Masters 2024: Wild, windy finishes send several stars packing; Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy barely survive

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Having just missed a par save from 5 feet Friday evening at Augusta National’s par-5 15th hole, Viktor Hovland hastily tried to rake the 2-footer for bogey back into the hole.

He missed the hole completely.

It was that type of day for Hovland and several more of the world’s best players, many of whom were blown out of this 88th Masters by gusty winds and high scores.

The scoring average for the second round, which for the late groups nearly exceeded six hours, was 75.079, boosted only slightly by nine under-par rounds – and nothing better than Ludvig Åberg’s 3-under 69. Not since 2007, when Zach Johnson won in cold and windy conditions, had the second-round scoring average been higher (75.625).

“This is as difficult as I’ve ever played it,” said Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion who shot 9-over 81 and missed the cut by five at 11 over. “… I thought I had 81 impossible shots today.”

The group of MCs included Hovland, the world No. 6, who double-bogeyed No. 15 as part of his own second-round 81 to finish at 8 over; No. 4 Wyndham Clark, who bogeyed three of his final five holes to card 78 and miss the cut by one; and No. 8 Brian Harman, who capped his opening round on Friday morning with a back-nine 47 and ended at 9 over.

Dustin Johnson, the 2020 Masters champion, shot 13 over to miss by a mile.

Jordan Spieth, the 2015 green-jacket winner, made a quad on No. 15, which effectively ended his chances of playing the weekend. He finished at 9 over.

Justin Thomas had the most shocking collapse in missing the cut by a shot. He was even par with four holes to play on Friday evening before going double-double-bogey-double.

When Thomas made his final double, it shifted the cut line to 6 over, tied for the highest mark since 2007, ultimately extending the tournaments of 11 players, including past champs Hideki Matsuyama, Adam Scott and 58-year-old Jose Maria Olazabal.

Several other top-10 players just squeaked into the weekend, including reigning champ Jon Rahm, at 5 over. Rory McIlroy hit a tree with his last tee shot, but he somehow managed to save par from 17 feet; he parred each of his last four holes, getting up and down on three of them.

“Just to par the last four holes and get in the clubhouse and have a tee time tomorrow, I’m sort of pretty happy with,” McIlroy said, while later adding, “My golf swing felt horrific for the last six or seven holes, just from hitting around. Especially that 11th hole; 11, it felt like it took an hour to play that hole.”

Thankfully for guys such as McIlroy, Phil Mickelson (4 over), Joaquin Niemann (4 over) and Will Zalatoris (3 over), they are sticking around for two more days. In 2007, the were actually two tougher days for scoring, in Round 1 (76.188) and Round 3 (77.35), but it’s unlikely these next 36 holes see scoring rise with much more favorable conditions on tap, including less wind and a high in the mid-80s come Sunday.

“If you fought hard and kind of stayed in it,” said Mickelson, a three-time Masters winner, “this weekend should be nice and give you some opportunities to make a move.”

The bad news: Scottie Scheffler, Bryson DeChambeau and Max Homa are tied for the lead at 6 under.

But even McIlroy still holds hope:

“I still think I can go out tomorrow and shoot a low one, get back into red numbers, and have half a chance going into Sunday.”

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