Masters Day 2: All eyes on Schaeffler, wind as the weekend looms

Augusta, Ga. (AP) — The weekend couldn’t come soon enough for players at the Masters, who really only had two options as the sun began to set over Augusta National and the reality of their position became clear.

They could see Scotty Scheffler in the birdie putt and wonder why more of them don’t even go.

Or they can study the weather and hope that the wind winds through the tall pines of Georgia.

Tiger Woods didn’t need to announce which group he was in.

“It’s going to be windy. It’s going to be good,” Woods said. “It’s going to be the Masters that I think the Masters committee has been looking at for many years. We don’t have that.”

We haven’t even had a leader like Schaeffler in a while. He’s got a five-shot lead, which seemed surprisingly easy to craft and, more importantly, perhaps, he has history.

Only five times in Masters history had a player taken a five-shot lead over the weekend. The last time the player took the win four times, most recently in 2015 when Jordan Spieth picked up the green jacket.

And Scheffler just has to play the kind of competitive crushing golf he’s been playing all year.

“As long as I’m committed to everything, everything should be fine,” said the Texan. “The rest isn’t really up to me.”

Such a calm attitude has made it a successful year for Schaeffler, who suddenly finds himself the No. 1 player in the world. He added two more championships to his collection after his first win in Phoenix in February, including match play in San Antonio two weeks earlier.

For those keeping score at home, that’s three wins in five tournaments.

They were good, and they were important. He paid good money and may have already made Scheffler the player of the year.

But this is the masters. The winner gets a green jacket and all that goes with it.

The pressure of the weekend can be suffocating. What seemed possible on Friday may not happen on Sunday.

Oh, and then there’s Woods, who lurks nine shots behind, but still has hope to contest. And, really, who’s going to count him, after all he’s already crossed?

“I’ve got a chance to go over the weekend,” Woods said. “Hopefully I’ll have one of those light-bulb moments and turn it on over the weekend and get it done. You’ve seen people do it with a chance to go past nine. If you’re five or six If I’m inside, going into the last nine, anything can happen. I have to get myself there. That’s the key. I’ve got to get myself there.”

They can be little more than wishful thoughts for Woods, no matter how many green jackets he’s already won (5) or his familiarity with every blade of grass on the golf course he loves most. Is.

But a man must have something. And he’s not the only one who has hope.

“He’s clearly in control of everything right now based on the past few months, so I’m not too surprised,” said Justin Thomas, who matches Scheffler’s 67. “But yeah, I’d appreciate it if he stopped going too far.”

If there’s anything that could shake Schaeffler – and with three victories in his last five it’s hard to figure out what he could be – there are three former champions who are within six shots of him.

This includes last year’s winner, Hideki Matsuyama, and 2011’s winner, Charl Schwartzell. Former world No. 1 and 2020 winner Dustin Johnson is just one shot behind.

That’s a lot of golf firepower and Augusta National is a lot of golf courses. Strange things can happen on the weekend when the wind blows, especially if the greens get too dry and the shots get too hard.

Scheffler is only in his third Masters, so he’s not going to judge history. He hadn’t even won a tournament on the PGA Tour until February.

A few early birdies by Woods, a few big roars echoing across the landscape can damage a player’s psyche.

Also, as the saying goes, nothing starts at the Masters until nine on Sundays.

“If you’re within five or six going on that back nine on Sunday, you have a chance,” Woods said. “So I just need to get there.”

A long job, sure, but what does Woods have to lose?

Remember, he shouldn’t have been here anyway.

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