Friday At The Masters: Scheffler Takes A Five Stroke Lead
World No. 1 seizes on better half of the draw to tie 36-hole record for largest lead. Tiger salvages his round, Cink makes ace and Charl Schwartzel saw this coming.
Expecting to take in afternoon of wind-induced carnage, I floated between the key vantage points at Amen Corner only to watch as a zephyr developed for the final groups. Sorry late-early golfers. Better luck next year.
A few observations and then a word on Scottie Scheffler’s record-tying five-stroke 36-hole lead.
Augusta National may be the only courses that becomes more beautiful with spectators, scoreboards and the tournament signage. Everywhere you turn, the clean lines, bright color palette, simple scoreboards and stark yellow flagsticks could be a tournament poster.
Cliché alert: after chatting and eavesdropping, I’m always blown away at how the patrons of all ages here ooze knowledge and respect for the players. This coming from chatting with some nice young fellows with some eavesdropping thrown in. The many moronic editors and publishers prone to dumb down golf coverage any chance they get—and lurking dangerously in the press center this week—would be well-served leaving the Big Oak to sit in the grandstands and learn how thirsty fans are for smarter coverage.
Cup hoarding. The site of grandstands clearing out at 5:30 without fail—even with the world No. 1 coming to the world’s greatest par-5—is confounding knowing the effort necessary to get a seat. But the post-pandemic hoarding of Masters-logoed beer and soda cups appears more robust than ever. So many options, too. You’ve got clear plastic, green plastic and the Crow’s Nest green. And I suppose it’s better picking up the left-behinds in a grandstand than digging through the trash bags. Still, I saw collections running 30 and 40 deep heading out the gates. I feel good about my collection of four heading into the weekend. Though you know what they say, the Masters does not begin until the back nine Sunday.
Scottie Scheffler arrived at the 13th hole under mostly gray skies and no wind. After a perfect drive, a 232-yard hybrid went right and missed the tributary of Rae’s Creek. His ball finished just past pin high and bounced off the buns of a seated photographer (whose rump stopped an earlier ball from finishing under azaleas). Scheffler made a nifty up and down to the difficult pin cut 36 paces back and “5” from the left collar.
“On 13 there was some mud under my ball, and I flushed it, and it flew like 40 yards right, and I got a good break over there,” Scheffler said. “You know, I guess a good and a bad break, mud under the ball is not necessarily a good break, but it happens around this golf course. And it was fortunate to stay up, and I took advantage of the good break.”
The 25-year-old would go on to birdie the 15th and 16th holes for a 67. After a bogey-birdie-birdie start, Scheffler played his last fifteen holes in 6-under-par for a five stroke lead.
As a reminder, 27 of the last 30 Masters winners were at or within 4 shots of the lead through 36 holes. Scheffler will be tough to be if he remains so level-headed.
“One of my goals coming into today with the way the wind was, Teddy [Scott, caddies] and I talked about it, we are just going to try to play this golf course like Bernhard Langer does and just kind of plot your way around,” Scheffler said. “The guy seems to play good every year, and he is -- I don't know how old he is now, he's not young, he's definitely one of the older guys in the field here, and he continues to beat people around this golf course.”
Scheffler tees off a 2:50 p.m. Saturday with 2011 Masters Champion Charl Schwartzel.
Low round: 67 Scheffler and Justin Thomas
High round: 85 by Laird Shepherd (a).
5-stroke lead: Scheffler ties the 36-hole record lead size held by Jordan Spieth (2015) Raymond Floyd (1976), Jack Nicklaus (1975) Herman Keiser (1946)
74.606: Round 2 scoring average
148: cutline (+4, 52 players)
22 times in-a-row: Tiger Woods has made the cut. The record of 23 is held by Fred Couples and Gary Player.
0: Amateurs to make the cut
Saturday’s Official Forecast: “Partly cloudy and chilly, becoming mostly cloudy and blustery in the afternoon. Slight chance for a brief shower.” High of 59F though the forecaster says we’ll be “struggling to warm into the upper 50s during the afternoon.”