Very, very interesting two days of golf are in the books for the 2017 Masters. From my perspective the first of the story lines is the weather and the Masters competition committee. With the forecast of 20+mph winds and gust to 40+, the committee had a very daunting task in setting up the course. The biggest challenge, as I saw it, was to to create a competitive environment that was stern but fair. The “fair” part was the challenge. With the speed and undulations of the greens the tournament could have easily gotten away from them if they used certain pin placements. It would have been impossible to have stopped certain putts or chips on the green and the tournament could have turned into a miniature golf event. There were a couple “sporty” pins but I thought the committee did an outstanding job of setting the tee and pin placements.
Because of the committees expertise, we have a fabulous tournament on our hands!! The leaderboard is filled with stars and future stars. I would say anyone within 7 strokes will have a chance to contend on the back nine on Sunday. You have to expect some of the leaders to play well, a few to come out of the pack with great rounds today and of course, there will be a few disasters. There always are and always will be, it’s the nature of the course. I’ve never seen a course where “one yard” can lead to either agony or ecstasy. With the wind blowing and swirling – it is not in the players hands after the ball leaves the club face. It’s up to the gods to figure out the balls fate. This unpredictability is what separates this majors from others. Luck DOES play a part in the outcome, just as it can in the game of life. How one deals with this uncertainty is part of the “test”. The ones that handle it the best will have an opportunity Sunday to don the Green Jacket.
Today’s forecast calls for warmer temperatures and calmer conditions. I will be interested to see how the course is set up. I hope they bring out the tough pin placements, firm up and speed up the greens and bring in different forms of course management than the first two rounds. It was survival Thursday and Friday. Should be a terrific third round, the roars will be resonating through the pines!
Now for the players! How bout Charley Hoffman’s first round?!! It will go down as one of the great single rounds in golf history. To put it in perspective, it was 10 strokes lower than the average round that day. Hopefully some stat geek will research this and see where it stands in major golf history. I will not put it in one of the “greatest feats ever” because I think that last rounds to win majors would take precedent more than a first round. Having said that, and being out on the course Thursday, you COULD NOT shoot 65!! Fantastic, phenomenal or whatever you want to call it!
As expected, the course took something back on Friday and gave to some others and now we have a 4 way tie and many great players in the mix. My pick this week was Rory and my dark horse was Sergio so I still have some rooting interest. After a poor start on Thursday, Rory has hung in there very well and will be interested to see if he puts on a little charge today. Lots of players and coaches have been touting young Thomas Pieters as a rising star and I suspect he will be right there at the end. Sergio seems more “at peace” with himself these days, an incredible talent but will be watching to see how his putting holds up. Hoffman is a good ball striker and seems unflappable and was in last group in 2015, so he knows what that “feels” like. Then there is Ricky! A real fan favorite, for good reasons, he treats everyone wonderfully. I can’t imagine how his popularity would grow with a Masters win! Butch (his coach) told me at the start of the season that this would be a critical year for him. Butch felt that Ricky had to make golf his #1 priority and for his accomplishments to match his popularity. He has already won this year and is playing well, he’s my pick on the weekend.
We can’t forget Phil, Adam, Jordan, Freddy and Rahm. Wow! What a leaderboard huh! Can’t wait for today to start!
Very proud of Bill Haas this week. Other than the back nine on Thursday (40) he’s played well but more importantly, hung tough when things weren’t going well. He was 6 over going to 12 yesterday and played the last 7 holes in three under par, not only to make the cut but put himself in a position where a good round will do wonders! Jay has been mentoring him all week on the range and I just love seeing the “father and son” working together. At the Masters the player is only allowed one person to be with him on the range and I’m MUCH more comfortable having that person being his dad. It’s such a natural fit and Jay is the primary reason Bill has had the success he’s had. Jay told me most of what they have been working on is attitude and “how to play” stuff. Very little swing work. His dad had quite a bit of success at Augusta National and is an invaluable resource to Bill on all levels. It warms my heart to see the two of them on the range together, a perfect fit!
Looking forward to the weekend at the Masters! Should be outstanding theater!