Masters Semi Live Blog — Friday

8:30 pm

Jordan really put together a great round today.  You know, if not for that 9 yesterday, well, he’d be our leader.  Rory could easily have been two better today.  I don’t mean, if this had happened or that had happened, etc.  I mean, if his ball hadn’t hit the stick on No. 18, he would definitely be one shot better, and the ball might had stopped kick-in close.  That was painful.  Freddie sure put on a show today.  I thought he holed his approach on the last hole.  It looked like a putt that missed by an inch.  Mickelson pulled a Bubba yesterday with horrendous chips/approach putts, then made improbable putts to save pars.  Too many highlights to list.

I don’t know for sure, but I think I’ve said this in past years: Rory needs to find a solid strategy for No. 1.  He can’t afford to keep making five there.  He should ask Jack, dammit.  If an interviewer talks to Jack this weekend, he needs to ask him about Rory and No. 1.

5:45 pm

I can’t remember the last Masters I enjoyed this much.  Jordan struggling a bit (he is still on the course), and Rory got rooked by the Fates on his closing hole, but both are still in the picture.  Fowler and Sergio currently tied for the top slot with Hoffman and Pieters. McGirt, Couples, Mickelson, and Rose two back of them.  Have you heard of any of those guys?  Larry Mize made his second straight cut.

The coverage is simply spectacular.  None of the idiotic attempts at jokes, and — it seems to me — far, far less of the funereal tone we’ve seen in the past. Shot after shot, putt after putt, nonstop action.  Here’s one takeaway: Lessen the number of commercials, and the director/producer can do a vastly better job with a golf broadcast.

2:50 pm

Rory heading to No. 15, which means his next two holes will be on masters.com live video.  Or you can wait fifteen minutes for ESPN coverage.  (Though you know they’ll waste five or ten minutes with “openings” and “getting you up to date.”  I’d opt for masters.com.)

10:45 am

Nice bonus birdie for Sergio on No. 1.  Few will duplicate that one.  With a par-five next, Sergio is off to a great start.  Rory in the trees on his first tee shot.  Come on, Rory.  You need to salvage the par.

Realistically, is Rory already leading this thing?

My thinking is this:  Guys with low ball flight are excelling in the windy conditions.  That’s quite logical.  Where the conditions expected to remain, those guys would remain the likely contenders.  However, the conditions on the weekend will see low wins, but with drier, slicker greens, making it harder for a low-ball-flight golfer to keep the ball on the greens.  Rory, on the other hand, has a high ball flight, which will be helpful for the weekend conditions.  Rory doing okay yesterday in the wind was more impressive that it might appear.

If Rory can put together a good round today, I will consider him the leader — even if a low-ball-flight player has a six-stroke lead.

Morning Line

I think the reason was Nick Faldo (and Nantz).  It dawned on me overnight that coverage switched from NBC to CBS this week, and that that is the reason yesterday’s broadcast seemed so spectacular.  Well, that and the limited commercials.  Whatever the case, I enjoyed the broadcast vastly more than any other broadcast in recent memory.

Another factor: the conditions made for compelling viewing.

The media always makes big deals out of coincidental “stats” that are so often simple noise.  If you look at a limited set of data for long enough, you will find a pattern.  A famous example: Rory always shoots a bad round on Friday.  That happened a few times in a row — mere chance — but the golf media insisted Rory needed to do something to address his “Friday problem.”

However, I’m willing to acknowledge — perhaps, incorrectly, that there is something to the stat that, as Justin Ray (who else!) put it:

Each of the previous 11 Masters winners were at/within 4 of the lead after the 1st round.

Okay, I still think there is much noise in that stat.  However, I think there could be something to it as well.  Things to consider:

  • The field is small, so you have fewer chances for a big move.
  • Big numbers are rarer compared to other courses.  There’s not that much water, and the rough is not really rough.
  • We need a solid benchmark of data from other tournaments to see if the stat is really so odd.
  • The field stays packed tighter.
  • The main defense is the greens.  A series of three-putts takes longer to ruin a tournament than does, say, the Pacific Ocean or six-inch rough.
  • The course isn’t conducive to break-away scores.  Charley Hoffman’s break from the field yesterday was a major outlier.

I don’t know what it is, if anything.  I don’t even know if the suppositions I made above are accurate.  I suppose I still think the stat is largely noise, but I’m willing to entertain the idea that there is something about Augusta that has caused this pattern to surface.  I won’t label it a stupidstic, not just yet.

I find Morning Drive fairly watchable this week.  There’s something about showing the course when it’s still dark and lights are on in the equipment shed (probably staged and prerecorded, but still it adds atmosphere).  Also, the Masters is a big enough event to keep the content away from the constant shilling and filler MD normally shovels out.  (Although, as I type, one of the Ginella “This Should Be Labeled  a Paid Advertisement” segments is being shown.)

It was nice to see Dufner playing well.

Top old guy?  Okay, Els and Mickelson are too young to be an “old guy” just yet.  Couples?  Hard to think of him as old, too.  Let me keep going…  I guess we’ll go with Larry Mize.  No, he’s 58, I want at least 60.  Langer?  Nope.  He’s 59, but ageless.  I’m still going…  Woosnam?  58.  Sandy Lyle is 58.  Do they boot them out at age 60 or something?  Seems like there used to be quite a few old guys playing and one of them would put a round together.  Or maybe I’m so old that none of these guys strike me as old anymore.  That’s a scary thought, but probably true.

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5 Responses to Masters Semi Live Blog — Friday

  1. Kris says:

    4-way tie for the lead going into the weekend with several big names with a good shot to win. This has been a fun Masters so far. The scoring confusion with Sergio is hopefully the closest we’ll get to a rules issue this week. It’s probably a blessing that I’ll be super busy this weekend and won’t be able to watch. I don’t wanna see my boy Serg have another major meltdown and I’d probably have an aneurysm if he stays in or near the lead. In the event that he wins any major I’ll unashamedly burst into wracking sobs. I’d be happy for any first time winner or for McIlroy to get his career slam, but Sergio Garcia winning the Masters on Seve’s 60th birthday would be the greatest, most fitting story of what began as a strange week.

    • lannyh says:

      Yeah, if not Rory or Jordan, I think I’d go for Sergio to win. Shaping up to be a fun weekend.

    • lannyh says:

      Jordan, Rory, Rickie, or Sergio. And plenty of others I would not mind seeing win. Westwood, Els, Dufner — lots of potential stories. Pieters and Rahm would make first-attempt winners, a real rarity.

      • ThreeWiggleExpert says:

        My two horses are Sergio and Westwood. One of them has to win this thing!

      • lannyh says:

        The gap between Sergio and Westwood is nearly as big as the gap between Secretariat and second place at Belmont. Okay, okay, it’s only middle of the backstretch yet.

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