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Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Changeable Winds... or the Winds of Change?

Everybody expected the weather would be tough on Masters Friday, but I'm not sure anybody expected the results.

Sergio Garcia

I guess we all expected Charley Hoffman to come back to the field. Not that Charley played badly, but even he said he got a bit lucky on Thursday. He didn't get the same breaks Friday and ended up shooting 75, which was the average score of the field. Still enough to keep a piece of the lead.

The shocks began when Sergio birdied the first three holes. Birdies were virtually non-existent on #1! Then Rickie Fowler and Thomas Pieters started going low and, by the end of the day, we had a four-way tie for the lead.

I'm not sure anybody expected a 4-under lead -- at least, not unless Charley made a deal with the devil. The winds were just too strong. Will McGirt -- alone in fifth place at -2 -- chalked it up to the way the winds swirled, saying that they would often completely change direction.

In the end, only 9 players finished under par. But that group includes players as diverse as Jon Rahm and Fred Couples. And the three players at even par -- Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth -- virtually guarantee a wild weekend at Augusta.

The changeable winds of Thursday and Friday may give way to the winds of change this weekend. It's a healthy mix of veterans and fresh faces, of major winners and major possibilities. And while each of the most-likely contenders right now will garner attention, it's probably safe to say that Sergio and Rickie will be the most-watched of the bunch.

At any rate, it's shaping up to be one of the best Masters weekends we've seen in a while. Pardon the pun, but something major is likely to happen Sunday afternoon.

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