Five Things Learned from the 78th Masters
Augusta: Five things learned from the first two rounds of the 78th Masters at Augusta National Golf Club:
1. Don`t mess with Amen Corner: The first two holes in the famed stretch at Augusta National were the hardest on the course the first two days. The 505-yard, par-4 11th played as the toughest, surrendering only five birdies and inflicting 13 double bogeys, with the 155-yard, par-3 12th hole next hardest, giving up a stingy 17 birdies while imposing four scores above double bogey. Amen Corner`s last hole, the par-5 13th at 510 yards, was the second easiest behind the par-5 eighth but still offered plenty of woe.
2. The absence of Tiger Woods is felt: US television ratings for the first round were two million viewers, down almost 29 percent from last year`s 2.8 million. World number one Woods, a four-time green jacket winner and 14-time major champion, missed the event for the first time in his career after surgery to fix a pinched nerve and a timetable for his return to tournament play is uncertain. Woods could be dethroned by Adam Scott, Jason Day or Henrik Stenson from atop the rankings this week. But at least Tiger is watching. He tweeted of ceremonial starters Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus: "It never gets old watching the honorary starters tee off. One of the oldest and best traditions in the game."
3. Beware Masters ticket resellers: The Augusta Chronicle reports that Bruce Waggoner, 52, of Los Angeles was denied entry to the Masters with a ticket that a friend had purchased from someone at a house in Augusta. A ticket scanner told Waggoner as he tried to enter the grounds the ticket had been reported as lost and was no longer valid. Police also reportedly arrested two men who were involved in selling tickets too near Augusta National. Georgia state law allows no ticket resales within 900 yards of the venue, or basically the same distance of the last two holes on the course.
4. Leaders love the long ball: Bubba Watson, the 2012 Masters winner and 36-hole leader by three strokes, ranked fourth in driving distance at 299.25 yards off the tee, hitting 20 of 28 fairways and 28 of 36 greens in regulation. Defending champion Adam Scott, sharing third place and four back, was third in distance at 300.75 yards a drive but hit five fewer fairways and four fewer greens in regulation. South African Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open winner who lost a playoff to Watson two years ago, ranked second in driving distance at 302.25 yards. The heaviest hitter of them all? American Hunter Mahan, who drove an average of 304.25 yards but was on 146 for two rounds. He still seeks a first major victory.
5. Old age and inexperience are less troublesome: A record six players over 50 years old made the cut, with Fred Couples at 54 a threat to become the oldest winner in major history if he can find the form for four rounds. Remember Tom Watson finishing second at age 59 at the 2009 British Open at Turnberry? That`s Couples here. And 11 of 24 newcomers made the cut, three of them playing in Saturday`s last four groups in Americans Jordan Spieth and Jimmy Walker and Swede Jonas Blixt.