Masters 2014 leaderboard: Bubba Watson leads the way after day two - Golf - Sport - The Independent

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.   

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones