Masters 2014 leaderboard: Bubba Watson leads the way after day two

The 2012 champion inverted the McIlroy experience to set the Augusta telegraph ablaze

The tenth hole at Augusta is arguably the most striking of the lot, a sweeping, tree-lined dog leg to a majestic pine clad green. Rory McIlroy would gladly see it bulldozed after it triggered another staggering back-nine collapse.

Three years after his meltdown in pursuit of victory, a double bogey late in the afternoon sent him into a tailspin that left him in danger of missing the cut. He made it, but with nothing to spare, and there was no capricious branch to blame on this occasion.

McIlroy was longer off the tee with a 3-wood than either of his playing partners with the big stick. From the centre of the fairway he over-clubbed, the ball pitched on the back of the green, caught a slope and dribbled all the way to the pine needles 50 yards from the pin.

The chip back failed to find the green resulting in a double. He was 50 yards to the good off the 11 tee but from position A failed to find the green again. Another poor chip led to a third dropped shot. Again at the par-3 12 he was closest to the pin and missed a short birdie putt.

Had enough? McIlroy had but it wasn’t over. His drive at the 13 was ridiculously good, a full 70 yards beyond his partners. This time he not only missed the green, he found a sprinkler head, which diverted his approach into the rockery behind the green.

McIlroy had given it up and hit a provisional to 20 feet. Given the day he was having the ball was bound to turn up, and when it did he was left with no option to hack out wide of the green. What should have been a big shout for eagle ended in a fourth dropped shot in as many holes.

He was now five over for his round and on the projected cut line of four over par with five to play. Who’d be a 24-year-old genius?     

All the noise was coming from Bubba Watson. The 2012 champion inverted the McIlroy experience to set the Augusta telegraph ablaze with five back-nine birdies on the spin, establishing a clubhouse lead of three over John Senden. 

It was just what the Masters needed after news from ESPN that first day audience figures collapsed in the absence of Tiger Woods by 800,000, almost a third, to two million. The sight of Watson burning up the place, not to mention talking about it afterwards, ought to have them flooding back over the weekend.

This marvellous, juxtaposed, box-of-tricks of a golfer is charged by his very nature with reconciling the polar opposites between his ears. The golf course offers some reprieve, a place of relative calm where on the good days the complications disappear. This was one such afternoon.

In the best tradition of the Western movie it was all too quiet out there until Watson strode on to the 12 tee with trigger cocked. A birdie at the seventh, given back two holes later, was hitherto his only red number of the day. Then Boom, it was Bubba time again, song breaking out all over the back nine.

The pick was the 30-foot bender from right to left at the 14. Since there are no extra marks for artistic effort that beauty was worth no more than the tap-ins that followed at 15 and 16. Watson cared little. He had not had a run like this at a major since his triumph here two years ago when he pinned four birdies together over the same sequence of holes.

A bogey at the last was perhaps understandable given the disruptive force of his turbo golf but did nothing to tarnish what was a remarkable display. Watson’s account of his round was just as entertaining, ranging from the technical details behind 9-iron that cover 180 yards before bouncing to an upbringing in Baghdad, Florida, the son of a construction worker and a mother who had to take two jobs to support his golf.

There will be a book in Sunday’s speech if he stays the course. The thrust of the message is this, after a wasted year coming to terms with being a Masters champion, the golfer that won two years ago is back.

“Obviously I was going to hang over.  Never been drunk before, but a hangover from the green jacket.  It's going to take me some time. I do everything my way. I learned the game my way. I figured it out my way. So it just takes me a little bit longer with the mental focus and drive to get back to where I am today.

“As a kid, you don't think about the bad days. You always think about the great days. So playing here at Augusta, there's a lot of people that wished they could play this tournament and a lot of people that wish they could play this tournament more than once. It's all about not focusing on the bad stuff. It's about how lucky I am to be able to play golf for a living and just keep going from there.”

Defending champion Adam Scott, who started the day one behind on three under par was back to level after just five holes. Another seven would pass before he struck back with a birdie the 12, where he posted his only bogey of the first round. Two more birdies at the par-5s 13 and 15 saw him back to three under par.

Watson’s burst was not appreciated by those seeking entry to the weekend via the ten-shot rule. That ticket was closed to Darren Clarke, whose four over total was one shot the wrong side of nirvana, leaving him clinging to the 50 and ties mechanism.

Playing partner Stephen Gallacher was safely through after returning a 72 to remain at one under par, one ahead of Lee Westwood and two clear of Ian Poulter. Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell and Phil Mickelson all went home.   

Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?