AUGUSTA – A few things to look for during this afternoon’s third round at the Masters:
The Cool Guys’ Pairing.
If CBS doesn’t follow just about every footstep of the 2:10 p.m. pairing, the FCC should pull its license. Phil Mickelson is twice Jordan Spieth’s age, so what do these guys possibly have to talk about?
How about their combined 4 ½ Masters titles (Spieth gets partial credit for his 2016 collapse)? A great contrast lives in this group, between the guy who had to beat his head against 11 Masters before winning his first and Spieth, who fell out of the crib ready to compete here.
It is for pairings like this you give up all else on a Saturday afternoon.
The Revenge of the Baby Boom Boomer.
It is a Masters tradition like no other: Fred Couples puts up a couple stupidly low rounds here for a man his age. Really for a man of any age.
And here he is again at 57, off a Friday 70 that left him tied for sixth. Now, tradition also holds that Couples is supposed to remember his age and gracefully exit the scene during the weekend. He would need to shoot 67, though, to tie the record low 54-hole score for an over-50 player at the Masters. That record is held by someone named Jack Nicklaus, who was 58 when he shot 6 under through three rounds.
The Return of the Roars.
Except for the constant sound of the gusting wind, Augusta National has been suspiciously quiet for the first two rounds. Not a lot of excited cheers echoing through the pines. It’s been about as loud as the nursery at Home Depot.
From hole No. 1 – which played historically hard Friday – to No. 18, this place under these conditions has been very stingy. Eagles get people amped – and there have been only nine of those through the first two rounds. That’s well below the pace of 2015, when there were a record 47 for the tournament.
But the wind has abated and sun is smiling on Augusta National. Some low scores should bloom.
The Charley Hoffman Experience.
You know, your leader through two rounds is really a decent fellow. And, since he got his hair cut, he even looks much more Master-ly now than he did when he first arrived here in 2011. But how much longer can he really hang on up there with so many players of pedigree in pursuit?
Hoffman is playing in the last group Saturday with Sergio Garcia, the Spaniard known to wilt on the weekend. Which brings up a question. Which one will need an inhaler by the turn?
The Weekend when Spieth gets back his Masters mojo?
What has happened to Spieth’s Masters magic? The first nine rounds of his life here, he shot a combined 29 under, and grabbed himself a green jacket in the process. He then went 7 over in his next four rounds. Mortality just doesn’t suit him here.
Friday, he shot his first sub-par round (69) since his first round of 2016. That was more like it. But he can do better.