AUGUSTA, Ga. — They say that the Masters doesn’t begin until the back nine on Sunday. But for about 40 percent of the field, the Masters ended on the back nine on Friday. As second-round play concluded at Augusta National, the field was pared to the top 50 players and ties when the cut settled at four-over-par 148.
Some of the eliminated were expected; amateurs and sixty-something former champions can’t be expected to keep up with the best in the world. But a field this strong means that inevitably there will be some terrific golfers headed home on the weekend. Here are 10 surprising pros who missed the cut, ranked in ascending order of just how surprised we’ll be to miss them this week.
10. Bernhard Langer
What he shot: 76-76 (+8)
Surprising because: Langer is an ageless wonder. He’s the king of the Champions Tour. And he’d made three of his last four cuts here. We basically always expect to see Langer shooting 72-73 and sneaking inside the top 40 on the weekend. This time we’ll be robbed of that opportunity.
9. Fred Couples
What he shot: 75-79 (+10)
Surprising because: Like Langer, Couples is in his 60s. Like Langer, Couples won a Masters in the early 90s. Like Langer, Couples has been effectively ageless at Augusta National. But Couples’ record at Augusta is even more impressive; he finished inside the top 20 six times in seven starts from 2010-2017. Age and back problems may be catching up to him, but we’re not yet ready to admit it.
8. Abraham Ancer
What he shot: 72-79 (+7)
Surprising because: He’s the 15th-ranked golfer in the world. And because he opened with 72 before suffering to a 79 in the second round. His week cratered with double bogeys at 7, 8 and 11, sending him from the edge of contention to an early flight home. Too bad, because Ancer seems to like it here: In 2020, he played in the final group. Ultimately, a T5 at the WGC-Match Play didn’t carry through to strong play at Augusta this week.
7. Louis Oosthuizen
What he shot: 76-WD
Surprising because: Oosthuizen belongs in a slightly different category because he withdrew due to injury. But it’s certainly surprising to see the man who finished in the top 3 at three different majors last season fail to make the weekend at the Masters. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery before we get to the PGA so we can see King Louis in the mix again.
6. Bryson DeChambeau
What he shot: 76-80 (+12)
Surprising because: Just 18 months ago DeChambeau teed it up as the tournament favorite. This year he arrived injured; he suggested he was at 80 percent but that number was likely optimistic. He looked rusty and out of sorts en route to two difficult days.
5. Justin Rose
What he shot: 76-76 (+8)
Surprising because: He held the 36-hole lead here last year. Because he was in reasonable position before a triple-bogey 7 at No. 11 on Friday. And because we still expect Justin Rose to show up for the big events despite his lack of form these last couple years.
4. Sam Burns
What he shot: 75-74 (+5)
Surprising because: He won in his last start at the Valspar Championship, came in as the 11th-ranked golfer in the world and generally seems like one of the hotter players on the planet.
3. Xander Schauffele
What he shot: 74-77 (+7)
Surprising because: Schauffele finished T3 last year, has been among the most consistent major championship performers on the planet and generally doesn’t have any gaping holes in his game. Surprising because he made just one birdie in two days.
2. Brooks Koepka
What he shot: 75-75 (+6)
Surprising because: Brooks Koepka certainly hasn’t been at his peak, but still: it’s Brooks Koepka! His identity as major-championship specialist has been well-earned and well-retained, too. It was one thing when an injured Koepka missed last year’s cut. It was another altogether when he started hot with an opening two-under 34 on his first nine before playing the next 27 holes in eight over par, including three bogeys in his final five holes to miss the cut by two.
1. Jordan Spieth
What he shot: 74-76 (+6)
Surprising because: It’s Jordan Spieth at Augusta! When he plays here he tends to win or come damn close. That’s no exaggeration: Before this week Spieth had five top-3 finishes in eight Masters starts.
Spieth was in proper position through 11 holes on Friday, too, one over par for the tournament. But then he splashed two balls in the water at the par-3 12th and got up-and-down for a triple-bogey 6. He was still on the cut line heading to 18, where he found the fairway bunker, took four shots to reach the green and settled for a double-bogey 6. Those two big numbers left Spieth in an unfamiliar position: without a Saturday tee time at Augusta National.
Same here, Jordan.