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Friday, April 8, 2016

A Few Surprises

First, in case you didn't hear, Ernie Els did NOT make a 10 on the first hole. He made a 9. That means he didn't 7-putt from under 3 feet; rather, he 6-putted.

I know that's not much consolation to Ernie, but it's one less stroke he needs to make up today if he's going to make the cut at the Masters.

Ernie Els

And I certainly wouldn't write him off. After all, we got quite a few surprises on Thursday.

One of the biggest was Jordan Spieth's bogey-free 66 in 15-20mph winds. BOGEY-FREE! That simply wasn't something you would expect from anybody in those conditions, even with the Augusta greens crew setting things up a bit easier in anticipation of the wind.

Now it's not unusual for someone to shoot a ridiculously low score in tough conditions at any event; it happens all the time. But judging from comments after the round, that bogey-free round has apparently sent shivers through the field. If Jordan can merely hold it together over today and tomorrow, he may start Sunday with a pretty big lead.

Jason Day's even par round (-5 on the front, +5 on the back) was a bit of a shocker. Rory's 70 may have disappointed him a bit since he lost two shots on the last three holes, but he's in the best shape of the Fab4 to catch Jordan.

Of the other players who were talked about before the Masters started, only Justin Rose showed well with a 69. (Note that I said "were talked about". Players like Paul Casey, Ian Poulter and Sergio have proven they can play well at Augusta, whether anybody talks about them or not!)

My "5 to Watch" picks didn't fair all that well:
  • Adam Scott (my pick to win), +4
  • Rickie Fowler, +8 (at least I did mention his need to avoid big numbers, which he didn't)
  • Phil Mickelson, E
  • Louis Oosthuizen, E
  • Dustin Johnson, +1
Depending on how bad the weather gets today, all but Fowler have a reasonable chance to make the cut... but perhaps not as good a chance to win. (Bear in mind that Rickie is tied with Ernie. Both men have their work cut out for them.)

Perhaps not surprisingly, the best scores of the day came from players no one was talking about -- Danny Lee and Shane Lowry, both with 68. And 8 of the Top12 (several are tied for ninth at -2) are European, which may also be a function of the wind. This Masters may be the best chance for a European to win since José María Olazábal won in 1999. (Wow, has it really been that long?)

Of course, it all hinges on what the 'struggling' Jordan Spieth does over the next three rounds. I suspect a large cross-section of the field wishes they were struggling like him right now.

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