Perched in a great spot on 'Moving Day'
Day six at the Masters and unfortunately not a day when George would be taking part in the third round of the tournament. We all went through the whole range of emotions, watching the end of the second round on Friday. With George closing on +5, it was always going to be touch and go as to whether or not he would make the cut.
I watched the end of the second round with George, back at the rented house, and it was difficult being with him when it was confirmed that he had missed the cut, with it being made at +4. As it was his first Masters, my heart went out to him, particularly as it was only one shot, leaving George to mull over some of the silly bogeys he made over the two rounds. Nonetheless, we went out for dinner and discussed his first Masters, and I think that George can hold his head high, particularly as he didn’t have his best game with him, most noticeably off the tee. And he only missed the cut by one. You just need to look at some of the guys contending, such as Fred Couples and Angel Cabrera, to know that it really is a course that is easier to play, the more times you play it. I mean, Cabrera hasn’t really been heard of since he won here in 2009, and Couples plays on the Champions Tour for seniors.
George was so close, and when Tiger went into the water at 15, I thought he was safe, due to the fact that he needed to be within 10 shots of the leader to qualify for the weekend. But Jason Day birdied the 16th, and that pushed George out by a shot. I must be honest, I felt the same way I felt in the 1999 Cricket World Cup and the 1999 Rugby World Cup – done in by an Aussie!
With George not playing, round three saw me go in search of the other South Africans in the field, and I picked up Richard Sterne round the turn, and managed to get some of Tim Clark, who obviously had one of the rounds of the day with a 67. It was great seeing that, and even though Tim doesn’t hit the ball very far, he has a good record here, with a second place a couple of years ago.
I thought that some of the pins were fairly accessible, but then some of them weren’t, with very few birdies at 15 and 16, with Tim’s birdie at 16 being all the more impressive. Saturday at the Masters is referred to as ‘Moving Day’, but it doesn’t appear as if anyone has really made a move, with Snedeker and Cabrera leading on -7. So, still plenty of guys in with a chance of winning.
I decided to perch myself down by the 16th tee, which meant I could get a good look at this famous par three, as well as the 15th fairway and green, the 17th tee and the sixth green. It really is a beautiful part of the golf course, looking across the lake to the 16th green, and I managed to soak up the atmosphere, which was great. I got chatting to a father and son pair, who have been coming to the Masters for 45 years! They had some great stories for me, including telling me about the famous Jack Nicklaus birdie at 16 in 1986 and Charl Schwartzel’s birdie in 2011. They also talked about Trevor Immelman’s win in 2008 and how they thought the conditions that year were the toughest they’d ever seen, with the wind blowing like it did.
Obviously, the big talking point on Saturday was the two-shot penalty handed to Tiger Woods, for dropping his ball in the incorrect place on the 15th hole in round two, after he had hit his ball in the water. The players I spoke to didn’t really want to comment, but there seemed to be an overall split down the middle, in terms of those who felt he should have been disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard, and those who thought the two-stroke penalty was fair. I also spoke to people in the stands, and the overall feeling I got from them was that he should have been disqualified, and that he would have got some credit from the patrons, if he’d sat out.
What was interesting was that the Masters officials investigated the incident while Tiger was playing the 18th in round two, and decided that he hadn’t gained any significant advantage. But then Tiger did an interview after his round, saying that he had purposefully dropped his ball two yards back from the original spot. That’s when they decided on the two-shot penalty.
All in all, a lovely day and if you ever get to the Masters, I can recommend the spot I found myself in, behind the 16th tee.
It’s all set up for a cracking final round.