After the tournament was left playing catch up following a three-hour weather delay on Thursday we’ve finally reached the halfway stage of the 84th Masters.
As they say though ‘good things come to those who wait’ and after waiting an extra seven months for this year’s edition we have one heck of a treat in store for the final two days with five players sharing the lead on -9 going into the third round.
The five at the top include the world’s first, second and third-ranked golfers, Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas, the first time in Major Championship history this has happened, with the quintet then being made up by Abraham Ancer and one of our pre-tournament picks Cameron Smith.
One player though who isn’t at the business end of the leaderboard is this week’s ‘talking horse’ Bryson Dechambeau, who, as I suspected, has struggled under the microscope of all the hype this week and just snuck in for two more days of play on the cut line of Level par.
With the tournament still being behind schedule today’s groupings will again go out in three balls off two tee’s with the hope being that they can get back on track by the end of Saturday.
So let’s take a look at today’s groupings in the hunt of some value.
Firstly teeing off at 4.26pm GMT we have the three-ball of Patrick Reed, Danny Willett and Tommy Fleetwood and I am happy to side with the former Masters Champion Patrick Reed here.
Captain America arrived at Augusta in good form having finished 14th last time out and 13th in his previous start at the US Open and was fancied by many to make a good run at a second Green Jacket and so far with two rounds of 68 he hasn’t disappointed. Willett meanwhile has been far more up and down of late and while as another former Masters Champion he is not dismissed lightly he may well struggle to follow up Friday’s 66.
As for Fleetwood while there would not be many more popular winners this week the man from Southport has made a habit of starting Majors slowly, getting into contention on day two, slipping on day three before coming good again on Sunday. If he sticks true to form then, like Willett I suspect he will struggle to match Friday’s 66 and I’m happy to take the American here.
Next up for me is Hideki Matsuyama in the 4.37pm grouping with Sungjae Im and CT Pan.
Im, no doubt, will challenge for many a Major in years to come however this is new territory for him now and with it being his debut at Augusta you would suspect he may well stall over the weekend, Similarly Pan who has performed hugely impressively so far is in completely unchartered waters and you would have to think that Matsuyama, who you would expect to be right in contention come Sunday. will get the better of his playing partners today.
Finally moving forward to the penultimate group of the day and I’ll side with the world number two Jon Rahm over the world number one Dustin Johnson and the recent winner of the Zozo Championship Patrick Cantlay when they tee off at 4.48pm GMT.
For the first half of his round on Friday Johnson looked like he might run away with things however he suddenly stalled on his back nine and began to look edgy and it is just possible this might leak into his play today.
Rahm meanwhile after a slow start on Thursday has looked in complete control since, bar on one occasion on the 15th today when he ended up chipping on for par, and with this being a relatively new experience for Cantlay still I am happy to take Rahm here.
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