04.06.17 | Kevin W.
Thursday and Friday are in the books at the 81st Masters. So what did we learn from these cold and windy days at Augusta National? Well, the start on Thursday as predicted was an emotional one. Gary and Jack were joined on the tee by Arnie's widow Kit. The first drive ceremony also garnered far more interest from the players this year than in the past. It was attended by Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, and others. Gary Player hit his drive first and it found the middle of the fairway, Jack put his drive about five yards past Player's ball. Both hit good and solid shots after the touching moment of silence.
The rains that disrupted the Par-3 contest on Wednesday were long gone by Thursday morning, but they were replaced by strong winds and unseasonable temperatures. The challenging conditions allowed only twenty-two players to break par. The winds were so bad that not only were they having effects on ball flights, but they also cost players strokes on the greens. It turned an "easy" four-footer or so on for par eleven for Jason Day into a putt in the eight-ten foot range, he was able to sink it anyways though. That was not the last of his troubles though as he was the last player to make the cut and will be playing with a marker today.
The star of the Thursday was clearly Charley Hoffman who dominated while everyone else seemed lost. His previous best finish at Augusta came in 2015 at T-9. That was also his only top ten finish in any major. A graduate of UNLV he is used to playing in windy conditions. He is an unlikely leader at age 40 with only four wins on tour, the most recent came back in April 2016 at the Texas Open. He sadly though is not rocking the flow that he used to be known for. His round of 65 sent him into Friday with a four-stroke lead on William McGirt who had a 69.
As everyone is now well aware of Dustin Johnson was unable to tee off Thursday because he "fell down the stairs" at his rental house in Augusta. Though some of us here a The Guys Who Mow do not believe that story is the truth.
The winds calmed down a little for Friday's round, but the biggest change was in temperature, a lot more player shedded the pullovers on Friday and looked more comfortable on the course. The winds of the past day had clearly dried out the greens from the soaking that they got on Wednesday and conditions were the normal Masters fast.
Hoffman was much less dominate on Friday shooting a +3 seventy-five, though he still remains atop the leaderboard. Hoffman is now joined at -4 with Sergio Garcia, Thomas Pieters, and Rickie Fowler all have never won a major. This is Sergio's 73 major start and his 18th Masters start. His best finish at Augusta was 4th place back in 2004. Fowler is also in the best to never win a major conversation having 28 total major starts with six of those coming at Augusta he has never finished better than 5th place. Friday was also his 100th round in a major and it was the only time he has ever held a share of the lead.
The Leaders + Odds
Charley Hoffman | -4 | 3:00 | 18/1 | This is by far and wide his best shot to win a major.
Sergio Garcia | -4 | 3:00 | 6/1 | Not a safe bet, he is almost certain to collapse this weekend.
Thomas Pieters | -4 | 2:50 | 9/1 | It is not his time yet.
Rickie Fowler | -4 | 2:50 | 4/1 | Maybe the "superstar" will finally get a win.
McGirt | -2 | 2:40 | 40/1
Moore | -1 | 2:40 | 30/1
Rahm | -1 | 2:30 | 14/1
Couples | -1 | 2:30 | 50/1 | 1992
Rose | -1 | 2:20 | 11/1
Scott | E | 2:20 | 22/1
Spieth | E | 2:10 | 13/2 | 2015
Mickelson | E | 2:10 | 20/1 | 2004, 2006, 2010
An interesting note for the Rahm and Couples pairing is that Rahm was born in 1994, two years after Couples victory at Augusta National.
Danny Willett -- The defending champion missed the cut by one stroke at +7.
Jim Furyk -- The former U.S. Open champion also missed at +7 after recording a +6 on Thursday.
Zach Johnson -- The 2007 champion went +5 and +2 for a disappointing appearance on his ten-year anniversary.
Bubba Watson -- The two-time champion (2012 & 14) finished +8. I am just glad we do not have to see that colored ball on TV this weekend.
TV Saturday | 3:00-7:00 PM | CBS
TV Sunday | 2:00-7:00 PM | CBS
Streaming Saturday | Featured Groups 10:15-7:30 PM | On the range 11:00-1:00 PM | Amen Corner 11:45-6:00 PM | Holes 15 & 16 12:30-6:30 PM
Streaming Sunday | Featured Groups 10:15-7:00 PM | On the range 11:00-1:00 PM | Amen Corner 11:45-6:00 PM | Holes 15 & 16 12:30-6:30 PM | Green Jacket Ceremony 7:00 PM
If all this golf has you feeling hungry check out our blog on The Food of Augusta.