The 2010 Masters: Top Five Questions Heading Into Saturday
Featured Columnist Andy Reistetter is on site this week at The Masters at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga.
Here are the Top Five Questions Heading into Saturday at The Masters.
1. Are the English coming, are the English coming again?
Wasn't it yesterday we had an all-English final of Ian Poulter and Paul Casey at the WGC-Accenture Match Play?
Now major-focused Lee Westwood and Poulter are atop the leader board at the midpoint of the 74th Masters Tournament.
Westwood has tied for second at the last two majors: the Open at Turnberry and the PGA at Hazeltine.
Even after a double bogey at the 14th hole, he made a gutsy decision to go for the par-5 15th in two. He held the green and two-putted for a bounce-back birdie. A bogey on the last hole meant a tie for first place with Poulter.
The soon to be 38-year old has won once on the PGA TOUR way back in 1998.
Though he won the "Race to Dubai" last year on the European Tour, it is too close to make the call on whether he will cross the finish line in first place at Augusta National come Sunday afternoon.
Poulter, though four years younger, is on a similar track though with more recent fire in the belly.
After finishing second in the Open at Royal Birkdale in 2008, Poulter broke through with his first win in America when he beat Casey in the final match of the WGC-Accenture.
Yes, there definitely is an English Invasion occurring on the PGA TOUR.
2. Will it be Phil and Tiger down the stretch on Sunday afternoon at Augusta this time with one of them winning The Masters?
Both Phil and Tiger started this Masters where they left off last year: with Phil shooting 67 to Tiger's 68 in the first round.
Now they are tied for second place, two strokes back with Anthony Kim, Ricky Barnes, and K.J. Choi.
The Masters utilize the similar pairing guideline as the PGA TOUR namely "first in, last out."
Woods and Choi played together one group ahead of Barnes and many groups ahead of Kim and Mickelson, so they will be the next to last group out on Saturday afternoon.
If Tiger and Phil play well, they may very well be in the final group on Sunday afternoon.
Wouldn't that be something?
3. Realistically, how many players can still win The Masters?
Pretty much the seven golfers mentioned above plus the Tiger slayer from last year's PGA Championship. Y.E. Yang is three strokes behind Poulter/Westwood and one behind the fivesome in second place.
4. What happened to the old guys?
First-round leader Fred Couples changed his Ecco tennis shoes to golf shoes due to an earlier tee time and some overnight rain.
He was fighting to hold the line but finished with three straight pars.
Watson, the darling of the 2009 Open at Turnberry fought off bogeys with birdies when he could, but he ended up shooting 74.
Both are at 3-under and five strokes back.
Bernhard Langer ballooned to a 78, while Sandy Lyle went even higher and shot 86.
Both missed the cut.
What will happen to the old guys?
With the field was cut to 48 players at 3-over par or better, they will be able to sleep in and rest up before their afternoon tee times.
Who knows? Look what Jack Nicklaus did on the back nine in 1986.
5. Is this the kinder, gentler Augusta National or Tiger Woods?
The National, as the locals call it played one stroke more difficult on Friday vs. Thursday.
Thursday had some wind and light rain but easy hole locations.
On Friday the wind changed to out of the northwest, making the course play its toughest, with the reachable par-5 13th and 15th into the wind and no longer reachable for most of the field.
Chairman Billy Payne has been quite open about returning The Masters to an exciting eagle-laden golf-fest, especially on Sunday afternoon.
But isn't rough, a.k.a. the "second cut" at Augusta National on the bank at the 15th going a little bit too far?
Any patron can see keeping the balls out of the woods, but out of the water too?
In the first two rounds since returning to the game of golf, Tiger Woods has been true to his words of being more respectful to the game of golf.
Okay so he did not play in the Wednesday par-3 family-based contest but we have not seen one fist pump or heard one expletive in two days of heated competition.
Look for the golf course to continue to be friendlier.
Look for Tiger Woods to dismantle it in a respectable manner and win this Masters walking away very fast, as there is no running allowed on the grounds of Augusta National.
Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer. He follows the PGA TOUR volunteering and working part time for CBS Sports, NBC Sports, and The Golf Channel.
He resides in Jacksonville Beach, Fla., near the PGA TOUR headquarters and home of The PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.
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