Round 2 Review: The Masters

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AUGUSTA, Ga. — The wind swirled, whipped the flag, and the scores soared.

Well, except for Scottie Scheffler – and a few others.


RELATED: Full ranking | Hole-by-hole Friday recap of Tiger Woods at Augusta National | Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka among big names to miss


The second round of the 86th Masters Tournament was a matter of survival for many, a day to forget for others and a moment to break away from the pack for golf’s hottest player.

Here are the best stories from Day 2 at Augusta National.

THE LEADER

Scottie Scheffler keeps moving forward.

The new world No. 1 player and FedExCup No. 1 player, Scheffler entered this week having won three times in his last five starts. All he did on Friday was shoot 67 – tied for the best run of the day – to reach 8 under on the weekend.

That means Scheffler has a five-stroke lead over Charl Schwartzel (69), Sungjae Im (74), Shane Lowry (68) and defending champion Hideki Matsuyama (69).

Jason Day was the last player to win four times in six starts, in 2015.

STORY LINES

Gusts of wind wreak havoc: Garrick Higgo shot 83, Abraham Ancer 79 and Jordan Spieth triple-bogeyed on the 12th hole on the way to a 76. Tiger Woods looked for the direction of the swaying trees as he bogeyed four of the first five holes.

It was that type of day.

“It’s just one of those days where even ten feet is pretty tough,” said Rory McIlroy, who shot his second straight 73 to enter the weekend at 2 over par. “Because the wind is gusting and you think, is it going to affect the putt? Is not it?

“And just settle on it,” he continued. “Just one of those days in those conditions where it unsettles you a bit and puts a bit of doubt in your mind.”

McIlroy’s lap threatened to completely unravel shortly after his turn. He bogeyed the 10th hole and doubled the 11th as he came to the guessing game which is the par-3 12th.

“And ahead of us Jordan hit two in the water, so that wasn’t a great visual either,” McIlroy said. “And then Brooks hit it first and hit it straight to the green. The wind is dead.

“It’s just, it’s so up and down. I’m happy to be off the course at this point.

Harold Varner III in the running: Masters rookie Harold Varner III fired his second straight 71 and at 2 under overall he will start the weekend six times.

Only three Masters rookies have won, most recently 43 years ago, and Varner is still seeking his first PGA TOUR victory. Athlete of the Jordan brand, he said he had to give Jordan himself eight shots when they played but, as Jordan said, he would have to give 10 shots after winning.

“He obviously gave me great sponsorship, but he’s been a great friend,” said Varner, who played the par-5 second and 13th holes in a combined 5-under. “I asked him all kinds of questions, business questions, I hung out with him here and there. So that means a lot more to me.

“I think everyone just sees the logo, and they’re like that, it’s super cool,” Varner continued. “He’s the greatest athlete. But for me, just being able to pick up the phone and call him was the best part of the relationship.

Charl Schwartzel goes back in time: Charl Schwartzel called his 72-69 start “the best two shots I’ve had in a very long time.” He said he was lucky Friday morning when he played the first six holes in cold but relatively calm conditions.

As for his lackluster record elsewhere, he struggled to explain it.

“The hands were a little too active,” he said. Then, later, he added, “The mind is too active.”

Either way, it’s been a season to forget so far for 2011 Masters champion Schwartzel. An 11-time DP World Tour winner and two-time PGA TOUR winner — most recently at the 2016 Valspar Championship — Schwartzel had missed six consecutive TOUR cups when he arrived at the site of his biggest victory. He is 172nd in the Official World Golf Ranking.

As part of his preparation for this week, Schwartzel, 37, watched footage from his Masters victory 11 years ago, when he closed with four straight birdies. The goal, he said, was to give himself a hard reset, “to erase every last two weeks, the results.” So far, so good.

Bubba Watson is the author of another miracle: It would be hard to top Bubba Watson’s physics-defying corner shot that snagged around the trees and won him the 2012 Masters, but it may have happened on Friday. “I’ll be honest,” Watson said after signing for a 73. “Not that you wanted to know, but that was the best shot I ever landed at Augusta National, that one.”

The adventure began when Watson missed his practice on the tight par-4 18th hole. When he arrived at his prom, he found he was in a nest of leaves and sticks. He found a small hole in the trees and was ready to aim when a gust of wind blew another leaf over his bullet. As a rules official watched, he carefully removed the sheet so he could at least see the ball.

Then he swung as hard as he could.

“It was a 138 pitching wedge as high as I could hit it,” said Watson, who will enter the weekend at 2 over and still with an outside chance. “And somehow he got within a foot of the hole. They all said “good shot”, the guys I was playing with. I said, ‘Where did he go?’

Thinking he was destined to double the hole to finish 5 over par, which would have put him in danger of missing the cut, Watson tapped for a birdie and a total of 2 over.

“Stop it,” ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt said on air. “It’s scandalous.”

NOTABLES

JUSTIN THOMAS (67, 1 under) – After posting a deflating 76 in the first lap, rallied on one of the best laps of the day to get into the red numbers and give himself an outside chance heading into the weekend.

JON RAHM (72, 2 more) – He birdied the first two holes, but gave those shots back and will enter the weekend at 2 over. When asked what encouraged him the most so far, he replied, “That somehow I’m still not far from my head because I haven’t well done at all.”

JORDAN SPIETH (76, 6 more) – Among the pre-tournament favorites, Spieth hit two water balls on the par-3 12th hole, which sank his chances in 2016, and will miss the cut.

RORY MCILROY (73, 2 out) – Has yet to win the Masters for a career Grand Slam, and spent 2 under for his last seven holes to make the cut at 2 over.

CAMERON SMITH (74, 2 under) – After ending his first round with a double bogey, the PLAYERS champion picked up where he left off with a front nine 39. He settled on his back, but suddenly found himself six strokes behind before the weekend.

BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU (80, 12 more) – Missed a lot of time this season with hand and hip injuries, and never looked 100% healthy at this Masters.

WORTH WATCHING

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