It frequently was said by past Golfweek editors that some of the best stories are at the bottom of the leaderboard, but several top players better start making birdies if they want to make it past the projected cut at the Masters and be part of the weekend story.
Internet search data by Google on Thursday showed a spike in interest on the cut line, probably as many fans searched to see if players they picked in their Masters pools were going to be around for the final 36. There certainly were some bracket busters in the cut-line mix.
Only the top 50 players and ties make it to the weekend in the Masters, and with the current 36-hole cut line projected to come at 4 over par, the likes of Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson, Gary Woodland, Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy are on the outside looking in.
Other notable players such as Zach Johnson and Patrick Cantlay didn’t produce the second-round starts they were looking for after poor first rounds, and they are running out of holes to get to 3 over and safely onto the weekend pairings sheets. Lee Westwood, who has been on a run of late but who didn’t look himself in Thursday’s first round, would need a 2-under 70 to make the current cut line.
As of noon Friday there was plenty of opportunity for that cut line to change, possibly going to 3 over or even better as there was little wind at Augusta National to send scores soaring. But the greens are diabolically dry, with balls bouncing and rolling all over the place.
After first-round leader Justin Rose – who opened with a 7-under 65 – struggled to a 39 on the front nine Friday and fell back to 4 under par for the tournament, things got interesting for those further down the leaderboard. As Rose teed off on No. 10, any player projected to make the cut was within eight shots of the lead with more than 36 to play. Anything could happen, as Augusta National is known for giving up plenty of birdies to players who make it to the weekend.
A 70-percent chance of rain Saturday in Augusta also means the course might play softer, especially Sunday, which gives any player with a hot hand more opportunity to make birdies and make up ground.
But first, they have to make it past the cut line.