"Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel"

My new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" is the follow-up to "Illegal Procedure" and "Roughing the Passer" and is now available in print and in e-formats at amazon.com, smashwords.com and iBooks. Follow me on twitter @kevinkrest.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

MASTERS MUSINGS

Earlier this week I listed my choices for Augusta and I had twenty-one year old Jordan Spieth at the top. After 36 holes, he holds a commanding five shot lead heading into the weekend after shooting a record 130 for the first two rounds. But if history tells us anything, it's that the tournament hasn't even started yet. In fact, the saying is that it doesn't begin until the back nine on Sunday and it remains to be seen what kind of drama we'll see tomorrow afternoon. Will someone put up a low score and challenge Spieth? Can the young phenom keep his foot on the gas and break Tiger Woods' 72 hole record 18 under par 270? Is it possible for someone back in the pack to make a run if Spieth stumbles in his bid to join Tiger and Rory McIlroy as young, dominant major winner?

Obviously, no one know the answer to those questions, which is why this tournament is so riveting. For every Raymond Floyd in 1976 and Woods in 1997, there's a Greg Norman in 1996 or a Curtis Strange in 1985. Norman's final round collapse, which resulted in Nick Faldo erasing a six shot lead in the final round to win by five, tends to overshadow Faldo's 67 on Sunday. Strange had to come back from an opening round 80 and eventually stepped on the thirteenth tee in the final round with a three shot lead. But while Strange was bogeying the two critical par fives coming home, Langer birdied them to win by a pair of shots.

If Spieth does come back a bit, there's no shortage of firepower waiting in the wings. Charley Hoffman, a solid player, doesn't really generate the same buzz that Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson, Paul Casey, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els do. Of that group, Rose stands out because he's won a major and still hasn't reached his 35th birthday. But Mickelson could really make some noise as a three time Masters champ if the tournament is still in doubt on the back nine on Sunday.

Down farther on the leaderboard are a few other interesting stories. Tiger Woods followed up an opening round 73 with a solid, but unspectacular 69 on Friday. His short game looked back in shape as it saved his round on Thursday. With only a birdie on the eleventh hole during his back nine, he could have gone a bit lower yesterday. Can he erase a deficit of a dozen shots on the weekend? It's unlikely, but it really depends on how young Spieth handles the big lead. Woods is paired with Sergio Garcia today. The charismatic Spaniard is still looking for his first major championship, and it will even be tougher being paired with Tiger. These two guys have some, to put it mildly, interesting history. It will be fun to see how they handle playing together this afternoon.

Top ranked Rory McIlroy did something I really hadn't seen him do in the past by grinding out a back nine 31 after going out in 40 strokes and putting himself in danger of missing the cut. He tees off today tied with Woods and Garcia at -2, having to go low for 18 holes to get back in the hunt. He impressed me greatly by staying in the tournament instead of packing it in and heading home. That back nine may serve him well in the future if he finds himself in contention at some point.

Tom Watson, who shot a 71 in the first round, blew up to an 81 including a triple bogey 7 on the last hole on Friday. It appears that his run in majors, especially the British Open and the Masters, is finally over at the age of 65. He can still exhibit flashes of brilliance, but just like Palmer and Nicklaus before him, father time eventually wins out.

J.B. Holmes, who looked like a contender after winning at Houston last week, holed an incredible chip shot on the eighteenth hole yesterday, but came up a shot short in his bid to make the cut. Luke Donald will once again fail in his bid to get his elusive first major win. His opening round 75 was just too much to overcome and his realistic chances at major victories are beginning to dwindle.

What stories await this weekend? It's impossible to know, but regardless of what happens, the golf world will be glued to the action in Augusta, Georgia.


Don't forget to check out my new book, "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords.