2011 Masters Leaderboard: Tiger Woods, KJ Choi Trail Less Experienced Rory McIlroy, Jason Day
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The age-old question of "does experience or talent win golf tournaments?" has developed at the 2011 Masters.
The 21-year-old Rory McIlroy made only one bogey en route to leading the Masters at 10-under-par Friday. Jason Day, 23, set the Masters' second-round scoring record with an eight-under-par 64 and will join McIlroy in the last group Saturday afternoon.
The veterans, Tiger Woods, 35, and KJ Choi, 40, have both been ranked in the top 10 of world golf rankings and trail McIlroy by only three.
Far as experience, while Choi has never won a major, he has finished in the top 10 six times on the PGA Tour. Woods, well, won more majors than all three of the aforementioned golfers' PGA Tour victories.
The stage is set, and all eyes will be glued to Woods as if it was 2008. But I believe McIlroy and Day will not only outplay both veterans going into the weekend, but it's more likely a winner of the 2011 Masters will come from the youngsters.
McIlroy got off to a great start at the 2010 British Open, but quickly faded away to oblivion. Because of that high and low, I believe the Irishman has been able to keep an even keel at Augusta National. McIlroy's lone bogey was followed by a birdie, too.
Day, on the other hand, showed some opening jitters, bogeying two out of his first five holes and double bogeying No. 11. His talent showed through from 13 to 16 Thursday, though, as he birdied four straight.
Not only that, it's hard to ignore Day's nine total birdies on the back nine through two rounds.
The youngsters have shown impressive poise, while the veterans have made some rookie mistakes.
Woods seemed like the player who won the U.S. Open in 2008 Friday rather than the one that shot in the 80s and has missed cuts.
But that was Friday, maybe one of the only rounds he played in 2011 that showed flashes of the 14-time major winner.
Also, Woods had a great Saturday last year at the U.S. Open, but quickly returned to his struggling self the next day.
He has changed equipment, coaches and everything else in between. Woods's lack of consistency worries me, not because it'll crack under pressure but crack because of unfamiliarity.
Choi, on the other hand, has never shown the fiery passion like the other three. He is almost too even-keel with his emotions and seems to lack, pardon the cliche, a Tiger-like instinct.
After birdieing six to take the lead at eight-under Friday, Choi finished one-over-par in the last 12. If he gets the lead again, I don't think Choi would have the same Tiger-like determination to win the Masters.
That being said, I give a slight edge to the youngsters over the veterans because of the circumstances. Woods has lots of moving parts that have not settled in, and Choi seems to lack whatever that killer-instinct intangible is.
Which group will finish higher in the standings in the 2011 Masters?
Despite giving Choi and Y.E. Yang a great chance to win Friday morning, watching McIlroy and Day feed off each other and not make mental mistakes proved to me that they can handle this stage.
And thrive in it.
Give the raw talent more credit going into the weekend. Remember, all the knowledge and experience in the world cannot make clutch birdies.
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