- Jason Sobel, Senior Golf Writer
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Throughout this week, ESPN.com golf editor Jason Sobel will be live-blogging from the Masters, bringing you inside information and analysis from Augusta National Golf Club. Refresh this page often to keep track of all the entries during each round.
Masters live blog: Round 1
8 a.m.: Welcome back to the Masters. I'll be your tour guide for Round 2 today. On our trip through the wild world of Augusta we'll see a few underdogs, some guys playing chicken and one prowling Tiger. Keep an eye out: We may even witness the rarest bird of all -- the, uh, birdie. (Don't worry, the puns will get better as the caffeine kicks in.)
Plenty of questions entering the round:
• Did Justin Rose and Brett Wetterich each wake up in a cold sweat last night and suddenly realize, "Holy %$#@! I'm leading the Masters!"?
• Was Tiger Woods' bogey-bogey finish a CBS-spiracy to keep this thing interesting over the weekend?
• Will Phil Mickelson wear a hat?
• How will Sergio Garcia's facial hair affect his putting game? (Couldn't hurt it, right?)
• Will Charles Howell III be jealous of fellow Augusta native Vaughn Taylor's place on the leaderboard ... or really jealous?
Stewart Cink and Todd Hamilton -- who shot an are-you-kidding-me? round of 74 yesterday; I mean, have you seen his results lately? -- are on the first tee, as Round 2 is under way, right ... about ... now ...
8:09 a.m.: I did a few radio interviews after yesterday's round and every host asked me the exact same question: "How much will the leaders be thinking about Tiger Woods on Friday?"
The answer is about as much as they're thinking about nuclear biophysics out there. Believe me, Rose and Wetterich will have plenty on their minds today -- gauging the wind, selecting the right club, hitting the ball to "safe" spots on the course, reading the treacherous greens, calming their nerves -- but Tiger ain't one of 'em.
And you know what? Woods isn't thinking about Rose and Wetterich, either. He's just out there trying to post a score, like everyone else.
8:19 a.m.: Todd Hamilton just made par on the first hole to stay at 2-over. His 74 yesterday was a better score than he's seen in 11 of 21 rounds this year -- and it came at Augusta National! I know I just mentioned his recent results, but let's really look at what he's done since winning the British Open three years ago:
8:26 a.m.: You know why we can't over-analyze what happens in the first round of a golf tournament? For the same reason that we can't over-analyze what happens in the first quarter of an NFL or NBA game. Sure, sometimes a team takes an early lead and keeps it throughout the game, but usually it comes down to the wire. Same holds true for golf. You know how during college orientation they tell you to take a look at the person on each side of you because one of 'em won't be around in four years? Well, take a look at the leaderboard right now because by the end of the day, we'll forget some of these guys were even there in the first place.
• 2007: eight starts, one made cut. Best finish of 72nd.
• 2006: 27 starts, eight made cuts. Best finish of T-10 (but nothing else better than T-50).
• 2005: 31 starts, 17 made cuts. Best finish of T-13.
Other than a couple of semi-decent results at the John Deere Classic -- the freakin' John Deere Classic! -- he's followed that dramatic playoff victory over Ernie Els by doing absolutely nothing. You might think Brett Wetterich and Justin Rose are surprises, and I know guys like Jeev Milkha Singh are good stories, but nothing shocks me more than seeing Hamilton up near the leaderboard.
8:36 a.m.: Case in point: Tim Herron. Teed off at even-par and 10 minutes later, he's now 1-over.
8:39 a.m.: While driving through the side streets of Augusta on my way to the course this morning, I actually had to brake as a chicken crossed the road. How clichéd ...
But it does bring up this point: There are random chickens roaming the streets just a few blocks away from the world's greatest golf course. If you were a chicken, wouldn't you try to get in through the front gates? Squeeze past the hedges or something? Just seems a waste that all of you good folks are back home watching on TV and the chickens get to hang out in Augusta during Masters week.
8:41 a.m.: I really think the vaunted Tiger Woods Intimidation Factor is way overblown. Like Geoff Ogilvy said at Doral a few weeks ago:
- "He's just better than us. If I knew what he was doing, I'd try to do it myself ... I mean, it's good for us because it makes us try to get better. It's kind of fun playing now because he's getting pretty close to being the best golfer of all time. It's fun watching."
Here's the thing: Tiger Woods is like the Tony Soprano of the PGA Tour. The guys he works with aren't scared of him, but they'd really rather not tick him off, either. So they smile, wave, offer him their meatball hoagie, speak about him in glowing terms. It's just better than making him mad.
8:55 a.m.: And in your 8:55 a.m. tee time ... Mr. Brett Wetterich! I'm interested to see how he holds up today. Wetterich has a rep as a birdie machine, but makes some ugly numbers, too. He's a quadruple-bogey waiting to happen, which he can counteract with enough eagles and birdies on another course, but not here.
By the way, Wetterich's rise through professional golf is akin to if Gary Coleman had won that California gubernatorial race ... and was named President of the United States a year later.
Eighteen months ago, Wetterich was toiling away at Q-school. He made it through, got hot during a six-week span last season during which he won the Byron Nelson, made the Ryder Cup team and now he's giving interviews in Butler Cabin. Even Tiger can't say he did all of that.
8:59 a.m.: Speaking of Wetterich, he seemed like he was "walking on eggshells" (that's the famous David Toms quote about what it feels like at Augusta National) during yesterday's postround press conference:
- Q. If you're in control of this course overnight, you water it more? Less? What do you do?
BRETT WETTERICH: I don't think I'm going to say anything on that. They have their plan of attack on what they want to do out here and we've just got to go out and play.
Q. What'd you like to see?
BRETT WETTERICH: The same. I thought it was a good test of golf out there today. To me they don't have to do any changes.
Attaboy, Brett. Don't want to anger the gods of Augusta.
9:04 a.m.: Did I write off Tim Herron too soon? He follows his opening-hole bogey with a birdie on No. 2. OK, all together now, like Signboy when he sees Herron jump out of the birthday cake: "Lumpy!!!"
9:10 a.m.: One guy I'm rooting for today? Rich Beem. This guy is more local muni than Augusta National, just a down-to-earth dude who smiles a lot and says what's on his mind. Here's what he said upon coming into the interview room here in the media center yesterday:
- "I've never known this was here. This is pretty exciting for me."
Uh, really? You didn't know that Augusta National had an interview room? It got even, well, funner from there:
- "I hit the ball good. I gave myself a lot of opportunities. When I didn't hit the ball good or missed the green, I missed it in the right spots it seemed like and I made the come-backers if I needed to. And I hit a couple, like I said, really quality shots, and I got rewarded for them. It was actually probably one of the funnest rounds."
Somewhere, Rich's third-grade English teacher is wondering if maybe she picked the wrong profession after all. Here's more:
- Q. Could you take us through that nice ride through Amen Corner?
RICH BEEM: Oh, man. It starts with No. 11?
Yes, Rich. Yes, it does.
And on the support he received from the patrons:
- "I got pretty good applause, but they are kind of so far away, as you know, they are not right on top of you. Everybody is very festive. A lot of nice yellings."
Like I said, a man to root for. Keep up those yellings.
9:17 a.m.: Brad in Texas gets the first e-mail post of the day with an important question that I know has been on everyone's mind:
- I realize this is a little off topic, but what does a guy with an unlimited expense account (yes, I mean you) do on Thursday night after the first day of the Masters?
Not much, really. Finished up the blog around 6 p.m., so Billy and I grabbed a cart and some members' clubs (I can't tell you whose) and headed over to 12 for a while. We knocked a few balls on there, then went over to 16 as the sun was setting. Cool little hole. After that, we rolled back to the grillroom, but it was just packed, so we took the back staircase to the Champions Room and grabbed some drinks and appetizers with Tiger, Phil and Vijay. (Phil said he really needed a good daiquiri after that long day; we all got a good laugh out of that one.) After that, Daly picked me up in the limo and we grabbed some wings at Hooters. That guy's a riot; he's making more money this week than he did finishing in third place here way back when. And then I called it a night. Like I said, nothing special, really.
9:27 a.m.: Shocker of the day so far is Seve Ballesteros, who started par-birdie-par-par before making a costly double on No. 5. That's going to hurt his chances at the green jacket.
9:33 a.m.: Leaderboard update: Brett Wetterich is even through two holes today, remaining at 3-under for the tournament. Better believe he'd take 16 more pars today and hightail it down Magnolia Lane in red numbers entering the weekend.
9:36 a.m.: Matthew in Hong Kong (wow, Hong Kong? This Internet thing is getting big, huh?) asks a question that many wanted to know yesterday, but now I have the answer to:
- What's up with Woosie withdrawing from the event?
Unfortunately, poor Ian Woosnam has been having severe sinus problems ever since this tragic accident. The man can't go within 200 yards of a champagne bottle anymore, let alone one that's bigger than him. It's sad, really.
Actually, he tweaked his back. I just needed an excuse to post that video again.
9:45 a.m.: Of the 22 players who have finished at least one hole so far today, only three are under par. Miguel Angel Jimenez, Lee Westwood and Raymond Floyd -- trying to make his first cut here since '99 -- are each 1-under for the day through three holes.
9:50 a.m.: From e-mailer Bradley in Plantation, Fla.:
- How is the weather? My dad and I are coming into town for the weekend rounds and I have no idea what to pack!!!
That reminds me that I forgot today's weather report. Here you go:
- High clouds moved across the Augusta area overnight for several hours and this has kept temperatures a few degrees warmer than expected; therefore, little or no frost this morning. High clouds will again move across the Augusta area this morning, keeping our temperatures very cool. As the clouds move away this afternoon, we will see some sunshine, but high will remain in the 50s.
My report lists the high temp on Saturday at 57, with winds gusting to 20 mph. On Sunday, there will be a high of 60, with winds of only 8-12 mph.
9:59 a.m.: Some early observations: No one is making a run. At all. Hardly any birdies out there for the taking. Brett Wetterich has made four straight pars. Quite honestly, I have a feeling that 49 more pars wins him the green jacket. In other words, last man standing at 3-under just might win this thing.
10:01 a.m.: And in the Spoke Too Soon Dept.: Todd Hamilton has made a double and two other bogeys through eight holes and is now 6-over for the tournament.
10:04 a.m.: OK, we're exactly 30 minutes away from Tiger Woods' tee time, so let's have a little chat about the man going for green jacket No. 5.
What does he need to improve today?
Without a doubt, he's got to get that driver figured out. He sprayed it all over the yard yesterday, which isn't going to do much good for your score around here. Woods knows it, too. "I've got to organize a few things," he said after shooting 73 yesterday. Expect him to possibly hit 3-wood off the tee on some of the shorter par-4 holes (like No. 3).
Where can he improve his score?
He's got to dominate the par-5s. He birdied both the 13th and 15th holes yesterday, and doing the same on Nos. 2 and 8 will certainly help. He's got to take advantage of his length on these holes.
Does he have a number in mind?
He knows conditions are going to be tough, even tougher than in Round 1. After yesterday's round, he said, "Pins, I thought, were a little friendly." The harder the course plays, the better Tiger's chances are. Other guys will make more mistakes than him. I'm guessing he'd take even-par 72 today, but if he can get it to 70, he'd be thrilled.
OK, so what will he shoot?
Let's split the difference on those two numbers. I say he shoots 71, which puts him at even-par -- well within the top-10 entering the weekend.
10:15 a.m.: Weird morning so far. Hardly any of the leaders have teed off. We've got Wetterich even for the day through five holes, Tim Herron even through seven (and even overall) and David Howell dropping off, after playing the first two holes in 3-over.
10:22 a.m.: I spoke with Brett Quigley a few months ago (right before the Accenture Match Play Championship) and at the time, he was planning to pull a Mickelson, playing Augusta National with a beeper in his bag and ready to leave at a moment's notice if his wife Amy went into labor.
Well, as I'm sure you've read by now, she had the baby early Wednesday morning and Quigley came back here afterward, shooting 4-over 76 in the first round.
The coolest part of the story is the baby's name: Lillian Sage Augusta. I was really hoping Quigley would win this week. It might have spawned a bunch of tour baby names like Oakmont, Carnoustie and Southern Hills.
10:27 a.m.: Tiger's group is next up on the tee. How tough is it to play with this guy? Consider that Paul Casey (2006 European Tour POY) and Aaron Baddeley (2007 FBR Open champ) are a couple of pretty talented young players -- and among many experts' sleeper picks to win entering this week -- but each shot 79 when grouped with Woods yesterday. Strangely enough, they both carded one double, seven bogeys and two birdies.
10:41 a.m.: First spy report of the day: Expect some birdies and -- dare I even say it? -- maybe even an ace or two at the par-3 12th hole today. Easiest pin position of the week, right in front and left of the greenside bunker.
10:45 a.m.: Looking at some other pin placements, both nine and 18 are ridiculous. Guys are gonna need one of those T-shirt guns they use at baseball games to get one high enough and land it soft enough so that it stays anywhere near the pin. No. 9's cup is way left, 19 yards deep and 18's is back right, just over the bunker.
10:51 a.m.: Brett Wetterich is playing the game the way it's supposed to be played. That is, by making pars. Here's his seven-hole tally so far: par, par, par, par, par, par, par. That's what they call "not tryin' to do too much." He's got to be happy so far.
10:53 a.m.: Proving that Augusta National isn't quite as tough as those made-up courses on Tiger Woods' EA Sports video game, Luke Donald just made eagle on No. 2. After a bogey on the first, he's now at even-par overall.
10:56 a.m.: Uh-oh. Told you it's not going to be easy for Tiger. He just bogeyed the first. That's three straight bogeys, going back to yesterday.
11:01 a.m.: I think we've all been where Larry Mize was yesterday. Not the anniversary week he was hoping for, as evidenced by his comments yesterday:
- "My short game was horrendous today. I didn't putt very well and didn't chip very well. I didn't bring a short game with me today. ... I had some misreads and my speed was pretty bad today. I didn't hit the ball horrible, but I didn't hit it good, either. I made a lot of mental mistakes."
Other than that, things are going well, thanks.
11:09 a.m.: I read a book once about a man who could only make par. Wish I could remember the name of it. In any case, one of the main characters sold his soul for par (or something like that). He could stripe an approach shot to within 2 feet, but he'd miss the putt. He could slice a ball into the trees, chip out and still get up and down for par. It took all the fun out of the game, he said, because he knew the result before it happened.
Well, Brett Wetterich has now made eight straight pars, though I'm pretty sure he neither sold his soul nor isn't having fun. Like I said earlier, he'd take 18 of 'em.
Good time to post this e-mail from Bill in Downingtown, Pa.:
- Saw Brett on the practice green on Tuesday miss at least 15 5-foot right-to-left sliders in a row. It got so bad that his caddie asked him what was going on and Brett said he didn't think he could make the putt. He finally made one, the patrons actually clapped, and he headed to the driving range. At that point, I would have bet the farm he would have missed the cut this week. I saw him make at least three of those putts yesterday!
Just goes to show you how fast guys can lose it out here and get it back. But makes me wonder whether he'll lose it again at some point this week.
11:19 a.m.: I really liked Padraig Harrington at this week's tournament ... until I heard him speak earlier in the week:
- "It would take a few good breaks for me to improve my game over the next few years to improve on this course."
Uh, you're a world-class player, dude. Breaks? Improvement? You're there -- just go out and do your thing.
Well, that's what he's doing so far today, with birdies on his first three holes to move to 2-over after yesterday's 77.
11:23 a.m.: Finally. I'm envisioning there are volunteers working the hand-operated scoreboards on the course who have been sitting around with a red "4" in their hands for a round and a half -- and have nothing to do with it. Until now. Brett Wetterich makes birdie on 9. He's your solo leader.
11:27 a.m.: Great observation from my buddy Jared, who is (as you'll be able to tell) from Boston:
- Does anybody feel bad that Seve is horribly embarrassing now? It's like when Chuck Knoblauch forgot how to throw to first base and it basically ended his career. Red Sox fans still couldn't have cared less.
Not sure there's ever been a less popular Masters champion than Seve Ballesteros. (And remember, Nick Faldo and Bernhard Langer won here, too.) He's now 5-over for the day after dumping one in the water on 12.
11:32 a.m.: David Feherty on the "Live at Amen Corner" broadcast, discussing the fact that Justin Rose only took 20 putts in yesterday's round:
- "How could you have 20 putts around here? I could have 20 putts on one green!"
11:37 a.m.: The projected cut is at 7-over right now. Go post a number, Watabu.
11:40 a.m.: Another bogey for Tiger Woods at the fourth hole. Can't tell you what's going on with him right now, although the stats are awful. He's reached two of the four greens in regulation and taken eight total putts -- two per hole.
11:48 a.m.: Lunchtime. And I'm in a better mood than Brett Wetterich right now after grabbing two chicken fillets. Here's how they do it in the media center dining lounge: Basically there are three trays of sandwiches at all times. Help yourself, take whatever you'd like. But no special orders. So if it's all pimento cheese sandwiches -- as I found yesterday afternoon -- well, you're either holding your nose and wolfing one down or going hungry. I chose the latter.
11:53 a.m.: As e-mailer Matt says:
- Four words: Watch. Out. For. Vijay.
Singh and Singh have now switched positions on the leaderboard, with Vijay making birdie on the second to move to even-par for the tournament through four holes and Jeev Milkha playing the front side in 1-over to fall over par overall.
12:01 p.m.: I wonder what some of the Augusta National folks think about David Toms' presence on the leaderboard this week. You'll recall these comments he made last year after the event:
- "To me, it's still a place where the players walk around on eggshells, not knowing if they are in the right place. They're worried about their cell phone being on, having to stop by the hut on the way in to scan your ticket, making sure you only have one parking pass and somebody else doesn't get in there.
"It's the only place all year where the players don't feel like they're the most important thing there. That's the way I see it, and I don't think I'm the single opinion on that."
Quite honestly, he didn't say anything too inflammatory and I'm certain there are many other players who feel the same way. That said, you just don't go around tempting the fates at this place.
After starting with a bogey today, he's now at 1-under overall.
12:12 p.m.: Through 30 holes so far, Rod Pampling has some pretty wild stats:
• six birdies
• 12 pars
• 11 bogeys
• one double-bogey
12:15 p.m.: Tim Clark has made par on each of his first two holes. Good time to answer this e-mail from Bill:
- Tim Clark finished second last year. What are your thoughts about him hanging around until Sunday afternoon?
You know, maybe I don't know what I'm talking about, but I wouldn't think Clark's game is suited for this course whatsoever. He doesn't hit it too long off the tee and doesn't have a very high ball flight. He does a pretty fair job with that broomstick putter -- I think it's about three inches taller than he is -- but I've always thought he'd have more of a shot at a U.S. Open or PGA.
Adding to that, he's had a lingering neck injury, saying after yesterday's round, "I'm getting a lot of stiffness, but feel better." (Hold the snide comments ... as funny as they may be.) He's only played three events this year prior to the Masters.
That said, I do like Clark's game. It seems the closer the top score is to par, the better he does. He's a grinder, no doubt about it. If I'm Tim Clark, I'm rooting for the course to play ultra-tough this weekend.
12:23 p.m.: Through 12 holes today, Brett Wetterich has made 11 pars and a birdie (at the ninth hole). Here are the stats:
• Fairways: 3 of 9.
• Greens in reg: 9 of 12.
• Sand saves: 1 of 1.
• Putts: 20 (1.67 per hole).
12:26 p.m.: Ben Crane's ball was just precariously perched about 3 inches above the water hazard on 12, embedded in the grass. He took off one shoe, took a huge whack at it and knocked it into the bunker, short of the green.
And yes, he almost fell into the water. That would have been fun.
12:31 p.m.: Perhaps the theme for the week: Watch. Out. For. Vijay. Birdie at 6 has him 3 back of the lead.
12:33 p.m.: Whoa! Cheeseheads, rejoice! Jerry Kelly is making this tournament look like the Greater Milwaukee Open right now. After a 75 yesterday, Kelly has birdied four of his first eight holes to get into red numbers.
What's he doing right? How about 10 putts through eight holes? That'll move you up the leaderboard in a hurry ...
12:38 p.m.: My buddy Matt just tipped me off to this story from the Boston Globe's Jim McCabe about a man who literally tried to get a practice round in during Monday's practice round at Augusta National. Worth a quick read. Hilarious.
Along the same lines, I met a guy the other day who has lived in Augusta for some 20 years and has never played this course. But his clubs have. A buddy of his who didn't play golf -- yes, folks, he didn't play golf! -- got an invite to the club, so he borrowed this man's sticks and hacked his way around Augusta National.
12:45 p.m.: One of the "Live at Amen Corner" announcers just referred to Yong-Eun Yang as "Yung Yung Yung." The guy beats Tiger and Goose at the HSBC, he deserves to have his name pronounced right.
12:59 p.m.: After yesterday's round, I wrote about last year's four U.S. Ryder Cup rookies and said we should watch out for them over the weekend. Well, halfway through the day, they're a combined 1-under. Brett Wetterich is 1-under through 14 holes; Zach Johnson is 1-under through two; Vaughn Taylor is 1-over through 2; and J.J. Henry has yet to tee off.
1:07 p.m.: My favorite radio show host, Jeff "The Fish" Aaron on ESPN Radio 1380 in Washington, e-mailed me to point out the similarities between Wetterich and the dream one man once had for winning this tournament. See if this sounds familiar:
- Incredible Cinderella story. This unknown, comes out of nowhere, to lead the pack ... at Augusta. He's at his final hole. He's about 455 yards away, he's gonna hit about a 2-iron I think. [Swings, pulverizes a flower] Oh, he got all of that. The crowd is standing on its feet here at Augusta. The normally reserved Augusta crowd, going wild ... [pauses] for this young Cinderella who's come out of nowhere. He's got about 350 yards left, he's going to hit about a 5-iron it looks like, don't you think? He's got a beautiful backswing ... [swings, pulverizes another flower] That's ... Oh, he got all of that one! He's gotta be pleased with that! The crowd is just on its feet here. He's a Cinderella boy. Tears in his eyes, I guess, as he lines up this last shot. He's got about 195 yards left, and he's got a, looks like he's got about an 8-iron. This crowd has gone deadly silent ... Cinderella story, out of nowhere, former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters Champion. [Swings, pulverizes yet another flower] It looks like a mirac- It's in the hole! It's in the hole! Former greenskeeper, now Masters champion!
Ladies and gentlemen: The Brett Wetterich Story. Coming soon to a TV near you.
1:16 p.m.: The Spackler Jinx? Just as I post that entry, Wetterich bogeys -- on a par-5, the 15th, no less -- to fall back into a share of the lead at 3-under with Justin Rose, who has yet to tee off.
1:18 p.m.: Coming soon to an amusement park near you: The Tiger Woods roller coaster. It goes up! It goes down! Woods has gone bogey-birdie-bogey-birdie the last four holes and heads to the 11th tee at 2-over for the day, 3-over for the tournament.
1:30 p.m.: Brett Wetterich has now dropped another stroke, moving to 2-under, but here comes Zach Johnson, who's birdied the second and third holes to get to 3-under.
He's not a very long hitter -- Johnson ranks 157th on tour with an average driving distance of 276.3 yards -- but as one of his friends just pointed out to me, Zach has now played five par-5 holes in the past two rounds and birdied every single one of 'em.
1:36 p.m.: The U.S. Open comparison is holding true. Only six players in red numbers right now, including Justin Rose (who has yet to tee off) and J.J. Henry (who has played only one hole so far).
1:39 p.m.: Tiger continuing the pattern, following up his latest birdie with a bogey at 11 to drop to 4-over for the tournament. meanwhile, playing partner Paul Casey, who was six shots behind Woods entering the day, is 3-under for the round and tied with Tiger.
Wow. When was the last time one of Tiger Woods' playing partners made up six shots on him in 11 holes?
1:42 p.m.: This just into the e-mail bin from John:
- Tiger doesn't have it this week. Not enough to win anyway. Top form, he can't be touched, but with his "B" game, he only finishes in the top-20.
We're writing him off already, huh? You can drive that bandwagon, John. I'm staying right here and seeing what happens.
1:44 p.m.: Uh, got any room left on that bandwagon? Tiger Woods drops his tee shot with a wedge to the right of the 12th green and spins it off the slope and into the water hazard. He's officially in trouble, folks. The cut line is looking like 7-over and even if Tiger can bogey from here, he'll be 5-over with six to play.
Meanwhile, that Tiger shot came just seconds after Paul Casey knocked one to within two inches on 12. There have only been three holes-in-one at this hole in Masters history, but like I said earlier, with this pin position, it's quite possible -- and Casey came as close as he could without jarring it.
1:57 p.m.: When Brett Wetterich was making all those pars earlier in the day, I said he'd be thrilled at shooting an even-par 72 today. Well, he finished with a 73 -- a score he would be happy with had he not lost two strokes late in the round. He'll be mad about those bogeys on 15 and 16, but when it comes down to it, he knows he's in great shape entering the weekend.
From Jim in Noblesville, Indiana:
- Wetterich looks like he knows that par is a good score. Not trying to do anything heroic. Ryder Cup, a few World Golf Championships, final round with Tiger at Doral ... that experience looks like it's helping him this week at Augusta.
Couldn't agree more. Once Wetterich speaks, I'll let you know what he has to say.
2:04 p.m.: Staring at the leaders, it finally hit me: This is the Masters, it's playing like the U.S. Open ... and we have a PGA Championship leaderboard.
It really is, with a bunch of guys who aren't necessarily household names, but aren't bad players, either. Sort of like what we usually see at the year's final major, where it's just an eclectic, unpredictable leaderboard. A leaderboard only a diehard could love.
2:06 p.m.: Wow. This is going to be very interesting. Tiger hits a long iron second shot into the par-5 13th hole and lands it in the creek right of the green. You can see the ball sitting up. Does he try to hit it from the creek? Take a drop? We will see ...
2:09 p.m.: Tiger taking a drop ...
2:11 p.m.: Good point from e-mailer Steve, who knows a thing or two about Tiger, obviously:
- After dunking a ball in the water on No. 12 a moment ago, Woods has played his last 14 holes in 6 over, counting those bogeys on Nos. 17-18 yesterday. In that 14-hole run, he has a total of four pars. His card is all over the map, like Mickelson. Gawd, it can't be that hard out there, can it? Maybe that back-nine 43 at Bay Hill three weeks ago was not such an anomaly after all?
Just an unbelievable downward spiral. He's now putting for par on 13 ... and drains it from 10 feet to save par. Huge putt.
2:18 p.m.: Here's the deal with the cut line for today: The top 44 players (and ties) reach the weekend. That means that if everyone ended where they are right now, 5-over would do it -- and yes, Tiger happens to be right on the cut line.
But here's the rub: Anyone within 10 shots of the leader also continues on, so if the leader is, let's say, Justin Rose at 3-under (he just teed off and is playing the first hole), that means everyone 7-over and better keeps going. Of course, if Rose shoots 70 and gets it to 5-under, then all of the guys at 6- and 7-over can kiss Augusta National goodbye.
2:24 p.m.: And now a word from the voice of reason, Christopher in Washington D.C.:
- Careful, there's still another birdie hole left on the back nine for Tiger and, as badly as he's playing, if he makes it to 3-over, he could very well only be five shots back, very well within reach of a hot weekend. I'm not saying I see it happening, I'm just saying it's possible and if Tiger's shown us anything, it's that he constantly amazes us.
Well, he's amazing us already today, that's for sure.
2:44 p.m.: There are scores to be had out here ... it's just that no one is reaching out and grabbing them. For example: Jerry Kelly (4-under today through 15 holes) and Paul Casey (4-under through 14) are each going somewhat low, though I don't think Nick Price and Greg Norman are worrying about losing their single-round scoring record of 63.
Maybe it's not the Masters, U.S. Open or PGA -- it's more like the NL West, with no one running away with it.
2:51 p.m.: Just got this e-mail (and you'll see why the reader didn't include his name):
- I apologize for being lame, but my colleagues made me send this in. Somewhere, there is a 2-year-old wondering if Tiger will ever win a Masters in his lifetime.
Yeah, pretty lame.
2:56 p.m.: Ed in Washington, D.C., made me laugh. He gets in the blog (though it wouldn't take much right now, getting a bit punch-drunk):
- You heard it here first, Jason: Jose Maria Olazabal will win this tournament. Actually, I guess you read it here first. Unless someone else either said it to you or e-mailed it to you already, in which case you read it here second. Or third. Whatever. Oops … boss coming …
That final pairing of the day is huge. Justin Rose, who bogeyed the first and is at 2-under right now; Jose Maria Olazabal, who shot 74 yesterday and is even today; and local favorite Charles Howell III, who has a birdie already and is at 2-over as well.
Not exactly the Tiger/Phil/Ogilvy grouping we had during the first two rounds of last year's PGA, but very solid players who must be drawing some confidence from each other.
3:06 p.m.: Time for a DFL update: Seve Ballesteros shot 80 today to finish at 22-over. Casey Watabu has 10 holes left to play and is currently at 18-over. This thing's gonna come down to the wire. C'mon, Casey. Do it for the 808.
3:11 p.m.: Sorry, folks. I've let you down, as Frank in Tucson reminds me:
- Where's the answer to Phil's "visor or cap" question? We need to know these things!!!
Visor. Definitely visor. I'm telling you, that hat was on too tight yesterday ...
Mickelson is 1-over for the day through three holes, by the way. Plenty of golf left to go.
3:15 p.m.: Confirmation on what I was saying earlier about Brett Wetterich loving all of those pars. Here's what he had to say:
- "I wanted to make a lot of pars. You always hear the great players say that pars are great in majors. I was just going out there to try and make as many as I could and I did pretty good for 14 holes. Then I had a few hiccups, but kind of gathered myself and had a good 17th and 18th hole."
3:18 p.m.: I absolutely love this e-mail from Mike in New York:
- Right now, Tiger and Phil are behind the Masters winners from 26 (Tom Watson), 25 (Craig Stadler), and 23 (Ben Crenshaw) years ago. That's ludicrous -- for comparison, what would happen if Borg played Federer right now?
You can say that about almost any other sport, really. Other than pro wrestling, in what other competitive arena could a 50-something has-been beat a 31-year-old in the prime of the greatest career we've ever seen, if only for a little while, at least?
And I hate to break it to you, but unlike the WWE, the Masters isn't fixed.
3:23 p.m.: My on-course spies are getting a bit worn out, I'm afraid. the latest "insider tip" barely qualifies:
- "The wind blew Steve Stricker's name off the No. 11 scoreboard. It was flapping, hanging by one end. Flag straight out. Don't know if that's interesting.
Um, nope. Not at all, really.
3:27 p.m.: Another spy report (different spy), slightly better. Heard in the gallery, as Woods walked past:
- "Well, he's got the last name right, because that's where he's been all day -- in the Woods!"
Like I said, slightly better. But it makes sense, at least. After hitting 7 of 14 fairways yesterday, Tiger has hit only 5 of 13 today.
3:31 p.m.: Leaderboard update: Tim Clark and Zach Johnson tied for the lead at 3-under, 1 shot clear of Brett Wetterich and Justin Rose.
If you'd like me to explain ... I can't. This place is supposed to be diabolical, with only the biggest hitters in the world able to contend for a green jacket. And yet, here we are with a couple of peashooters atop the leaderboard. Johnson was 145th in PGA Tour driving distance last year; Clark was 183rd. Quite honestly, there's no reason a pair of short hitters are playing so well at a 7,445-yard course, other than their mind-set. Both Johnson and Clark are used to grinding out pars, whereas many of the big hitters spend their lives as birdie machines. That's the best answer I can come up with.
3:37 p.m.: Chris DiMarco is making a mess of things, on the verge of missing his second straight Masters cut after finishing as runner-up two years ago. At 6-over, he just dumped one into the water on 12, then took a strange drop (off to the side of the hazard) and almost had another one roll back in. He's going to have some work to do to stay on the right side of the cut line.
The first proof we've seen in quite a while that Gators don't win everything.
3:42 p.m.: Tiger Woods is going to make the cut. And he's still in contention. That's the good news.
The bad news? Woods followed yesterday's 73 with a topsy-turvy, up-and-down, all-over-the-place 2-over 74.
Simply put, he didn't drive the ball well and didn't hit his irons very well. He actually putted OK; his putting average of 1.555 was much better than yesterday's 1.928.
Can he still win? Yes, but he's got a lot of work to do.
3:52 p.m.: Jerry Kelly is currently in the interview room following a 3-under 69 today. He just revealed that he is working with a mental coach that used to be an Olympic-level rifleman. "People don't think they're athletes and they don't think we're athletes," he explained. Guess that helps with taking aim, visualizing targets and pulling the trigger.
3:56 p.m.: You think these conditions are tough? This is nothing, says Jim Furyk:
- "There's not much wind. Pin placements weren't quite as severe as yesterday. ... If it's sunny like this, and not a lot of wind, then the temperatures won't be a big deal. You get a little wind and a little cold, it's going to be tough."
3:59 p.m.: I've gotten a ton of e-mails like this one from Brad in Canada ever since Tiger finished his round:
- This, in my mind, is what makes Tiger so much better than everyone else on tour, and perhaps ever. Eldrick just played the equivalent of two rounds blindfolded, and he is only six shots off the pace heading into the weekend. Forget his "B" game; that was as close to an "F" as Tiger has and there are still only nine players in front of him.
Look, he's in contention, he recovered nicely, he can still win. We know all of that. But the dude is getting a whole lot of credit for shooting 73-74 over two rounds. Can't tell you how many "This is why he's so good," responses I've gotten already.
How come nobody is saying, "This is why Paul Casey is so good," or "This is why Padraig Harrington is so good," or "This is why Jerry Kelly is so good"?
Like I said, he's right there, in good -- but not great -- position. But let's give credit where credit is due.
4:05 p.m.: Interesting stuff from Padraig Harrington, who was just in the interview room. He talked about how the long hitters do have an advantage on some of the par-4s, where they can hit a shorter iron into the green. But he also said the shorter guys have the advantage of being able to run their shots down the fairway, which is how guys like Tim Clark and Zach Johnson have found themselves on the leaderboard.
- "This golf course allows us to play it in many different ways. It's not limited to one style of play."
4:12 p.m.: Phil Mickelson is in Trouble. (Hence the capital T.) He is now 7-over through seven holes today. Heard on press row:
- "You've got to wonder if a guy like Mickelson will pull an Andre Agassi and head out of town early if he knows he's not going to win."
Reminded that, first of all, Mickelson doesn't have that rep, at least in the majors, and secondly, he's gotta be around on Sunday night to give someone a green jacket anyway, that notion was quickly dismissed.
4:17 p.m.: Great note from a fellow writer in press row about Paul Casey. Telling a story Paul told him when he was writing a feature piece on the Brit a few years back, the writer revealed that Casey has always liked going low more than he liked playing golf. Here's more:
- "When he was younger, he used to tee off the first hole and if he made a bogey or didn't play well on the first few holes, he'd just go back and start all over again. His coaches were trying to get him to stop thinking like this and it got so bad that at one point he said, I'm just going to walk into pro shops around the country and say, 'Hi, my name is Paul Casey. Would you like your course record broken today?'"
By the same token, when Casey first got a BlackBerry, he used to have contests with a friend for high score on the game Brickbreaker. If Casey messed up near the beginning of a game, though, he would just start over.
I don't believe they'll let him head back to the tee and start over again here at Augusta National over the weekend.
4:28 p.m.: Here comes your U.S. Open champion. Geoff Ogilvy has just gone out in 3-under 33, tying for the second-best front-nine of the round (with Paul Casey), right behind Jerry Kelly's 32.
4:40 p.m.: A question to which there is no answer, from e-mailer Victor in Washington, D.C.:
- Why does the "leaderboard" include the name of every player? I understand that the full field's results are interesting, but at what point do you stop calling it a "leaderboard" and start calling it an "everybodyboard"?
4:44 p.m.: Our first Dredge Report of the day: Wales' own Bradley Dredge is even-par and playing the final hole. He's easily the least well-known guy on the leaderboard. Uh, everybodyboard.
4:47 p.m.: Tim Clark just finished his round of 71 with a par for the ages. Clark rolled one in from off the green, maybe 40 feet or so, to preserve his spot at 2-under. As Nick Faldo said, that putt "covered up a multitude of sins."
You make one of those against your buddies on 18 at the local muni, you'll be collecting some cash.
4:51 p.m.: Retief Goosen, Fuzzy Zoeller and Brett Quigley are among those rooting for Zach Johnson to drop a stroke over these final four holes (and for no one else to get to 3-under). Since anyone within 10 of the leader makes the cut, those players at 8-over would love to see a big red "2" gracing the top of the leaderboard. For Fuzzy, it would be his first made cut here since 1998.
4:59 p.m.: DFL update: Casey Watabu follows birdie on 13 with a double on 14. He's one clear of Seve with four to play ...
5:02 p.m.: Now here's a well-researched e-mail by the coolest named reader I've seen all day, Roscoe Coltrane:
- With Seve Ballesteros in the clubhouse at +22, Camilo Villegas at +21 and Hideto Tanihara at +20, there's a real chance that every number between +22 and -3 could be covered at the end of today's round. I'd bet that 26 consecutive numbers covered would be the all-time Masters record. Just to give you a rooting interest among the bottom-feeders' scores, I'll tell you that the numbers that still need to come in to reach this bit of history are: -3, -1, +9, +16, +18 and +19.
And poor Mr. Watabu could actually stretch that to +23, should he -- gasp! -- make a few more bogeys coming in.
5:06 p.m.: Tim Clark in Butler Cabin, trying to explain how a short hitter can prosper on a long course:
- "I try to get it in the fairway most of the time. I can't play at most of these flags. ... So it's just a case of making a lot of pars.
He also confirmed what I wrote about earlier, that the closer the scores are to par, the better the chances for a short hitter.
- "If the par-5s are playing tough, then that favors me, because I can't get it there anyway."
5:11 p.m.: Since there's a good chance he'll be our Masters Tournament leader entering the weekend, here are some facts on Zach Johnson, in case you're wondering who this guy is:
• Birthdate: Feb. 24, 1976.
• Birthplace: Iowa City, Iowa.
• Education: Drake University (Business Management/Marketing)
• Special Interests: Movies, all sports, downhill skiing, relaxing with friends, University of Iowa athletics.
• PGA Tour victories: 1 (2004 BellSouth Classic).
5:15 p.m.: Been meaning to get to this issue for a while; now that the leaders are almost done, we can make a more calculated guess. From e-mailer Bob:
- I'd say at this point we're looking at 4 to 6 under as a winning score.
If someone gets to 6 on Sunday evening, they can size him up for a green jacket, because that'll win this thing. I think 4 should do it, too. Tell you the truth, any of the leaders right now -- and Zach Johnson has just bogeyed, meaning there's a five-way tie for first place -- could probably play the next 36 holes in even-par and win the tournament. That's right, 2-under 286 could win. It would be the highest winning score since Jack Nicklaus equaled that in 1972.
5:22 p.m.: And for the record, yes, about 10 seconds after I posted the Zach Johnson info, he dropped a shot. The jinx continues ...
5:26 p.m.: The Silver Cup is Richie Ramsay's to win or lose. The low amateur to make the cut wins the award every Masters and with the other four ams -- John Kelly, Julien Guerrier, Dave Womack and the mighty Casey Watabu -- far off the pace, Ramsay will take it as long as he can hang onto his current position (or at least only lose one or two strokes coming in). The U.S. Amateur champ is currently 6-over for the tournament with eight holes left to play.
5:32 p.m.: My spies are on the lookout again. Watching Phil Mickelson, who like his playing partner Ramsay is 6-over, on the 11th hole:
- "He hit his drive in the left trees, then it appeared that he tried to punch out and left it in there. Then he called for a ruling and it appeared he got a drop, but can't be positive. We'll have to see after they post his score."
Whatever the case, it appears Mickelson is going to be scrambling to make the cut down the stretch.
5:37 p.m.: Ouch. These are gonna sting for a while: Vaughn Taylor just made bogey on 18 to finish with a 72 for the day and 1-under total, while Zach Johnson bogeyed 17 to slide to 1-under as well.
5:44 p.m.: Haven't mentioned Ernie Els at all today. After starting with a birdie at the tough first hole, he's bogeyed four of the last 12 and stands at 9-over with five to play. Looks like the cut line will be 8-over, which means even Ernie's daughter -- the one who played a student who counted up to 3-under par in that TV commercial -- can figure out that he needs to play the final stretch in under par.
5:51 p.m.: Good observation from one of the spies:
- Speaking of Gators who gagged, look at Camilo Villegas' line for two days. Spiderman played like Lois Lane.
Villegas is down in Ballesteros/Watabu territory this week. He shot 80-85. Here's the ugly breakdown for two days: three birdies, 12 bogeys, four doubles and just to top it off in style, a quadruple-bogey on No. 18 today.
Chris DiMarco, meanwhile, shot 75-78 to finish at 9-over, missing the cut by one stroke.
6:16 p.m.: Barring a total collapse from Phil Mickelson late in the round -- and we know a Mickelson collapse could never happen -- it looks like the defending champ will make the cut. And, really, if he pars out and finishes at 6-over, he's far from out of it. In fact, at eight shots back, I'll say he still collects a top-20 finish this week. A 4-under 68 tomorrow would put him right back into the mix.
Let me take that one step further: I'll go as far as to say that nobody is out of contention entering the third round. I still believe there's a number out there and with some inexperienced major contenders at the top of the leaderboard, two good scores -- even from a guy at 8-over -- could mean something.
6:21 p.m.: I wasn't there, but I'm guessing Vijay Singh was asked after his round what he thought of the leaderboard. Some reporter likely wanted to get a quote about what it means to be contending against the likes of Brett Wetterich, Zach Johnson and Vaughn Taylor. Instead, they were treated to this:
- "They are so big, if you don't see them then you have to be blind."
That's Singh's official take on the leaderboard and you know what? He's got a good point there.
6:24 p.m.: Good point from e-mailer Liz:
- I'm baffled by the relative Masters' youth atop the leaderboard, since experience is such a big deal at Augusta. I half expect things to shift by the end of the weekend. Besides, they're barely two rounds through -- it's anybody's game.
That is a good point. And expect experience to prevail on the weekend, where some of the younger guys will see pin placements they've never seen before. That's good news for the likes of Vijay Singh, Padraig Harrington, Stuart Appleby, Jim Furyk and, yes, even Tiger Woods.
6:30 p.m.: On that note, I'm outta here. I fell about 700 words short of the 10,000-word goal, but hey, it's only the second round. Gotta save something for the weekend. Thanks for the e-mails. I'm off to crash the Champions locker room again!
Jason Sobel is ESPN.com's golf editor. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com.