The stare, the swagger, the sense that the next shot will be better than the last -- for an afternoon at least, it was all back. Maybe Tiger Woods contends through the weekend at Augusta National, or maybe he used up all his magic on Friday with his nine-birdie 66. Either way, this was proof he's still got something left in the tank.
Bogey: Conventional Wisdom
Every year they hammer home the same theories about the Masters as if it were gospel. The Par 3 winner can't win the tournament. A first-timer doesn't have a chance. While you're at it, forget about any Australians. Well, midway through, your leader board has a couple of Masters rookies (Jason Day and Rickie Fowler), the Par 3 winner (Luke Donald) and Australians Day and Geoff Ogilvy. What's next -- a 51-year-old man? Well, now that you mention it...
Birdie: Fred Couples
Another April, another Masters with Fred Couples stirring the crowd up at Augusta National. Fitting considering this is a big anniversary year. Twenty-five years since Jack won his sixth Masters? Well, yeah, but it's actually been one year since the 51-year-old Couples showed up at Augusta wearing those cool street shoes.
Bogey: Phil Mickelson
Fresh off a win in Houston and with reminders of his win here last year ever-present, Mickelson's mojo has been conspicuously absent the first two days, with his even-par 70 leaving him eight shots off the lead. Thanks to Martin Kaymer missing the cut, Mickelson was given another chance to ascend to the top of the world ranking if enough goes his way. But as with every other chance Mickelson has had to take the No. 1 spot, he has picked the wrong time to stall.
It had reached such a point for Tiger Woods that golf fans who don't have cable TV might have forgotten what he looked like. Not so this weekend, when Woods will be in the penultimate third-round pairing, trying to hunt down a pair of appealing young stars, with a handful of A-list players not far behind. They don't allow running at Augusta National. But are network executives permitted to do cartwheels?
Birdie: Rory McIlroy
Taking a lead is one thing. Holding on to it is another. As opposed to his second-round collapse at St. Andrews last July, McIlroy built on his opening 65 by shooting three under on the front side and then holding on over the back. Looking to become the first wire-to-wire winner since Raymond Floyd in 1976, McIlroy so far has given little reason to think he can't pull it off.
Bogey: Ricky Barnes' memory
In contention for the lead, Barnes started out Friday under overcast skies and a threat of rain. As the skies darkened on the third hole he made a discovery: He had left his umbrella in the locker room. Wilson Golf general manager Tim Clarke (Barnes is a Wilson staff player) was dispatched to retrieve the umbrella because he had the only credential that could get in the clubhouse. Note to Barnes: Making the guy who signs your check fetch your umbrella is rarely a solid career move.
Birdie: Bill Haas
Some pros "get it." Count Haas among them. Hitting a tee shot to the right side of the fairway on No. 3, Haas walked an extra 15 yards to the gallery rope to engage a four-year-old boy wearing a green Masters shirt. "Having a good day are you?" asked Haas. As the boy nodded, Haas said, "Someday maybe you'll be out here playing." The boy's parents noted, "That was so nice of him. What a wonderful man." We agree. Professional golf could use more of that.
Bogey: The lost 12th hole grandstand
Each year a favored spot among writers covering the Masters was a grandstand reserved for working press in which one could see the 11th green, the entire 12th hole, and 13th tee with little more than a swivel of your neck. If it seemed too good to be true, it turns out it was. The club removed the grandstand this year.
Birdie: Jason Day
Admittedly jealous at all the fan attention directed at playing partners Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy, Day made sure they noticed him on Friday. The 23-year-old Day's eight-under par 64 marked a second-round scoring record, and put him just two shots off the lead. Now only if we could get him to play just...a...little...bit...quicker.