When the 51 golfers who made the cut in the 2014 Masters Tournament tee off on Saturday morning they’ll be playing in groups of two instead of three, but even though the size of the field has been reduced, the drama will more than double on the day they like to call “moving day” at Augusta National. It is a day in which some players will make a move and others will simply hold on for dear life.
There will be intrigue and drama up and down the leaderboard even before leader Bubba Watson tees off along with Australian John Senden at 2:45 ET. Watson finished play on Friday with a three-shot lead and it is probable his lead will be reduced by the time he blasts his drive down the first fairway. Look for these story lines at the Masters Tournament on Saturday.
Watch for Bubba Watson to stay in control. After his 69 on the opening day on Thursday, Watson said his goal was to “hit greens.” He has obviously stuck to that plan in building his lead, but hitting greens is even more important as they head to the weekend. Watson is an emotional player, admitting that he walks with his head down between shots because he does not want to get caught up in the highs and lows of the fans during the action. If Bubba’s head is down, it might mean he is doing something right.
Look for a crack in 20-year old Jordan Spieth. The youngster has hung on and held it together through two rounds of the biggest stage of his young life, shooting 71 and 70 to find himself four only shots behind Watson. Young players do not usually go through an entire Masters Tournament without cracking. His journey is something to be enjoyed for as long as it lasts. His playing partner on Saturday will be defending champion Adam Scott. Whether that will add to, or ease, the pressure on Spieth remains to be seen.
Will Fred Couples hold it together for another day? Couples is the anti-Jordan Spieth. He won at Augusta National in 1992, he loves everything about the Masters Tournament and it shows. He begins play in the third round just 5 shots out of the lead. The oldest player to win the Masters was Jack Nicklaus at 46 years of age. Couples is 54 and it would delight millions if he slipped into his second green jacket on Sunday. There are other 50-somethings that made the cut too. Bernhard Langer is 57, Sandy Lyle is 56, Larry Mize is 55, Vijay Singh is 51 and Miguel Jimenez is 50.
Keep an eye on Jim Furyk. He hits the ball as straight as anyone in golf, and improved his score six shots from Thursday to Friday. He went from 74 to 68, and if he has another 68 on Saturday he could be in the final group on Sunday.
The action at the Masters Tournament begins when Rory McIlroy tees his ball up at 10:15 a.m. Saturday morning. From that time until around 7:00 p.m. fists will be raised, feet will be stomped, hands will be wrung and memories will be made. The old adage is that the Masters never really begins until the back nine on Sunday. Saturday at the Masters, though, goes a long way in deciding who will be in contention when that final nine gets underway.
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Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky