AUGUSTA, Ga. — Two days after rain delayed the Masters and softened the course at Augusta Nationwide Golf Membership, the event will enter its penultimate spherical round 10:30 a.m. Japanese on Saturday.
Tiger Woods, the defending champion, is looking for his sixth victory at Augusta. Different former winners, together with Danny Willett and Phil Mickelson, will play their rounds with viable hopes of contending via the weekend.
And the climate in Augusta is meant to be about pretty much as good as any golfer might hope for: sunny, with a excessive of round 70.
The youngsters are all proper.
Lookup and down the chief board, and you will note names you could have lengthy identified, beloved and/or reviled: Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods.
However the event’s prime ranks embrace loads of gamers making their inaugural appearances on the Masters, together with Abraham Ancer, who’s 29 years outdated and tied for first at 9 beneath par. Sungjae Im, 22, is at 8 beneath. Sebastián Muñoz will flip 28 in January, however will enter the third spherical at 6 beneath.
Ancer, whose framed Masters invitation hangs in his front room, first performed Augusta Nationwide final week and located among the terrain more difficult than it had appeared on tv. He performed 27 holes that day — good observe, it turned out, for Friday, when he needed to go 25 after Thursday’s rain delay.
“I didn’t need to get right here for the primary time ever this week and being like, , actually excited,” stated Ancer, who shares the lead with Johnson, Thomas, Jon Rahm and Cameron Smith. “I wished to really feel like I used to be right here and I’ve been right here earlier than and it was extra regular.”
Historical past doesn’t give first-time Masters gamers nice odds of successful: It has occurred 3 times, together with on the first and second tournaments. The one participant to handle the feat after 1935 was Fuzzy Zoeller, who received in 1979.
Bernhard Langer, 63, turns into the oldest golfer to make the Masters lower.
Let’s discuss Bernhard Langer.
He has received the Masters twice. He stands at 3-under par, the identical as Rory McIlroy and much better than pre-tournament favourite Bryson DeChambeau. He has been happy together with his drives.
And, sure, he performed a lot of his greatest golf in the course of the Reagan administration, when he received his first Masters title and contended on the U.S. Open and the Open Championship. Now, Langer, 63, is the oldest man to make the lower on the Masters, narrowly seizing the document from Tommy Aaron, the 1973 champion. (Former Masters winners have lifetime entry into the event.)
“My knees are shot proper now,” Langer stated on Friday, when he needed to end his rain-delayed first spherical and play his second. “My spouse simply stated, ‘You’re not going to hit balls, are you?’ I stated, ‘No, no probability. I’m finished.’”
Langer, although, is among the standard-setters for youthful golfers who marvel what their careers may appear like in a decade or two or three. Simply on Thursday, Tiger Woods talked about Langer as one of many sport’s elders who can nonetheless discover methods to remain within the combine at Augusta Nationwide.
“So understanding how you can play it’s a massive issue, and it’s one of many the reason why early in my profession that I noticed Jack contending so much, I noticed Raymond contending late in his profession, now Bernhard and Freddy all the time contend right here late of their careers,” Woods stated. “Simply understanding how you can play this golf course was an enormous a part of it.”
Langer is decidedly not taking part in Augusta in the way in which of DeChambeau, whose towering drives almost drove him out of the event. The course, Langer stated, hardly makes him really feel youthful.
“It truly makes me really feel older after I play with these younger guys and I see how far they hit it and the way quick I hit it,” Langer, whose drives within the first two rounds averaged 264 yards. (DeChambeau, 27, has been going about 328, whereas Phil Mickelson, 50, has averaged almost 299.)
“I like this golf course,” Langer stated. “I feel I understand how to get round it, though I hit very lengthy golf equipment. But it surely’s actually not simple.”
Instructed Friday that he was a digital lock to make the lower and take Aaron’s document, Langer replied, “How about that? I’ll drink to that.”
He was planning a Shandy.
Gamers are determining No. 5.
No gap gave gamers extra hassle in 2019 than the one christened Magnolia, which Augusta Nationwide had lengthened by 40 yards. This yr, the lads pursuing a inexperienced jacket are proving much better at fixing No. 5.
There have been 103 bogeys on the opening final yr — 4 of them by Tiger Woods, who received the event anyway — and 6 double bogeys. The outlet surrendered simply 13 birdies over the event, when no different on the course gave away fewer than 20.
By means of the primary two rounds this week, the sector, aided by expertise and course circumstances, managed 12 birdies, 44 bogeys and one double bogey.
“With that prime tier being so much softer this yr, coming in right here from a bit of bit additional again, having the ability to maintain it in that again part makes that inexperienced play a hell of so much larger.,” stated Danny Willett, who received the Masters in 2016 and bogeyed No. 5 twice final yr earlier than lacking the lower.
This yr, Willett, who’s at 7 beneath, made par there the primary two rounds.
“Normally you’re coming in there making an attempt to only pitch it over that downslope after which hope that it stays wanting the again bunker,” he stated on Friday, “however with it being softer this yr, your solely actual dangerous miss there may be quick the place it’s going to be a tough putt up and over.”