Friday, April 9

Of Poulter, Pin Placements and Pairings

WHAT LOOKS GOOD WITH a Green Jacket? That’s a question that was posed to Ian Poulter after he finished his second round at the Masters. “Anything,” he said. Poulter shot 68 and is tied for the 36-hole lead at 8 under with fellow countryman Lee Westwood who had a 69.

Poulter could do it. So could Westwood. But even though they’re battle tested and formidable Ryder Cuppers, neither of the Brits has won a major, much less a Green Jacket. There’s nothing they would like more. They’re halfway home, but the tougher half starts on Saturday and the owners of six Green Jackets—Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson—are in close pursuit. Woods is apparently rust-proof and Phil hearts Augusta.

The group of five golfers two strokes behind Poulter and Westwood at 6 under are: K.J. Choi (71), Woods (70), Anthony Kim (70), Ricky Barnes (70) and Mickelson (71). Y.E. Yang (72) is at 5 under. First-round leader Fred Couples and Tom Watson, who both struggled on Friday, are five off the lead at 3 under.

The weekend weather is supposed to be lovely, so the men who pull the levers at the Masters and Augusta National will have maximum control of the course setup. The course will play more difficult on Saturday—firmer and faster with harder-to-get-to pin placements. The greens will be slicker and not hold as well. It should make for a typical Masters moving day. There will be few scores in the 60s. (There were only three scores in the 60s today. Poulter’s 68 was Friday’s best.)

When Phil nearly slam dunked his long birdie putt on the 18th green, CBS’s Jim Nantz mentioned that Phil would have been paired with Tiger had the putt dropped. I think it works out better for Tiger. He doesn’t need fan-favorite Phil as a distraction, although it would have been great for fan interest and TV ratings. Instead, Tiger will make his third consecutive trip around Augusta with Choi, which strikes me as a comfortable pairing for both golfers. The Poulter-Westwood pairing is also fortuitous. The two are friends and that’s bound to help as the pressure builds. I expect one or both of the Englishmen to still be at or near the top of the leaderboard on Saturday night.

Whether or not you picked someone to win before the tournament started, who do you like now?

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: John Trainor/Flickr)


Vince Spence said...

Other than Faldo, there has not been an Englishman in the winners circle at a major since Tony Jacklin in 1970. That tradition will continue.

I hate saying it will be Tiger or Phil. So, I'll say it will be Phil or Tiger.

I'm one funny dude, hunh...???

Travelling Golfer said...

Poulter or Westwood will win on the 30th anniversary of Jacklin's feat that was fit for a Queen ;-)

Mike said...

As I'm writing this, Heath Slocum is -5 on the day, -4 for the tournament. If he can finish the day at -6 for the tournament... this has been a crazy Masters. Is anything impossible right now?

Tom Collins said...

Almost 3 eagles in a row by Phil yesterday? I know the guy can get hot, but jeez...this is supposed to be Augusta, people.

The Armchair Golfer said...

You were right, Vince. Nice win for Phil. Westwood hung in there pretty well.