Whole-in-one: Saturday, April 7
By Conor Nagle under The Masters

Wait, come back!

A production in two acts, Friday at Augusta National began with an energetic performance from 52-year-old Fred Couples and ended with the troubling spectacle of a former great casting about in vain for inspiration.

  • Fred Couples’s ritual trolling of the Masters faithful began in earnest yesterday with a best-of-the-day 67. Doesn’t he do this every year? The 1992 champion animatedly stressed the importance of calm in post-round interview:

“I don’t feel too much stress… Now obviously there’s stress out there. I’m not — what I’m getting at is when you’re playing here, I’m not going to let too many things bother me. It’s so beautiful. You can’t say it’s your favorite place and then break a club on the fourth hole on Saturday.” [ESPN]

  • Tiger Woods shot 75 on Friday, a score that looked – and arguably felt – more destructive than it actually was. Less a round of golf than a six-hour pychodramatic odyssey, it cast the former world No1’s recent PGA Tour renaissance in more muted light. From a transcript of partially coherent Nick Faldo commentary that was – bafflingly – published as news:

“He’s running on sheer frustration right now. There was the Tiger of old, but over the last couple of years things have changed technically, physically and mentally – the whole karma of his life.” [Telegraph]

  • Golf’s most inscrutable and volatile talent, Henrik Stenson, returned to the 18th hole – scene of yesterday’s crime against course management, a quadruple-bogey 8 – yesterday evening and recorded the most improbable of birdies. Only after a double-bogeying the 17th, of course. The Swede is battling a cold:

“I’ve probably got more Vitamin C in me than an orange factory. I had a bit of a sore throat, achy body and a little bit of a fever so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was pretty pleased.” [Augusta Chronicle]

  • Northern Ireland’s Masters champion-in-waiting, Rory McIlroy, broke par in convincing fashion on Friday and vaulted himself into a share of third place overnight. Cautiously optimistic, the 22-year-old described himself as “better equipped” to handle life at the summit of a major championship leaderboard than last year:

“I grew up watching this tournament on TV, and it’s like this sacred ground. The first time you get here you’re scared of taking a divot out of the fairway. But now it’s just one of the places we come to play, and it’s a great honor to come back here and play, but I think definitely every year you get a little more comfortable.” [USA Today]

  • The afternoon starters averaged rounds of nearly 6 hours yesterday. Diane Donald, wife of Luke and convert to the Church of Fast Play, took to Twitter to voice her disapproval:

Conor Nagle