AUGUSTA Observations, random thoughts and things we learned at the Masters on Friday:
1. AMATEURS RULE
Nowadays, they rarely make the cut, much less contend. But who cares?
Inviting amateurs is one of the traditions that make the Masters unique.
It goes back to Bobby Jones, the founder of the Masters, and the winner of a Grand Slam as an amateur.
Guys such as Garrick Porteous, a 24-year-old Englishman who qualified by winning the British Amateur, and Michael McCoy, a 51-year-old from Des Moines, Iowa, who qualified by winning the U.S. Mid-Amateur, will have memories they will never forget.
“It was great,” said Porteous, who missed the cut at 12-over. “Down Amen Corner, you really can’t beat that.”
“It was a little disappointing, but it was still a nice, nice walk,” said McCoy, who shot 11-over.
2. FAN DAY
Sure, the majority of patrons are wearing hats or shirts with a Masters logo or some other type of golf-brand apparel. But some golf fans just can’t get their favorite college teams out of their minds.
The second-day leader, Bubba Watson, played golf at Georgia, and, naturally, you see a lot of Bulldogs gear. Clemson, South Carolina and Georgia Tech supporters also are well-represented.
But I have seen several Michigan hats and shirts in the galleries. Arizona, Texas, Ohio State, TCU and Florida fans also were represented.
3. THIS AND THAT
Phil Mickelson walks very gingerly when he’s going downhill – like his back hurts. ... Best seat in the house? The turtles on the edge of the pond at No. 15 on a sunny afternoon. ... If a two-on-two hoops competition breaks out among golfers, I’d take Dustin Johnson and his brother, Austin. Both have hoops experience. My next choice would Angie Watson and her husband, Bubba. She’s a former basketball player at Georgia and looks like she could still take it to the hoop. ... Doug Sanders, who was the Ian Poulter of sartorial splendor before Poulter was born, hasn’t changed his wardrobe much over the years. He was wearing bright purple – sweater, shirt and pants – on Friday.
4. SAYING AMEN
Is there any better stretch of holes than the Amen Corner, Nos, 11, 12 and 13?
The par-3 12th and the par-5 13th get most of the attention, but No. 11 might be the hardest par 4 in the world.
It is 505 yards. That used to be a par 5 at most places. When trees were added to the right of the landing area, it became one of the toughest driving holes on the course. And, there’s the pond guarding the left of the green.
No. 11 played the hardest of any hole on the course on Thursday. It gave up two birdies. Players made 52 pars, 39 bogeys, three double bogeys and one other.
5. MAJORS MOMENTUM?
Jason Dufner, who won the 2013 PGA Championship, is the only player who could have won back-to-back majors by winning the Masters. But you could forget that after he shot an 80 on Thursday.
With the exception of Adam Scott – who is in contention to win consecutive Masters – the majors winners from 2013 started the first major of 2014 with a thud.
Mickelson, the British Open champ, shot 5-over after a 76 on Thursday and a 73 on Friday. Justin Rose, the U.S. Open champ, was at 2-over.