The Masters: Scheffler, Homa, DeChambeau tied after windy 2nd round

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Max Homa played the most beautifully boring round of golf amid raging wind and endless calamity on Friday at the Masters, giving him a share of the lead with Scottie Scheffler and Bryson DeChambeau going into a weekend for the survivors.

Homa made 15 pars – they all felt so much better than that – for a 1-under 71.

Scheffler finally made his first bogey of the Masters and then a few more, but he was rock solid down the stretch for a 72, his highest score of the year. DeChambeau played the 13th hole from the 14th fairway – at one point hoisting a wooden directional sign over his shoulder as he plotted his move – and finished with a 73.

For some 12 hours, the wind roared through the pines, scattered magnolia leaves across pristine Augusta National, and blew sand out of the white bunkers and into the faces of the players as they tried to handle a beast of a course.

“Mostly what I was trying to do out there was make a bunch of pars and stay in the golf tournament,” Scheffler said, a testament to just how difficult it was.

The 60 players who made the cut at 6-over 150 are expected to get a slight reprieve, though still plenty of wind. And that weekend will include Tiger Woods.

Woods set a Masters record by making the cut for the 24th consecutive time. He had to play 23 holes – five in the morning to finish the weather-delayed first round, and then a second round in which he kept the ball in play and posted an even-par 72.

He was only seven shots behind and still very much in the tournament.

“I’m here. I have a chance to win the golf tournament,” Woods said. “I got my two rounds in.”

That’s really what it was all about – finishing, surviving.

“That was about as happy as you could be to be off of a golf course,” Homa said. “That was so hard. We got the sand shower to end our day. So it was kind of the golf course saying, ‘Get the hell out of here.’”

The average score was 75.09. Only eight players broke par, the same number of players who shot 80 or higher. Ludvig Aberg had the low round at 69.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this before,” DeChambeau said. “But what a great test.”

Homa heard some of the loudest cheers, even if they weren’t for him. He spent two days with Woods, and caught the full experience of largest galleries, all of them rising to their feet when Woods approached tee boxes, or the 15th green that he managed to reach in two.

“The memories will just be a lot of the Tiger stuff,” Homa said. “I hope to build my own come this weekend, but I fortunately think I’ve done a good enough job of playing it one shot at a time that I can’t really remember a ton of the round at the moment. I played really well, and I tried to play as boring as possible.

“I think just the view of this beautiful golf course with the sea of fans, it will be seared in my brain for a while.”

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The leaders were at 6-under 138, two shots clear of Masters newcomer Nicolai Hojgaard of Denmark, who shot a 73. Two-time major champion Collin Morikawa, one of only two fortunate souls to break par each of the first two rounds, had a 70 and was three behind.

Justin Thomas will have far worse memories. He was even par for the tournament on the par-5 15th hole, very much in the tournament. He hit iron to lay up and it raced along the turf and into the pond. That was the start of a double bogey-double bogey-bogey-double bogey finish. He shot 79 and missed the cut by one shot.

Defending champion Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy looked as though they might join him, but that was before the cut line began to move.

Rahm made a late charge for a 76, leaving him 11 shots out of the lead. McIlroy, missing only the Masters for the career Grand Slam, didn’t make a birdie for only the third time in his 56 trips around Augusta National. He shot 77 and was 10 shots back.

Homa has some experience of the grandest of stages, playing with Woods during his final British Open at St. Andrews. He was far more comfortable with Woods at Augusta National, and his game was a big part of it. Homa picked up two early birdies, one of them on the par-3 fourth when he had to hit 7-wood.

His lone bogey was on the 11th, the hardest hole at Augusta National, and he buckled down against the most extreme conditions.

DeChambeau was the only player to reach 8 under at any point with his birdie on the 13th hole that was quite the expedition. He drove right into the pines and didn’t see a clear route back to the fairway – not the 13th fairway, anyway.

So he looked to the right toward the 14th hole, even removing the sign post that he briefly carried over his shoulder – “It was probably 30 pounds, not too bad,” he said – and left himself 145 yards over the tributary to Rae’s Creek to a back right pin.

“The patrons were nice enough to move over to the side to make sure it was wide enough so if I hit an errant one, nobody would get hit by the ball,” he said. “I hit a great great shot around the corner and was able to take advantage of a pretty open entrance to the green.”

He hit it to about 15 feet for birdie and dropped two shots coming in. In those conditions, that was acceptable.

The wind was so fierce that players thought it might be called, with balls oscillating and gusts arriving without notice. As it was, the rounds took nearly six hours to play.

Scheffler hit driver and 3-iron onto the 15th green on Thursday, and driver and 3-iron just to lay up on the 15th on Friday.

“It can be three clubs different, depending on what time you hit it,” Harris English said. “Ten to 20 seconds later or earlier, it can be a totally different shot.”

Among those making the cut were three Masters champions – 58-year-old Jose Maria Olazabal, 61-year-old Vijay Singh and 53-year-old Phil Mickelson – who have combined to play the Masters 97 times.

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WILLETT OPTIMISTIC DESPITE TRIPLE BOGEY

Danny Willett was right in the mix in the second round of the Masters until taking two shots to get out of a bunker on the 18th and three putts on the green.

It added to a triple bogey that ruined a hard day of work, and his 75 put him at 1-under 215.

Frustrating? Sure. But for Willett, even playing at Augusta National might be a bigger surprise than when he won the green jacket in 2016.

Willett’s left shoulder was aching so much last September that he had an MRI, which revealed two tears along with a few cysts that had to be cleaned out. His recovery time was expected to be at least a year.

And here he is. The Masters is his first tournament since the BMW PGA Championship last September, and even then he wasn’t sure he could be playing until he got in 18 holes on Sunday.

“It will be lovely to be here on the weekend,” Willett said. “Fingers crossed it’s not pumping 50 (mph) over the weekend.”

Willett said he played five times at home last week in England, and the Sunday test at Augusta National was more about being able to hit the shots.

“As we’ve proved, we can still hit most of them,” Willett said. “But there’s still a couple that are not quite where we want them to be.”

The bunker blunders were as much a product of the wind that was sweeping grains of sand into the air. And while it’s been nearly seven months since he last competed, he looked at the body of work over 35 holes and not the triple bogey at the end of two rounds.

“Now the way you want to finish the day, but top 10 going into the weekend,” Willett said. “Press on.”

He plans to take off seven weeks after the Masters before making a full return.

HATTON’S FRUSTRATION

Tyrrell Hatton sounded as though he was about to lose his mind Friday in the Masters, and for once it wasn’t because of his own game.

Hatton was furious with having to wait on the group in front of him, and he was critical of officials for not responding sooner.

“The lads in front have been so slow,” Hatton said. “It’s pretty poor from the officials that it took 32 holes to put them on the clock. Yesterday they’d lost a hole-and-a-half, and then they weren’t any better even this morning, and then for the second round they were just brutal.”

He didn’t mention names. The tee sheet takes care of that. Playing in the group ahead were Patrick Reed, Sungjae Im and Kurt Kitayama.

“Fine for them. They’re not waiting on any shot that they hit,” Hatton said. “But for us, we stood in the fairway, we stood on the tee. It was really hard to get a rhythm.”

Hatton appreciates that gusts were nearly 40 mph and conditions were difficult. He also noted the 89-man field is by far the smallest among majors.

“It’s a small field,” Hatton said. “It’s not hard to really keep up with the group in front.”

BIG BLOWUPS

A pair of Masters champions saw their hopes end in a matter of minutes Friday morning when completing their weather-delayed first rounds.

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None was more spectacular than Jordan Spieth.

He was 2 over for his round playing the par-5 15th into a fierce wind, meaning he had to lay up. His wedge was just over the back of the green, leaving him a chip down the slope with the wind at his back. The chip kept rolling, past the flag, off the green and into the water.

Spieth went to the other side of the pond to the drop area, went long again, putted weakly and made a quadruple-bogey 9 (he also made a 9 on the 15th in the first round in 2017).

Two holes later, he missed a 2-foot par putt and signed for a 79, his worst score by three shots at the Masters.

Right behind him was Dustin Johnson, who was 1 over for the round until a double bogey from the trees on the 14th, and a double bogey with a wedge into the pond on the 15th. He shot 78.

Neither will be around for the weekend.

COUPLES TO RETURN

Fred Couples failed to make the cut at the Masters after rounds of 80-76, but the 1992 champion said he plans to play again next year.

But first, he has to get his back fixed.

“I don’t want to say it was no fun because it’s Augusta, but swinging was a chore,” Couples said.

The 64-year-old Couples, who has been withdrawing from events on the PGA Tour Champions because of his latest back trouble, had several cortisone shots last week. He even brought his physical therapist, Chad Beauchamp, from Southern California to help him out.

He knew it would be a painful experience but didn’t want to miss the Masters, so he put off plans to get an MRI until next week.

“I could play forever, but I can’t play like this,” Couples said.

EAGLE HAS LANDED

Patrick Cantlay holed out with a pitching wedge on the par-4 17th for an eagle that salvaged his opening round. And on Friday, he holed out for an eagle on the par-4 third hole.

The former UCLA and Servite High star became only the third player at the Masters to make two eagles on different par-4s in the same tournament.

Brett Ogle made an eagle on third hole in the first round and the 14th hole in the third round in 1993. Brandt Jobe made eagle on the par-4 10th in the second round and on the par-4 seventh hole in the fourth round in 2006.

Augusta National awards players a pair of crystal goblets for each eagle they made. Cantlay now has four already from this year’s Masters.

ESPN RATINGS

In a down year for TV ratings in golf, leave it to the Masters to give it a boost.

ESPN said its live telecast of the first round on Thursday averaged 3.2 million viewers. That’s the highest for the opening round since 2018, and it’s a 28% increase over the first round a year ago when it averaged 2.5 million viewers.

The first round, delayed by 2½ hours because of weather, aired from noon to just after 5 p.m. PT.

AP Golf Writer Steve Reed contributed to this story.

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