Australian comebacks give Masters hope
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2014 US Masters | Round Two | 12 Apr 2014
Both John Senden and Adam Scott have staged impressive comebacks on day two of the Masters at Augusta National and have created realistic opportunities to win the Green Jacket for Australia for the second consecutive year.
After his solid opening round of even par, Senden was two over par through four holes of day two but then, on a tough and demanding layout, he birdied six of his remaining 14 holes for a round of 68 to be within three of the 2012 champion Bubba Watson who himself had added a second round of 68 eighty minutes earlier.
“I just put myself in good positions and when you are in good positions you can aim at the flagstick,” said Senden after his round.
The creative genius that is Watson had been treading water until he reached the par three 12th where a magnificent tee shot led to the first of five consecutive birdies. When he walked from the 16th green and hour later he was at 7 under par and had established a four shot lead before Senden bridged the gap with his late run.
“It’s not science here,” he said after his round. "If you are hitting the greens then you are hitting your tee shots well.
“It’s been easier for me this week (not being the defending champion). The Champions Dinner was not about me and I was able to enjoy it and sit and listen to some of the stories. I was in awe when I was the champion with all the champions but this year I got to be just a bystander.
“You are asked all these questions when you are the defending champion so there is a lot of media attention and for me I didn’t know how to handle it the best way so I didn’t play my best golf last year.
“This year I came in with no media attention and changed my routine a little playing nine holes a day starting on Monday and just tried to save energy as much as i could so it was very different this year from last year.”
“I tinkered with a counter balance putter and when I made up another putter I made it half an inch over,” added Watson when asked about his improved putting. “It made my hands more relaxed and more athletic. My whole game is based off of feel and i guess I am just trying to get my putting like that. After missing all these years i am now starting to make a few.”
Adam Scott struggled early with three bogeys in his first five holes but he too would begin his charge at the 12th when his tee shot finished three feet short of the hole. A superb second at the 13th finished just off the back of the green but led to another birdie.
He two putted from the back of the green at the 14th, then two magnificent shots saw him just of the back edge of the green at the 15th and a two putt there had him back at 3 under and within four of the Watson.
Scott’s ball striking was back to its best but after an indifferent tee shot at the last he was forced to save par from the front bunker and did so for a round of even par 72 and he again finds himself very much in contention.
The Australian charge appeared as if might be led by Marc Leishman when, out early in the day, he birdied his opening three holes of round two and had the lead but a horror run from there left him with a round of 79 and one shot outside the cut line. Once again Augusta National had highlighted the fine line between pleasure and pain.
For other Australians Steve Bowditch, Oliver Goss and Jason Day however they will make the weekend with Goss already assured of the title as leading amateur as he is the only one to make the cut. Already known to the good folk at Augusta National via his exploits at the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship promoted by the Masters, the 19 year old who turns 20 on Masters Saturday will further endear himself to the game’s most prestigious golf club.
Bowditch has done remarkably well in his first look at Augusta National. Just two weeks after earning his way into the field he is in a share of 26th position and although nine from the lead is just six shots out of his fellow countryman John Senden’s second position.
Day appeared on his way out of the tournament when, after an early birdie, he double bogeyed the 3rd and bogeyed the 7th and he faced an uphill battle to get back inside the cutline. He was able to do so despite a bogey at the last but he will need something very special over the closing two rounds if he is to have any chance of replicating his most recent heroics at Augusta National.
After an encouraging opening round of 74, Matt Jones was on the back foot all day and never really looked like making the cut but coming so soon after his breakthrough victory on the PGA perhaps it was all a little too much too soon. He will be better for the experience and if he can get back to the masters in the future he will be that much better for the experience.
Watson leads by three with another one shot back to Scott, Thomas Bjorn, Jonas Blixt and Jordan Spieth.
Another one shot sees Fred Couples, Jim Furyk and Jimmy Walker in a share of 7th place.
It is an eclectic mix of the old and the new the Augusta National experienced and inexperienced.
There is a storyline around every corner and the final 36 holes can’t come soon enough.