BBC BLOGS - Rob Hodgetts
IN ASSOCIATION WITH
« Previous | Main | Next »

Masters set for Moving Day part II

Post categories:

Rob Hodgetts | 02:43 UK time, Saturday, 9 April 2011

Augusta, Georgia

Moving Day came a day early at the Masters this year.

Saturday is traditionally the day when the pack shuffles itself for the final hand.

But while overnight leader Rory McIlroy remained impervious and edged two clear, the chasing pack, like a Tour de France peloton leaving the lone breakaway out in front, massed ready for the sprint.

The two most notable moves came from opposite ends of the experience spectrum.

Australian Jason Day, a 23-year-old debutant, was inspired by playing partner McIlroy and fired a stunning 64 to climb into second.

Rory McIlroy and Jason Day reflect on a job well done as they walk off the 18th

And Augusta saw a renaissance for its old master - four-time winner Tiger Woods, who served notice that the third major swing-change of his now turbulent career may be about to bear fruit.

Woods, bidding for a 15th major title and first at Augusta since 2005, charged to a nine-birdie 66 to go into the weekend tied for third with South Korea's KJ Choi, three off the lead.

The American has carded a second-round 66 in three of his four Masters triumphs and on the 25th anniversary of Jack Nicklaus's 18th and final major title, the portents are ominous for Woods to close the gap on his countryman's record.

But that's getting ahead of ourselves.

Woods, who has slipped to seventh in the world, has shown glimpses of form this season, but only for one round of a tournament.

And it's not taking into account this new breed of young stars, who, while they might cite the former world number one's first Masters title as a 21-year-old in 1997 as their inspiration, have not come up against Woods in his pomp and are therefore untarnished.

"This is the next generation," said the 35-year-old Woods. "It's good to see these guys with that much enthusiasm and that much zest for the game. And that good."

It's not just the youngsters either. Woods was paired with Choi for all four rounds last year when they tied for fourth - the American in his first tournament back after a five-month lay-off following a sex-scandal - and will join up again on Saturday in the penultimate group.

"I've never seen a putting display like we saw last year," said Woods. "Best putting display for a 72-hole event I've seen in my life."

Defending champion Phil Mickelson is not ruling himself out from eight shots back, either, though he will have to equal the biggest 36-hole comeback, achieved by Jack Burke when he won in 1956.

The course is only going to get more difficult as higher temperatures -and the possible use of underground heating systems - speed it up and pin positions, on Saturday especially, are made considerably trickier.

And don't tell McIlroy, but only 30% of second-round leaders have gone on to win the Masters, the last being start-to-finish winner Trevor Immelman in 2008.

"There's so many guys with a chance to play themselves into the tournament," added Woods.

England's Lee Westwood shared the halfway lead with countryman Ian Poulter last year and, though he hung on to lead after the third round, he knows only too well how quickly an advantage can disappear at Augusta after Mickelson went on the rampage with an eagle-eagle-birdie run from the 13th for one of the most exciting ever Saturdays at the Masters.

Westwood, who climbed to five under after a 67 on Friday, said: "I sort of decided at the start of the day instead of Saturday being my moving day, I'd better make it Friday and try and get into contention.

"As well as Rory's has played, you don't want to get too far behind. Five is not that much, but I know better than anybody how quickly a five-shot lead can evaporate out there. On Saturday last year I was going down 11 with a five shot lead and about 45 minutes later was a shot behind.

"It's part of the value of being experienced and playing your 12th Masters and being in contention before - be very patient and expect the unexpected."

McIlroy, who Day described as "very, very mature for his age", produced an imperious display of front-running and played some glorious golf at times, holding his follow through to admire his second to the ninth for so long it looked like he had seized up.

And he weathered a mini storm, more a squall really, around Amen Corner just like he said he had learned to do following his second-round collapse at the Open last year.

"As we all know he's got an inordinate amount of talent," said Woods. "It was only a matter of time before he started to play like this is a major."

But the pack are snapping at his heels and one round, never mind two more, is a lot of golf left to play in a major championship.

"I need to start fresh, and play some good golf, not think about where I am on the leaderboard, or that it's Augusta National or the Masters," said McIlroy.

"I don't really care what anyone else does, I don't need to know.

"It's obviously going to be a lot of fun but at the same time I'm going to be nervous. But that's natural and you welcome that. It's what we play for."

And what we watch for. Moving Day part II, the sequel - playing at Augusta National on Saturday.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Enjoyed the blog - why the apostrophe in "Saturday's"?

  • Comment number 2.

    Shaping up to be a great tournament. I'd love to see Rory Mac do it - or Lee Westwood - but I'd also love to see the legend that is Woods keep this going and either win or go very very close. Is he really back now? Or will it be more 'flatter to deceive' like his 3rd round back nine at Pebble Beach last year?

  • Comment number 3.

    Rory may only be 21 but he played like a man yesterday.

    He knows he's got ground on these guys and if he just focuses on makings pars on the tough holes and take it to the four par 5's, and shoot 68-69 then it's up to the field to shoot really low to catch him. This is EXCATLY how Woods wins his majors.... he basically tells the field "I'm not going to make a mistake, so if you can shoot 64-65 and make no mistakes then be my guest"

    Woods puts so much pressure on the chasing pack to attack flags that they end up dropping shots, I hope Rory looks to take on a similar strategy.

    Great to see Fred Couples up there again, my all time fave golf moment was when he won Sawgrass in 1996 including an incredible putt on 17. I'm hoping he can mount a charge today and be paired with Rory on Sunday..... the two best-looking swings in Golf in the same group!

  • Comment number 4.

    @PeteRS : What? Where?

    However, "And that good", "There's so many guys with a chance to play themselves into the tournament", and "It was only a matter of time before he started to play like this is a major" are wrong.

    Did Woods really say all that?

  • Comment number 5.

    @PeteRs - stop wasting your time writing such nonsense and comment instead on the golf.

    McIlroy is certainly a star but whether or not he has the bottle to hold on is another question. Woods is a washed up old has-been who can't keep his trousers up and Westwood is in a strong position to attack. But Fred Couples.....now that would be a fairy tale.....

  • Comment number 6.

    I am delighted to see McIlroy at the top of the leader board, but watching Tiger rediscover some of the old magic and roasting the back 9 was incredible.

    Now, I'm aware that one back 9 does not a 15th major victory make, but anyone who saw the way he was hitting the ball and the way he was crafting shots on the fly will have seen a very clear glimpse of the super-confident steely Tiger of old suddenly reappearing on the biggest stage.

    There was a guy on this blog the other day trumpeting away about how Tiger will never win another major - were you watching?

  • Comment number 7.

    "Woods is a washed up old has-been who can't keep his trousers up." - Fletcher @ 5

    Isn't this something of a contradiction in terms?

  • Comment number 8.

    @PeterRS
    Have you got some issues you'd like to discuss? Do tell.

  • Comment number 9.

    I bet woods doesnt do anything. I predicted he would do a good round in the first or second rounds, the media would go crazy, only for him to fade away in the third or 4th rounds.

    He still has the belief, but more talented golfers such as rory do not fear his aura anymore. Which is slowly chipping away at his belief.

    Plus woods has never won a major without leading, so why would this change??

    Also the guy cannot string 4 good rounds togather. I may be proven wrong, so we will see.

    What i find remarkable is people that support woods on here. The guy is not only a poor role model off the course , he is a even worse one on it. He swore again yesterday, despite shooting a flukey 6 under.

    He spits, swears, throws clubs, yet we are all told by the sports journalists that we have to "like him".

    I will stick to supporting the more talneted british golfer in Rory...go rory.

  • Comment number 10.

    Woods in contention love him or hate him he adds to the excitement and great to see him in the mix,Rory and Day will be happy to be playing together,think it will help them both relax,KJ fairly steady,Quioros if he can keep that drive straight will be in there.Barnes and Westwood going along nicely and Freddie doing briliant .

    Should be some weekend,

  • Comment number 11.

    Caution is right, it was a great round from Tiger but the way some sections tell it you'd think he'd already won this tournament and was six shots up in the others this year.

    Good to see McIlroy hold steady, and cheering to see Westwood have a good one too.

  • Comment number 12.

    Looking forward to an amazing weekend. Froch carl, "flukey 6 under.". Really

    Good to see so many players in real contention, and such a wide range of nationalities and ages. This has the makings of a classic Masters, whoever wins!

  • Comment number 13.

    It's part of the value of being experienced and playing your 12th Masters and being in contention before - be very patient and expect the unexpected. [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 14.

    With #3 Couples and Rory together would be brilliant. Good for Rory to have someone so laid back to play alongside.

    I think Woods and Choi both have a really good chance of moving on, but think that Donald might be a good shout if the field starts coming back to him on difficult 3rd day. Can see the end of day 3 leader being on 9 under, so a steady 69 could put him in excellent position, as would a good round for Mickelson.

    Don't think Quiros or Day will hold on over the weekend, but Fowler or Westwood are both capable of a really low round and could play themselves back in it.

    If I had to pick one out of all of these, I think I'd go for Choi - really experienced, major winner, unfazed by Tiger, can hold it together under pressure and not in the spotlight. He's the one with nothing to lose, and they are often the ones who win. So Choi to win from Rory and Woods, with Westwood and Donald making up top 5 but not doing enough to win.

  • Comment number 15.

    I totally agree with froch carl's comment:

    Woods is a dreadful role model. I just can't understand why the media keep promoting him, maybe they get paid to do it! Okay, he is a fantastically talented golfer but has gone off the boil, mainly because of changes to his golf swing, and issues in his private life.

    I do hope Rory can hold his nerve and bring a second major title back to 'Norn Iron' within a year. Can't wait until the leaders get started on their 3rd round later today.

    This is a big weekend for the Ulstermen on the world sporting stage. First we have Tony McCoy in the Grand National, then we have the Ulster rugby team in the quarter finals of the Heniken Cup on Sunday afternoon and of course Rory McIlroy pushing for victory in the Masters.

  • Comment number 16.

    @whatdoiknowaboutanything
    Has KJ won a major? I'm pretty certain it was YE Yang. No doubting KJ's experience though. Another round like yesterday please Westy and Rory to keep it up as well. Most of all looking forward to the return of BBC (TV) Coverage!

  • Comment number 17.

    #16 You're right - it was Yang. Hence my name. Still have a gut instinct for Choi though.

  • Comment number 18.

    tiger is back! the greatest golfer ever does what he does best... proves his critics wrong time and time again. anyone remember the us open when he won on one leg? so much of golf is about the mental side and knowing how to win. how to put the ball in the hole when it matters. finding the shot, forcing the putt in. well tiger knows how to do it just like nicklaus did before him. hes 35, won 70 times including 14 majors.. this guy knows how to win and like mau utd win when playing ugly (man utd have another psychological winner in fergie). tiger has done amazing things for golf from world wide exposure to commerical prize funds. all this talk about his behaviour is so hypocritical. henrik stenson threw his club into a lake not long ago in disgust, sergio garcia spat into the hole. all golfers show petulance. years ago i loved tiger and the drama and the fist pumps. then he became sooo boring. like a computer. now he is showing emotions and i like it! forget his behaviour... he is a golfer. is maradona not a great footballer because he takes loads of drugs and shoots airguns at papparazzi? concentrate on the golf ... what he does in his private life is up to him and affects him not you. have you never made mistakes?!
    i hope mcroy does well. what a talent and what a swing! would love to see rory and tw in the final pairing on sunday... what a story that would be. may the best man win. the true winner should always be golf!

  • Comment number 19.

    froch carl @ 9 and jonny mac @ 15

    It's true that if you discount the qualities of hard work and dedication to be the best, Tiger isn't a great 'role model' either on or off the course. I also share your doubts that he'll keep this going over the weekend. What I don't share is your bemusement that people (like me, for example) still root for him; I feel the very opposite - I find it hard to understand people who don't want to see him back to something approaching his sublime best. If you actively want the greatest player of the modern game - maybe the greatest ever - to disappear from the scene at age 35, you're not golf fans.

  • Comment number 20.

    give me a break. woods is/was the best golfer ever. he spits and says bad words - too bad. he has affairs - so what. you old fudgers need to move on. go tiger! if he wins, he deserves it - there's plenty of pressure on him too

    i hope mcilroy or ishikawa win

    and btw mcilroy is irish - ask him

  • Comment number 21.

    sagamix @19


    I agree saga. It is easy to take things for granted. I wish that I had been lucky enough to have watched Jack Nicklaus, at his best, on live TV.

    I assume that we are sticking with Jack as all time No.1, for now?

    It was good to see LW play well yesterday. If anyone deserves a major…..

  • Comment number 22.

    #5: Woods is "a washed up old has been"?

    That's funny.

    Form is temporary. It comes and goes. Class is permanent. It stays forever.

    Woods is class. You don't win 14 majors and 70-odd times on the tour if you don't have class.

    Woods will be back and he will win more majors. His second shot on the 18th hole yesterday, was the Tiger of old and convinced me of that.

  • Comment number 23.

    if McIlroy could poutt from 10 ft even make 50% of them he would be out of sight by now.. its a real woory come later today, the pins aren't going to be so friendly so he could shoot a 77 and be right out of it,,,
    having said that , have you ever seen anyone hit the balll so well off a fairway, its genius

  • Comment number 24.

    Froch Carl @ 9 - The reason people still root for Tiger is because he is the greatest golfer of his generation, if not of all time. Some of things he has done on a golf course have been defied belief and he has raised golf's global profile considerably.

    I Completely agree with sagamix @ 19, I would suggest that if you wish to see Woods disappear at 35, when guys like Mickelson are playing some of the best golf of their lives at 40, it is infact you who has been influenced by the media, not the thousands of golf fans who see Woods for what he is - a once in a lifetime sportsman.

    That said, I will be rooting for Westwood as he is due a major and McIlroy has time on his side

  • Comment number 25.

    'Class' is being Numero Uno for more than 10 years. I support good golf, not a golfer from my backyard. Your boy, LW, was number one for how many days? Please remind me.......

  • Comment number 26.

    I agree that we should not get too over excited about a Tiger 66 on day 2. He's not the same golfer and he's not the same person as 5 years ago. Can he win it, of course he can, but his next major will be the most difficult of his career. I don't think he is ready mentally or technically. I predict a score of 72-75 for Tiger on Saturday.

    Rory looks good but there is a long way to go. The Masters is pressure like he won't have felt before.

    Watch out for Luke Donald.

  • Comment number 27.

    J. Bull @ 21

    Still Nicklaus, based on whole-of-career stats, I wouldn't argue with that. But Woods in his mid-twenties prime was galaxies better than anyone has ever been. His 15 shot US Open win in 2000 at Pebble - and the 'Tiger Slam' which started there and ended with the 2001 Masters, holding all 4 majors at the same time - this I rate right up there with the greatest sporting achievements ever, not just in golf but in all of sport.

  • Comment number 28.

    who are you to judge? if woods didn't get caught he undoubtedly would have bagged another few majors. and the old fudgers would would be saying (reluctantly) that he is the best ever

  • Comment number 29.

    Regarding Woods v Nicklaus.
    Old enough to have watched Nicklaus since early 70's.
    Woods was definitely the more dominant but that doesn't make him better.
    So many of Tigers majors were handed to him by the mental weakness of the pack. Els, Singh and Mickelson (till he finally won one) as well as the rest of the pack weren't strong enough mentally to take Tiger on.
    Nicklaus came up against Palmer, Player, Watson as well as Floyd, Trevino and Johnny Miller. Only Miller had the mental frailty of the guys Woods beat the others (apart from perhaps Floyd) were all time greats who challenged at nearly every major and never buckled under pressure.
    Nicklaus for me.

  • Comment number 30.

    Further to 29 above. I urge everyone to watch the Nicklaus pre tournament interview at masters.com. It's long but fascinating, especially about the differences between the modern pro and the guys he played with.

  • Comment number 31.

    mattlehagi @29

    Yes, totally agree. Woods probably did soar higher, as sagamix points out, but he didn't maintain those heights for long enough, in order to dislodge Jack. And you're right, Nicklaus had much tougher opposition, most of the time.

    The point about mental toughness is often lost in the hype that surrounds Tiger. From my recollection, he won the majority of his majors by holing (the most) par saving putts, not tearing up the course. And, it's that ability to hole pressure putts that he (currently) appears to have lost. Will he rediscover that this weekend?

  • Comment number 32.

    Opinions of this article please :)

    http://expertscolumn.com/content/golf-i-dont-get-it

  • Comment number 33.

    Woods is only 35, remember, and still has a very classy golf game in most respects, sufficient to contend/win in big events. Be surprised if he can conjur up another period of dominance - seems to have lost his edge around the greens for one thing (e.g. yesterday's round) - but regarding the comparison with Nicklaus, it's relevant what he does over the next, say, 5 to 7 years.

 

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.