Highlight of the day
It might seem a bit churlish but Jordan Spieth’s closing six has made Sunday a lot more appetising. All of a sudden those on plus one, like Lee Westwood, will be quietly eyeing up a closing 67 instead of a 65.
At six under and four clear with two holes to play a second Green Jacket in successive years looked not quite a shoo-in but an odds-on bet. Now, with the nature of those two flailing pair of drives, it looks very open once more.
Or we might be kidding ourselves and Spieth grinds them all into the dirt within the first 12 holes.
Any time you hole a putt on the 14th green you’ve done well. When you do so from 69 feet you’ve produced some sort of mini miracle.
Jason Day, the pre-tournament favourite and World No 1, was looking at, more or less, a certain three putts but knocked it in. Better still his playing partner Bernhard Langer chipped in. Day will start Sunday three back.
— Masters Tournament (@TheMasters) April 9, 2016
Rory’s approach to the 11th was asking too much and the water and double-bogey six shoved him down the leaderboard. It made matters worse when it coincided with playing partner Spieth doing likewise.
Not that McIlroy had any momentum coming to the back-nine par 5s but this knocked the stuffing out of him.
Of course it’s easy to put the boot in but if that was Spieth you wonder how differently he would have played it.
Very slowly but surely some of golf’s silliest rules are being written out, replaced by a more common sense approach.
Some, though, persist and Billy Horschel was the unfortunate player as his ball on the 15th green caught a big gust of wind and blew into the water. Fair enough if he was walking up to the green only to see his ball trickle off the green but Horschel had marked his ball and was preparing for his birdie putt from 13 feet.
As it was he had to drop to the side of the green and took six. And took his punishment very well.
“I was hoping the ball would stop so I could put my coin back on it. I knew that once the ball rolls, once it’s in play, if it starts rolling, you have to play it from where it finishes and obviously I didn’t have my scuba gear to play it from the water. They wanted to get the course on a fine line and it’s been, it’s on a fine line today, but it’s fair.”
Billy Horschel’s ball rolls off the green and into the water on 15. pic.twitter.com/RxOyVyc1q2
— Adam Sarson (@Adam_Sarson) April 9, 2016
We are surprised by
We continue to be surprised by quite how scrappy Jordan Spieth can play and then the total score at the end of the 18 holes. He somehow reached the turn in one under and you would be hard pressed to pick out too many highlights. But the clutch putts continue to drop in at the perfect pace and then he pounces whenever there’s an opportunity.
And then, when he starts to find more fairways and greens, he turns it into a run of birdies. One great shot a hole, more often than not, goes a long way.
We are not surprised by
Bernhard Langer. When he turned pro in 1972 none of the leaderboard were even born yet the 58-year-old shows no signs of slowing down. He has even found a way round the anchoring ban.
At some point the penny might drop quite how brilliant, and resilient, Langer is. On the Champions Tour this year he has won once in five starts with a worst finish of 10th and an accumulative total of 55 under.
Langer was 8th two years ago and contends that a 50-plus player is capable of winning a Major. He’s in the penultimate group at two shots back.
Anirban Lahiri. Sometimes a picture says it all…
As much for a change the BBC got the nod though that will probably change for Sunday. There’s a more relaxed air to things with Aunty but, for insight, they can’t touch Sky.
There were a couple of highlights though. 1) Peter Alliss revealing that Clive ‘How’s it lying?’ Clark holed in one with a 2-iron in the 1968 Masters and 2) the sight of Ken Brown hoisting a flag to demonstrate the wind on the 12th tee from a contraption that he looked to have built himself.
You wonder what the people at customs made of it.