A second nine on Saturday morning worked out OK for Jon Rahm.
Rahm, who trailed Brooks Koepka by three strokes when play in the 87th Masters Tournament was called for the day on Friday afternoon, moved a touch closer to the 36-hole leader as the weather-delayed second round was completed in cool, wet weather. The third round began at 11:30 ET Saturday, with three-player groupings going off Nos. 1 and 10.
The Spaniard, the world’s No. 3 player and the PGA Tour’s only three-time winner this season, had a 1-under 35 on Augusta National’s second nine in the challenging conditions to shoot 69 for a 36-hole total of 10-under 134.
Rahm will go into the final 36 holes in second place, two behind Koepka (65-67—132). The leader’s 12-under total matches Greg Norman (1996) as the third lowest in Masters history, after Jordan Spieth (14-under, 2015) and Raymond Floyd (13-under, 1976). Rahm is trying to become the fourth player from Spain to win a Green Jacket. It is Rahm’s second-best position at the halfway point in seven appearances; he led in 2020 before going on to tie for seventh, one of his four top-10s at Augusta National.
With the temperature in the high 40s and precipitation increasing from drizzle to downpour, 38 golfers – Louis Oosthuizen withdrew before the 8 a.m. resumption – completed the second round.
Koepka and Rahm created some separation between themselves and the rest of the field. Amateur Sam Bennett, who completed his second straight 68 Friday, is in third place at 136, followed by Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland at 138. Spieth, Jason Day, Sam Burns and Cameron Young are another stroke further back.
“It’s tough,” Hovland said. “You know that nothing’s going to be given to you and you’re going to have to hit good shots upon good shots upon good shots. You’re still going to have to make some putts and chip the ball because no one’s going to hit every green out here today. It makes for a very scrappy game.”
Young, runner-up in The Open Championship last year, was at 7-under before making a double bogey on the 17th hole as the rain began pelting down. The New York native had birdied three holes offset by a bogey on the 13th hole prior to the big number on the 17th.
Playing in the same group, Rahm had quite a different fortune on No. 17, holing an 18-footer from the fringe for his third birdie against one bogey on his second nine. Rahm sank a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 12 and holed a 4-footer for 4 on the par-5 15th hole. Bogeys on Nos. 16 and 18 were Rahm’s only blemishes since a double-bogey 6 on the first hole of the Tournament.
The 36-hole cut came at 3-over 147, with 54 players advancing to the last two rounds. Five-time champion Tiger Woods, who played seven holes Saturday morning, bogeyed the last hole to shoot 73 but made the cut on the number. Fred Couples, 63, completed his second round, shooting 71-74–145 to become the oldest golfer to ever make the Masters cut, surpassing Bernhard Langer.
Despite struggling as play resumed, Justin Thomas was in good position to qualify for the rest of the weekend but bogeyed three of the last four holes, shooting 78 after a second-nine 42.
Woods, Grinding in the Rain, Makes the Cut
Tiger Woods secured a piece of Masters history when he resumed his second round in steady rain Saturday morning. He also revisited a Masters nightmare from years past and dramatically changed the script.
All in all, it was an eventful two hours of play that saw Woods play seven holes in 1-over par, good enough to finish 36 holes at 3-over 147 to make the cut. It’s the 23rd straight cut Woods has made, tying Gary Player and Fred Couples for the most in Masters history.
Though he drove it wide right at 17 and miles left at 18 to finish bogey-bogey, Woods let it be known that securing a spot in the field for the final 36 holes mattered greatly to him.
“I’ve always loved this golf course and I love playing this event,” said the five-time Masters champion, who made his debut as an amateur in 1995 and recorded an epic triumph in his first year as a pro in 1997.
“Obviously, I’ve missed a couple with some injuries (2014, 2016-17, 2021), but I’ve always wanted to play here. I’ve loved it.”
With rounds of 74-73, he’ll get his wish as Woods finished 36 holes inside the cut, tied for 49th and one of 54 players to advance. He’ll start the third round 15 strokes behind the leader, Brooks Koepka, and he’ll likely continue to play a lot of golf in the sort of inclement weather he faced Saturday morning, but Woods was upbeat to know he was still playing.
Not that the morning was all positive. On a day that saw him pass the test at his opening hole, the always nerve-wracking par-3 12th (“It was a good tee shot. It was 145. Then I hit a terrible putt.”), Woods had flashbacks to a frightful memory from the 2013 Masters when he got to the par-5 15th.
Just as he did 10 years ago, Woods was deadly accurate with his third shot into the 15th green in Round 2. But unlike in 2013, “at least it didn’t go in the water this time when it hit the flag,” he said.
It was raining and it was cold, but Woods actually had a smile on his face, proof positive that his flagstick-rattling shot had a better result this time around: he drained the 27-footer for birdie, which proved to be the margin of difference between making or missing the cut.
For historical purposes, the flagsticks were in different positions. In 2013, Woods’ third shot hit the flagstick that was in the back left portion of the green and caromed back into the water. He took a drop, hit his fifth shot on the green and made the putt for bogey, but was later assessed a two-stroke penalty for an illegal drop.
Saturday morning, the flagstick was on the right side of the green and Woods was spot on with his 90-yard third shot. That the shot stayed on the green, even if it did roll back to 27 feet, brought a sense of relief to Woods.
“Made a good putt there and then just didn’t finish very well,” said Woods.
No, he didn’t. But then again, he finished well enough to earn two more tee times in the 87th Masters.
Couples Makes Historic Cut as Some Major Names Miss
Fred Couples had only half a hole to play in the cold mist early Saturday morning to add to his legacy at the Masters.
Having hit his drive on the 18th hole Friday afternoon when play was suspended for the day because of inclement weather, Couples returned to Augusta National to complete his second round at 8 a.m. He struck a 3-wood from 220 yards that went 179 yards in the cold air and against the wind. He pitched on and two-putted for bogey to finish at 1-over par through 36 holes and become, at 63 years and 183 days, the oldest player to make the cut in Masters history.
“I played really well the last couple days,” said Couples, who shot 71-74, to elude the cut by three. “I’ve said the word ‘really’ a lot of times. I enjoy the place.”
For a number of the 39 players who had to finish their second round on Saturday, including Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas and Sungjae Im, the adverse conditions added to the challenge of making the cut. The Masters cut is top 50 plus ties, and 54 players advanced to the final two rounds.
Masters champion Fred Couples plays from the No. 18 fairway during the resumption of the second round at the 2023 Masters.Logan Whitton/Augusta National
Woods started the day at 2-over with seven holes to play. He birdied the par-5 15th to earn some breathing space and, despite bogeying 17 and 18, made the cut on the number at 3-over 147. He has now made 23 consecutive cuts, dating back to his first Masters as a professional in 1997, when he won his first Green Jacket.
Thomas began at 2-under with nine holes left, but he shot 42 on the second nine to miss the cut by a stroke. It is the first time in eight Masters that he won’t play the final two rounds.
Im, who finished tied for runner-up as a Masters rookie in 2020 and tied for eighth last year, sank a 5-foot putt for par at No. 18 to make the cut after going 4-over on the 10 holes he completed Saturday.
The most notable player to miss the cut was four-time major champion Rory McIlroy, who followed up a first-round 72 with 77 on Friday to finish at 5-over. His quest to win a Green Jacket to complete the career grand slam will have to wait another year. Among those missing the cut by one stroke were major champions Francesco Molinari and Bryson DeChambeau.
Only one amateur, Sam Bennett, who improbably sits in third place after shooting 68-68, survived the cut, securing the Low Amateur honor. He finished his second round Friday in warm, dry conditions shortly before the rain started and play was suspended. The last amateurs to make the cut were Andy Ogletree and John Augenstein in 2020.
It is fitting that Couples, the 1992 Masters champion, set the record, previously held by Bernhard Langer, for the oldest player to make the cut. Time and again since turning 50, the silver-haired and fluid-swinging patron favorite has risen up the leader board, defying his age.
“There really isn’t a secret,” Couples said. “Everyone loves this place. That doesn’t mean you’re going to play well. If I hit it really solid, I’m a good iron player.”
Couples was grateful to have only one hole to finish in the harsh weather.
“I wouldn’t want to be on the 10th hole,” he said. “I think, if I was on the 10th hole, it might be a little different story. Everyone is going to be struggling and trying to make pars.”
But he did have to prepare for the possibility of starting his third round later in the day.
“Am I going to look thrilled to play 18 holes in this this afternoon?” Couples said. “No, I’m a wimp. I’m an old wimp, but I’m excited to play. And I don’t wear gloves, so I’ve got a couple of hours to try to figure out what I’m going to try and do if it stays like this all day long.”
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