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.   

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
News
Comedian Ted Robbins collapsed on stage during a performance of Phoenix Nights Live at Manchester Arena (Rex)
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
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

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links