MediaWatch: A new Big Three...for a day
On ESPN's telecast the day before, Ian Baker-Finch called the threesome of Alvaro Quiros, Jhonattan Vegas and Gary Woodland "the look of modern golf." What then is the threesome of Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Rickie Fowler?
The latter group, average age 22, was the most impressive of the 36 holes played, and were more fun to watch on Friday than the power hitters were on Thursday. Of course, television doesn't do power golf justice. And the younger generation finished play in first, second and tied for seventh, respectively.
The younger set is plenty long as well. "For a pint-sized lad he blasts it out there," Nick Faldo said of McIlroy, the 36-hole leader at 10-under par.
Bill Macatee: "Five Masters champions in the field won their titles before Rory was born, May 4, 1989: Tom Watson, Craig Stadler, Ben Crenshaw, Larry Mize and Sandy Lyle."
John Brenkus turned the focus of his Emmy Award-winning series, "Sport Science," to golf with three amusing segments on ESPN. The first two pertained to long drives and holes in one. The third, airing moments before the Masters broadcast on Friday, was on lip-outs.
"Conventional wisdom suggests players keep their approach shots below the hole to give themselves an uphill putt, especially on the slippery slopes of Augusta," Brenkus said. "But from a physics standpoint, a player's odds are actually better for making a downhill putt, because the margin of error is greater for both speed and aim. a mis-aimed putt downhill moves back toward the cup, while uphill offline putts will move away from the cup."
A quibble: The example he was using was an uphill putt that was pulled offline. Had it been pushed offline, it would have been moving toward the hole not away from it.
On this subject, we'll leave the final word to a two-time U.S. Open champion.
"With the softness and moisture still in the greens, it's easier to keep the second shots below the hole like you have to," Curtis Strange said. "You would like to putt uphill 18 times in a row."
Strange on Fred Couples again contending, at 51: "That doesn't surprise me at all. Jack Nicklaus won at 46. That's like 56 now. The players are in better condition. The equipment is a whole lot better than it was in '86. I think the senior tour has helped. They stay in the game. They stay competitive. They stay sharp. And Freddie Couples has done just that."
That was a generic answer to a specific question, this one about Couples. Is Couples, with an ailing back that prohibits him even from practicing, in better condition at 51 than Nicklaus was at 46? Does Couples play and practice, given the constraints of a chronically ailing back, more at 51 than Nicklaus did at 46? The answers are probably no and no.
Bad timing from Jim Nantz. Tiger Woods had just birdied three straight holes and was on the 11th tee.
"This man right here, Tiger Woods, rounding into form this past hour, over at 11," Nantz said, at which point Woods launched a wayward drive into the trees right of the fairway and slammed his driver into the turf.
A few holes later, Woods had an uncharacteristic response to a misguided missile. At the 13th, attempted to hit the requisite draw, failed to do so and hit it into the pine straw right of the fairway.
"Lovely," he said, choosing, for a change, a word suitable for all audiences.
Woods chose to go for green from there. "I don't believe that," Faldo said. "If there's one-millimeter slippage in your shoes or spikes this ball could go anywhere."
Woods hit it to the fringe left of the green.
"He's one of the players that still wears hard spikes," Peter Kostis said. "I think this golf course would demand those hard spikes."
"I agree with you totally," Faldo replied. "I've always found Augusta to be slippery."
On Twitter, from Ian Poulter, who made the cut: "I guess my Sunday outfit will be employed. would have been a bummer to have ironed it for nothing. can wait now."
(Photo by Getty Images)