If you're wondering why Rory McIlroy isn't getting it done in the majors, this is it. And the golfing gods get their own back on Bryson DeChambeau. Alex Perry wraps up day two from Augusta
Are you keeping up? It’s hard to keep up, isn’t it? And that’s just with Rory McIlroy’s Augusta antics. But before we get to that, a quick recap on what’s going on.
Day two of the postponed, patron-free 2020 Masters is over, but round two is not. Abraham Ancer (0 PGA Tour wins) and Cameron Smith (two PGA Tour wins) are tied at the top at 9-under-par, where they are joined by Dustin Johnson (23 PGA Tour wins) and Justin Thomas (13 PGA Tour wins).
Patrick Cantlay and and Sungjae Im are one back and in the clubhouse, while Jon Rahm and Hideki Matsuyama are also on 8-under with six and three holes left respectively.
Then an English trio of Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose and 2016 Danny Willett lead the British charge at 7-under.
Don’t take your eyes off this one.
So what happened with Rory?
What didn’t happen? On Thursday I asked this the Twitter world this question:
McIlroy was comfortably the most popular answer. (I will count them all, just not now because it’s 11pm on Friday night and I’ve had a couple of delicious Estonian pale ales.
The four-time major champion managed nine holes on Thursday and began his second day exactly how he began his first – with a bogey. Further dropped shots at 12, 13 and 16 saw him finish with a 3-over 75.
But then something clicked. He opened his second round, which he started barely minutes after walking off 18, with birdie at the 10th, and picked up five more for a bogey-free 6-under 66.
Now players card massively differing scores from one day to the next all the time. But McIlroy went from having dropped four shots in nine holes to playing an entire round where it seemed plausible he’d never have another bogey in his career – all in the space of a few hours. It’s exhausting being in the Rory McIlroy Fan Club. And I didn’t even get a badge.
Of course this will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention. Rory’s had first-round jitters since his last major win at the 2014 PGA Championship. (Apropos of not much at all I was thinking about what my life was like when Rory won that last major. It was around the same time the bottle opener came out.)
But of course what is anecdotal to us is oxygen to the stats gurus – and there are none better than 15th Club’s Justin Ray, who spelled out the absurdity of McIlroy’s opening-day jitters…
How can so few words be so utterly devastating?
The likelihood is he’ll need two more 66s if he wants that Green Jacket, but he’s given himself a shot and we’ll be cheering him on every step of the way. Badge or no badge.
Tiger Woods was level par for the second round when bad light stopped play. But look at this ridiculous shot to set up birdie at the 2nd…
Anything within 15 feet is good there, the commentary team reminded us, and he’s half a revolution from holing it.
Unfortunately the defending champion did this at the next hole:
Meanwhile Bryson DeChambeau doesn’t look like he’ll be wearing a Green Jacket on Sunday.
The US Open champion enraged the golfing gods earlier in the week by claiming he’d be playing Augusta as a par 67 instead of 72 – and that included playing the short par-4 3rd as a par 3.
So of course it was here in which his tournament unravelled on Friday.
After missing the green with his drive, his ball plugged in some rough near the green. A search party that included playing partners Jon Rahm and Louis Oosthuizen and all three caddies couldn’t find it in the allotted three minutes.
So it was back to the tee for DeChambeau and a triple/quadruple bogey seven that saw his chances of getting back into contention vanish.
What’s worse, though, is someone actually found the ball while DeChambeau was being ferried away.
Let this be a lesson to all of us.
And the ugly
I’m going back to scripting on this one.
First of all, I’m generally a huge fan of anything with the Swoosh on it, but whoever it was at Nike that signed off the brown colour scheme for their players at Augusta needs to start thinking about their next career move.
Speaking of horrific decisions by Nike, there was also some confusion over Paul Casey’s shirt. Remember what he wore on day one? Well he was spotted in the same shirt but a different colour ahead of teeing off on Friday…
…only to appear on the 1st tee in this perfectly acceptable number:
And I don’t want to feel like I’m ragging on Hideki Matsuyama again, but dude looked like he’s trying to get a part-time job selling ice cream…
I’m panicking about what he’s got planned for Sunday. Especially if he’s in contention.
Shot of the day
If you can’t work a little magic around Augusta then you haven’t got any hope of pulling on that Green Jacket.
Check this out from JT…
He’d be a very popular winner, wouldn’t he?
That feels like a good place to end it. Same time tomorrow? See you then.