Old and young of it, Saturday edition
Playing partners Fred Couples, 57, and Jon Rahm, 22, both took steps back on Saturday, but it was an entertaining pairing, and be assured both will be back at Augusta next year, if bad backs and sophomore slumps don’t rise up and bite.
Couples shot 74 today and starts Sunday at 1-over, but he’s playing well, period. He’s done no worse than a tie for 6th in four early-season Champions Tour events, with a victory and a second place. The 1992 champion has a gift for charming galleries … he says he’ll play the Masters until they ask him nicely not to. It doesn’t look like that will be any year soon.
Rahm shot 73 today and sits at even-par for Sunday, six strokes behind leaders Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia. Rahm has big game, and even if he doesn’t win in his rookie try, the book on him says he’ll be knocking on a major’s door sooner rather than later.
Spieth is back, like he ever left
Jordan Spieth’s opening 75 seems a long time ago, like way back on Thursday. His smooth 68 today followed on a Friday 69, and he’s two shots back of Rose and Garcia with a bag-load of momentum.
He said afterward, “I gave myself a chip and a chair,” a phrase from poker, I guess, which means something like if he’s not busted and they’re still letting him play, he has a chance to win. Las Vegas likes him: he’s the second betting favorite to win with odds at 3.15/1, behind only Rose at 2.7/1.
Speaking of Vegas
UNLV alum Charley Hoffman, first-round leader and second-round co-leader, dumped one in the water on No. 16, his only big mistake of the day, but it left him at 4-under, two behind the leaders. Hoffman is a powerful ball-striker and a steady head, so if he keeps it dry and in play, he has — to borrow another gambling term by way of boxing — a puncher’s chance. He’ll play in the third-to-last pairing with Ryan Moore, another product of the UNLV golf factory.
Gold and green?
Rose already owns something no other golfer in the modern era can claim: an Olympic gold medal, earned in Rio last August. We wrote then:
“It’s hard to be cynical about Olympics golf after watching the men’s final round Sunday. These guys were having fun, on a beautiful new golf course, and the only guy possibly happier than gold medalist Justin Rose was bronze medalist Matt Kuchar. As for silver medalist Henrik Stenson, the big stoic Swede out of Sweden, it was hard to tell. He almost smiled once, I swear to god he did.”
How ’bout Stenson at the Masters? Missed the cut.