AUGUSTA, Ga. — More sweater weather is in store for the weekend, but Scottie Scheffler seems comfortable in whatever both Mother Nature and the field throw at him. A host of big names are around for the weekend, but most are well back. No star is bigger than Tiger Woods, who continues to write another chapter in his Masters story. Here's what we'll be watching:
Work Weekend for Tiger
If the wheels weren’t off they were hanging on for dear life early in Tiger’s second round. He made four bogeys in his first five holes to leave him treading along the cut line. To put it mildly, things looked bleak. The remaining 13 holes were a microcosm of the past 14 months for Woods, as he clawed his way back, all the way to 1-over par for the tournament.
He’ll head into the weekend inside the top-20, which which on the surface feels like a good-but-not great result. But let’s take one giant step back before play gets underway to consider what a shock it was to learn that last Tuesday he was in Augusta for a scouting trip – it couldn’t be that he’s gearing up to make a return, could it?
Then there was the tweet last Sunday where he declared himself a “game-time decision” before declaring on Tuesday that he fully intended to compete. The last time we saw Woods before it was go-time, he was limping significantly around the back nine on Wednesday morning. Now here we are. Just as he has for much of the past decade, Woods continues to defy the odds. He is indeed the same guy who back to 2008 at the U.S. Open proved that he does not need two fully functioning legs to win a major.
Scottie Scheffler is No. 1 for a Reason
Scottie Scheffler clearly didn’t get the memo – Friday delivered tough scoring conditions in which players were supposed to be thrilled with an even-par round. Scheffler wouldn’t have any of that, as he scorched Augusta over his final 11 holes in 6-under.
We've learned this year that Scheffler likes to work quickly, and he bolted out to a 5-shot advantage, which is tied for the largest 36-hole lead in Masters history. Scheffler was ranked 14th in February before three wins in five starts allowed him to claim the top spot.
Throughout this incredible run, Scheffler has done it all with a grin on his face and composure to be admired.
Time to Put the Move in Moving Day
Given the gap between Scheffler and the rest of ‘em, combined with Scheffler’s affinity for closing over the past two months, he’s unlikely to give the tournament away. Someone is going to have to go get it.
Potential chasers include Justin Thomas, who can heat up at a moment’s notice and did on Friday, when he jumped from 70th to 10th while matching Scheffler for low round of the day. Cold, windy conditions are forecast for this weekend and Cameron Smith has already shown what he’s capable of in such circumstances at last month’s Players Championship. Perhaps Bubba Watson should aim for the pine straw if he hopes to win a third green jacket? He’s done his best work from the pines of Augusta National and he added to that portfolio on Friday with this approach.
Even if Bubba doesn’t add a third green jacket to his closet, he certainly seemed excited about his shoes for the weekend.
The storylines are already vast but another 36 holes still lie ahead. One virtual certainty is that we’ll see Tiger in Sunday red. Who would've thought?
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