Round two of the 83rd Edition of the US Masters is now complete and we find ourselves with arguably the best-looking leaderboard we have seen at the half way stage of a Major Championship for many a year.
Going into day three there are fifteen players within three shots of the lead with five tied at the top, and all of these five – Molinari, Day, Koepka, Scott and Oosthuizen – are past Major Champions.
So, with a mouth watering round three in prospect lets see if we can pick out some value in today’s two ball pairings.
The first pairing to catch my eye is that of defending champion Patrick Reed and former US Open Champion Webb Simpson.
I have been against Reed so far this week, however all credit to him, when his back was against the wall yesterday and he was starting to flirt with the cut line, he produced a really strong bogey-free back nine of 34 to comfortably make the weekend.
Simpson, as I stated yesterday has never been at his best at Augusta and after a decent start to his second round he, conversely to Reed, stalled on the back side.
With the pressure now off Reed as defending to champion to make the weekend he may well ‘free wheel it’ and I am happy to side with him here at even money in their 4.55pm UK tee time.
Teeing off at 6.25pm UK time we find day one leader Bryson Dechambeau and Justin Thomas and to me at a shade of odds on Justin Thomas has to be the bet here.
After a slow opening to the tournament Thomas compiled a really strong round of 68 yesterday to get himself in to the fringes of contention, while ‘The Scientist’ struggled to back up his day one heroics and laboured to a 75.
You have to think that the pair will come into Saturday in vastly differing frames of mind and allowing for his greater course experience and Major Championship experience I would expect JT to be the one of these two to push on from here.
At 6.45pm UK Time we have the pairing of Matt Kuchar and Phil Mickelson and I am more than happy to take Mickelson on here for the second day running.
Kuch has not been his normal model of consistency so far this week and if you looked at his scorecards from his first two rounds and saw the amount of bogeys alongside his two eagles and seven birdies you would be forgiven for thinking they were actually Phil’s.
The fact remains that he is a top ten machine and he has been under par on both of the first two days, shooting 69 yesterday, and you would be very surprised if he doesn’t shoot something today that leaves him on the fringes of contention.
In contrast after his fast start on Thursday Phil looked pretty ragged yesterday and hit only seven fairways on his way to a 73. We have seen enough of Phil over the years to know anything can happen, however Even money Smiley Matt is the play for me here.
As already mentioned the last three groups out see six former major champions paired together and anyone of these six could produce something special today and potentially separate themselves from the field.
Allowing for the class on display I feel the value play here has to be to look towards the outsiders in these pairings and the one that I feel most drawn to for my final selection of the day is Adam Scott versus Brooks Koepka in the penultimate tee time of the day at 7.35pm UK Time.
Scott has looked incredibly solid over the first two days shooting both rounds in the 60s and his putting stroke and stats have been rejuvenated since the change of rule to allow the flagstick to be kept in. Koepka meanwhile looked uncharacteristically edgy yesterday on his way to a battling 71.
To me this two ball really is a toss of a coin. My hunch though is towards the former Masters Champion Scott and I’m happy to side with him at 13/10 here.