By Ann Liguori
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Final Notes for Friday, April 8, 2011:
The weather has been glorious. The conditions on the golf course – perfect. And there are several very interesting story lines as we head into the weekend at The Masters.
Tiger made a charge on Friday, shooting a 6 under 66, adding electricity to a tournament that looked like it was going to be dominated by a strong international field. Tiger looked like the guy who won four Green Jackets as he found his putting stroke and hit spectacular shots into the tricky greens. His charge started on the 8th hole. With six birdies in 8 holes and then one to end the day on 18, Tiger, at seven under for the tournament, is only three shots back.
21-year-old Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, leads the tournament by two at 10 under. Rory shot a three-under-69 on Friday and stayed relaxed and calm, showing remarkable maturity for his age.
The guy in second place, two shots behind? Another young man named Jason Day of Australia. Jason shot an incredible 8-under -64 on Friday in this his very first Masters appearance. That is just one short of the tournament record –a 9 under 63, shot by Nick Price and Greg Norman. And Jason Day played with McIlroy and Ricky Fowler – three exciting young players.
And even though a 21-year-old is the leader, a 51-year-old stole the show earlier in the afternoon.
Freddie Couples, the winner of the 1992 Masters, lit up the afternoon with stellar play. He shot a four-under-68, to finish at five under for the tournament.
Couples still suffers with bad back pain but he says he loves playing in The Masters so much, that he would play here no matter how much pain he plays in.
He said that some of the shots he hit today, the one off of the downhill lies on 7, 9 and 10, when he made contact and looked where they were going, were the best shots he hit all day.
Couples sunk five birdies and his only glitch was three putting on the par three 16th for bogie. He left several birdie putts out there as well and made a good putt on the last hole to save par.
With the international players dominating the first two days and with Phil Mickelson struggling the first two days, Freddie provided a lot of excitement here early on Friday afternoon.
Defending champ Phil Mickelson shot an ‘even par 72’ and is two under for the tournament. Phil has not able to find his A game in the first two rounds. And he’ll start round three, eight shots behind the leader.
The questions are: can young Rory McIlroy maintain his lead and his nerves? Can Tiger catch him and win his fifth Green Jacket on Sunday? Can 51-year-old Freddie Couples continue to turn back the clock? Who will win the 75th Masters? The most exciting weekend in golf is upon us!
Notes for Friday Early Afternoon, April 8, 2011:
American hopes are with Ricky Barnes and Freddie Couples. Matt Kuchar, starting the round at four under, can also keep American fans happy with if he shoots a magical number today.
Ricky Barnes is two behind, Freddie Couples is three back as the Americans try to catch up to Rory McIlroy, who is the sole leader at 8 under. McIlroy birdied the second hole to move in the right direction. But KJ Choi dropped back with a bogie on 11. He and Alvaro Quiros, at 7 under, are one behind.
Freddie Couples, who shot a three under 36 on the front, drained a long birdie putt on 12 but missed a makeable birdie putt on the 14th green. Couples remains at five under for the tournament, three shots back. He pulled that putt and can’t be happy about it.
Phil Mickelson birdied the tenth but bogied the 11th. He has been up and down all day and needs to light up the back to move into contention. At two under, he is six shots behind the leader, Rory McIlroy.
Notes for Friday Morning, April 8, 2011:
Co-leader Alvaro Quiro tees off at 10.41 this morning and when asked if he expected to repeat his opening round score of 7-under-65, he said “it would be stupid to think about shooting 65 again.” His previous best score at The Masters in two previous appearances is 75.
Co-leader Rory McIlroy hopes to duplicate his bogey-free 7 under 65 when he gets started at 12.42 this afternoon. McIlroy’s best round in a Major was the 63 he shot in the opening round of last year’s British Open at St. Andrews. He then carded an 80 in the second round but still finished tied for third!
Let’s see if the Americans can get in the way of the international players who are dominating the leaderboard after the first round and who have won the last three Majors.
Phil Mickelson will have to drive the ball better. He only hit 4 of 14 fairways on Thursday, the fewest out of the 99 players in the tournament. Tiger will have to putt a lot better. He needed 30 putts yesterday!
And when was the last time that Tiger was not written about on the cover of the Augusta Chronicle during Masters week?! In fact, there was no article about Tiger in the entire Friday edition. There is a picture of him on page 6, but he is hardly mentioned in the entire paper. Sign of the times and the transition of power in the game?