Sergio Garcas great flair was on display with birdies at Augustas first three holes in his second round: I want to make sure I continue journeying that wave
If the weight of experience lurking with intent did not pose such a threat, this Masters could be characterised as a weekend chase for major number one.
Charley Hoffman, Sergio Garca, Thomas Pieters and Rickie Fowler head the event at half way on four under par. At differing ages, positions in world ranking and job victory levels, their combined major haul? Zero. Hoffman is the amaze bundle, Pieters the surly young pretender, Garca the routine bridesmaid and Fowler the shape mare. Examples can be made for each of them but, crucially, for another 25 competitors, too.
The cavalry in pursuit includes Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Adam Scott. The leaders are not likely to enter relaxation mode.
Garcas case, in his 71 st consecutive major, is without question the most fascinating. The late, great Seve Ballesteros, who lighted up Augusta National when claiming two Green Coats and triggering a European stampede on the Masters, should be celebrating his 60 th birthday on Sunday. If Garca, eternally links between Ballesteros not only on grounds of Spanish nationality but the level of mesmerising flair as demonstrated from his youth, were to predominate here, one of the great golf storylines of our time would have unfolded. The Masters does have a habit of throwing them up.
Garca returned a terrific running, of 21 opening tournament holes without plummeting a shot. On Friday he birdied Augustas first three for the first time. At the 12 th he conjured up a bunker shot from a plugged lie that he considered hands down, the best use of my job. So far, so good.
One must , nonetheless, commit strong consideration to alternative solutions outcome, the sort Garca has become ominously accustomed to. Garca has never induced much secret of his indifference towards Augusta National as a venue despite, it must be stressed, always insisting he tries his best to win here. Essentially Garca believes the Augusta set-up signifies even good hits are occasionally not properly rewarded.
Matters seemed to be conspiring against him on Friday as a scoreboard mistake entail he was awarded a seven rather than the five he did make at the 10 th. The most important thing is I knew where I stood, he mentioned. I knew I wasnt one under for the tournament, I knew I was three.
Shane Lowry reached two balls to the left and we were looking for one, we couldnt find it, we discovered the second one. We are all garbed lighting coloured pants and blue sweater, so I can see why they might have induced the mistake. But it was fine.
The number was duly revised, Garcia afterward signing for 69. It should have been better but for a lame birdie endeavor from all of 4ft on the 18 th.
Further bad news arrives for Garca from a key statistic. His third-round scoring average at the Masters is the worst of anyone in three decades, at close to 75. Perhaps if he can get through Saturday, when circumstances are predicted to be far more favourable than days one and two, even Garca himself will take his Augusta challenge seriously. Part of the intrigue around the 37 -year-old is that, for one so gifted, he never appears fully confident in his own ability.
In a lot of these hits theres such a thin line between a good shot being next to the hole and a good shot being 40 feet away and then having a very difficult two putt, Garca explained. You try to not think about those and try to be as positive as possible.
Things are happening at the moment. I want to make sure that I continue journeying that wave and go out there tomorrow and be positive, be like Ive been the first two days.
There is a parallel for Garca to draw on. Danny Willett, last years Masters champion, had claimed the Dubai Desert Classic two months earlier. It was Garca who lifted that trophy in the Middle East a matter of weeks ago. Garca is not carrying the Spanish flag alone. Jon Rahms outstanding 2017 demonstrates no sign of slowing down, the PGA Tour rookie ratify for a 70 to sit at one under par.
McIlroy was the main victims of frightful affliction on the closing hole. An apparently perfect approach shot from 140 yards reached the pin, causing the ball to bound back down the fairway. McIlroy could understandably barely disguise his fury at making a bogey from there, meaning a 73 and plus one aggregate.
The Northern Irishman has not fully kicked into gear, a fact that should give him confidence given a position within touching distance of the result with half of the Masters to play.
McIlroy has his intellect set on a big Saturday move. Im a little disillusioned with what happened at the last but these things happen and, if I can get off to a fast start tomorrow, a pair under through three, Ill be right there, he said.
There are still 36 more holes left to go, a long way in this tournament. I know what can happen, both good and bad, around this golf course.
Willett was among those to encounter the negative, with a defense that aimed on Friday at plus seven. A quadruple eight on the 1st fatally impacted on his cause.
A year ago Ian Woosnam insisted his Masters playing days were over on what recognized the 25 th anniversary of his victory here.
The Welshman , now 59, duly returned for 36 holes, his Friday 78 meaning a missed cut at 10 over par. My wife induced me come back, Woosnam mentioned. But will he or she do so again? I havent ruled it out. Wonderfully confusing.