Mayhem at the Masters: Lost tempers, missed tap-ins, 6-hour rounds, Tiger Woods’ record and more

Justin Thomas had a devastating finish to his 2024 Masters.

Justin Thomas had a devastating finish to his 2024 Masters.

Darren Riehl

AUGUSTA, Ga. — As night fell on Friday at the Masters, emotions were running high.

Wyndham Clark charged through the player’s parking lot, head down, fresh off a six-hour round and a brutal missed cut. Viktor Hovland — looking exhausted, also off a missed cut — shared an embrace with his caddie. Rory McIlroy, now 10 shots off the lead, hit one ball after the next into the looming darkness, either prepping for a Saturday charge or finding therapy in the process.

It was a windy, wild day at Augusta National. Just how wild? Let’s run through 10 of the day’s wildest moments to appreciate how mad it got.

1. Tiger Woods set a Masters record.

When Woods woke up to cold temperatures and wild gusts it wasn’t clear how his 23-hole Friday would go. But his second round was a masterclass in course management, missing in the right spots and pulling off tricky up-and-downs one after the next en route to 73-72 and the 24th consecutive made cut of his Masters career. That’s a record. What’d he make of it?

“It means I have a chance going into the weekend,” he said. “I’m here. I have a chance to win the golf tournament.”

By day’s end he’d climbed to T22, just seven shots off the lead. Given Woods has played just 72 holes at a major championship just once in the last four years, that’s worth appreciating.

2. Bryson DeChambeau’s leading the Masters — with wild new irons

It would be exciting enough to see one of golf’s wildest characters — the one-of-a-kind DeChambeau — leading the Masters at its halfway point. It’s another level of insane given the story behind his irons, which only got approved by the USGA on Tuesday. Here’s how DeChambeau described it on Friday evening:

“Early Tuesday is when I finally got the full set approved and conforming,” he said. He’d practiced with them before, but ramped up his prep with the now-approved irons on Tuesday and Wednesday and decided to put them into play.

“Last week I found out that they, unfortunately — we didn’t really think it was going to be non-conforming, but they were, just the groove edge was just too sharp. Carter Rich [of the USGA] was super helpful, and I have to thank him for getting those approved and going through the right process.

“But last week, we found out literally Thursday afternoon that they were non-conforming from the USGA. And then we worked on them all over the weekend, and finally Tuesday morning we got them to where they were in a place where they were conforming and was ready to go.”

There’s a full story to be told about these irons, but to sum it up: Y’know how most irons have flat faces? These ones don’t.

3. DeChambeau picked up a sign, too.

I returned from the golf course to the media center to discover that DeChambeau, pro golf’s content king, was at it again. His sign transport was apparently cut short — I guess that’s not allowed at Augusta? — but there was plenty of good that came from it nonetheless.

DeChambeau’s take? “Yeah, I picked up the signpost. I was trying to direct people. Trying to get people to go to the restrooms or (chuckling) — I don’t know.”

He made birdie.

4. The cutline went to +6.

As the wind whipped and the course crisped up in the afternoon, scores on the closing holes went from tough to really, really tough. For much of the afternoon the cut line hovered at four over par. But then it slipped to five over and then, when Justin Thomas made double bogey at No. 18, it slipped to six. That shocked plenty of people, including Jose Maria Olazabal, who’d finished at six over some hours earlier.

“I paid dearly, I have to say. Yes, just a pity. I played really good golf today. It was just a shame that I put a bad swing on 12. As simple as that. It cost me dearly. I made a triple there. I still kept on fighting, but I think I’m going to be just a little shy of making the cut.”

Not so fast, Jose Maria! But not everyone was so lucky…

5. Justin Thomas had a heartbreaking missed cut.

There’s missing the cut and then there’s missing the cut. Thomas was even par with four holes to play — at the edge of contention — and then finished with three doubles and a bogey in his final four holes to miss the cut by one.

The fact that Thomas had a particularly painful missed cut at last year’s Masters, too, doesn’t make things any better.

6. Viktor Hovland missed a putt from like, six inches.

Want more pain? We’ve got more pain! Hovland hit a nifty pitch shot from behind the 15th green, setting up a short par putt. But when that par putt slid by he got a little hasty with the tap-in and then — ouch.

It’s one of the shortest missed putts I can remember seeing on Tour. The short three-putt proved costly, too: Hovland missed the cut by two.

7. Greg Norman’s here for the week.

He even bought a ticket! The LIV commish has caused a bit of a stir with his presence on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, when he was again spotted on the grounds. His son explained the ticketing process, Fred Couples offered his services and Norman spent some time with our Nick Piastowski. One excerpt from a story you should read:

What’s the best sandwich you had?

Norman to Davis: “What’s the one with the cheese?”

Davis to Norman: “Pimento?”

Norman to the reporter: “Pimento.”

8. Danny Willett is playing for kicks — but he’s in the mix.

Willett hasn’t played much golf recently. No competitive golf in seven months. He doesn’t really plan to return to competitive golf for another two months after this. But he decided to play the Masters — because he’s a past champion, because it’s the Masters, because why the hell not? — as he continues to recover from shoulder surgery.

Then he shot an opening-round 68. And then he was still at four under par through 17 holes on Friday, a number that would have put him T4 heading to the weekend. An 18th-hole triple bogey slowed his momentum. Still, it only slightly dampened his mood.

“One of the best fields in golf and being able to play into the weekend and be in the top 10 at the minute, and being able to go have a beer now and watch the guys battle that back nine,” Willett said. Not a bad day!

9. Zach Johnson swore in the direction of some Amen Corner patrons.

As he finished off a triple-bogey 6 on the par-3 12th, U.S. Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson got some sarcastic applause from the tee box.

“F— off,” Johnson said, in a moment that was caught on camera and quickly made the rounds on social media.

Was he swearing at the fans? Johnson apologized for the language but insisted the swear was directed at himself.

“If I’ve said anything, which I’m not going to deny, especially if it’s on camera, one, I apologize, and two, it was fully directed towards myself entirely because I can’t hear anything behind me.”

We’ll let you be the judge. (Some language in the video below.)

10. Rounds took six hours

Just over six hours, by day’s end. The final tee time of the second round went off at 2 p.m. and finished just after 8 o’clock. The sun had set. That’s wild.

Why? High winds. Firm greens. A difficult golf course. High pressure and high stakes. And, well, I asked Jon Rahm just how difficult it got by the end, and I’ll let him expand from there:

“Very. A couple times questioning myself why we were out there, especially when I got to 18 and saw the whole front of the green just full of sand. It’s rolling a little bit different,” he said. “I understand they want us to finish. I can imagine they were very close to calling it a few times, especially when we were on 11 green and we were getting those massive gusts every couple of minutes or so. It was extremely difficult.

“You just put the ball down, and it’s very close to moving. Not only that, how long did it take us to play? Over six hours to play just because they had to blow the greens in between groups, and then when you get to a group, people stepping back and back in. It’s just, again, borderline. “It was very, very close. It’s about as hard a golf course as I’ve seen in a very long time.”

Every good major championship walks that fine line between testing its players and sending them over the edge. Other players described the day as a boxing match. Rory McIlroy called it a “really tough day.” And Xander Schauffele described it as the toughest conditions of his Masters career but insisted the course played “really fair.”

That’s 10 things. I should have expanded the list. Brian Harman shot a back-nine 47! Max Homa has a chance to win the Masters! Major championship rookie Ludvig Aberg shot the round of the day! As for Scottie Scheffler? He’s turned the insane into the expected. That puts him at the top of the leaderboard — just not in this story.

He’s better off that way.

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