise and intrigue we have come to expect in the past few years.
The senior citizen convention is in full flow with Tom Watson momentarily atop of the leaderboard before Freddie Couples produced a wondrous round to position himself ahead of his much younger - some young enough to be his son - contemporaries.
The European quest for a Green Jacket has proved fruitless in the last decade. Perhaps the European's may never get a better opportunity than the one that befalls them in 2010. With Lee Westwood in tied second place, Ian Poulter one back and former champ Sandy Lyle one further back.
And then there's Tiger.
Tiger Tiger burning bright. He sure was yesterday, bright enough to be seen from space. Wrongly ruled out by the majority of those in the know, he proved yesterday that with his capacity for obstacle negotiation and his ability to conjure something from nothing he can never be discounted. The era of atonement is in full swing.
Anyway, we shall provide updates throughout the day. Including leaderboard changes, scores and updates individuals featuring atop the leaderboard and the occasional momentary pause and thought.
Oh and you will notice the photo carries the picture of the current leader Freddie Couples, we will endear to ensure that whenever the leadership changes it will be reflected in the photo.