The second cut at the Masters has long been kept at 1 3/8 inch, and according to an official bulletin from Augusta National earlier this week, thats the same length it has been trimmed to this year. But in the damp, muggy conditions, the Augusta grass appears to be a little lusher this week.
A victory on Sunday would be Woods fifth at Augusta National, leaving him second behind six-times champion Jack Nicklaus, but to do so he will have to pull off something he has never done before – come from behind in the final round to win a major.
CBS analyst Peter Kostis noted the longer second cut on the telecast Sunday as Tony Finau played a tricky chip from left of the 3rd green. On Saturday, Rory McIlroy made a similar observation after somewhat disappointing rounds of 73-71-71.
The rough this year is about a quarter or half an inch longer than it usually is, and it’s just hard to get control of your ball out of it, McIlroy said.
But his biggest piece of luck came at the par-five 13th, where he hooked his drive so far left that the ball seemed more likely to end up in adjacent Augusta Country Club than stay in Augusta National.
He added: Usually the ball comes spinning out of the rough, and just being that little bit longer, you get flyers, basically. I’ve had a few flyers this week. But just to not have control of your golf ball and to sort of be guessing, I think that’s the thing, to guess what distance your ball is going to go around here is never a good scenario.
No one will mistake this Masters at Augusta National for a U.S. Open at Oakmont or Winged Foot — the rough is still wholly playable — but the slightly fluffier, stickier grass will be something to watch as the leaders seek to control their distances in the decisive moments on Masters Sunday.
The 2019 Masters has provided a championship helping of highlights through just 54 holes, from Brooks Koepkas brilliant Thursday to the many twists and turns at the top of the leaderboard on Friday and then record-setting scoring performances on Saturday. Now, its all going to have to come to an end quickly on Sunday due to inclement weather.
That kind of quick rally is going to be a challenge for the golfers at the top of the leaderboard who finished their rounds in the early evening, facing wake-up times as early as 4 a.m. ET in order to get through their warm-up routine in time for the rushed start. Its the first time the Masters has ever going with two-tee starts on Sunday, but the star power in contention promises that the non-traditional finish will produce a worthy winner.
1. Francesco Molinari (-13): The world will be waking up early on Sunday to see whether Tiger Woods can win a fifth green jacket, but just like at The Open last year, it could Molinari that emerges as the winner from that group. The key to Molinaris success has been one of the most important aspects to winning at Augusta National: avoiding the big number. But even beyond avoiding a “big” number, Molinari has avoided negative scores almost entirely with only a single bogey through 54 holes of competition.
T2. Tiger Woods (-11): The key to noting what Tiger is doing right now is that its not “vintage Tiger.” What we are witnessing is one of the 15 best golfers in the game in 2019 elevating his level of play on the biggest stage, and he just so happens to already have four green jackets to his name. Tiger has rebuilt himself for this final run in his early 40s, and it was all for opportunities like Sunday: to be in the mix to win another major championship.
T2. Tony Finau (-11): Few things in golf right now are more exciting than Finau on a heater. Seeking his first-ever major and first-ever Masters win, Finau came out firing with three straight birdies on 1, 2 and 3. He then followed that up with another birdie on the par-3 6th and an eagle on the par-5 8th for the best nine-hole performance weve seen so far this year (30). Finaus final total was six birdies, an eagle and no bogeys for one of the three 64s on the board on Saturday.
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4. Brooks Koepka (-10): It was a pretty solid round of 69 for the three-time major champion, only marred by a few mistakes that prevented him from going low. At 10-under hes absolutely in the mix to win, needing only to drown out the Tiger roars the same way he did at the PGA Championship last August.
T5. Webb Simpson (-9): The soft, humid conditions played right into Webbs hands, and the experience of his previous Masters appearances has provided the blueprint for him to be successful. After making the weekend last year, Simpson knows exactly where to hit it, where not to hit it and when he can be aggressive. All of it set up for him taking part in the historic run of 64s.
T5. Ian Poulter (-9): Riding alongside Tiger, Poulters equally impressive 68 fell below the fold a little, but his effort should not be lost on fans taking a look at the leaderboard. The strange settings of a two-tee, earlier start could produce strange results, and Poulter is a world-class player who could take advantage and emerge as the unlikely winner.
T7. Matt Kuchar, Justin Harding, Xander Schauffele, Louis Oosthuizen, Dustin Johnson (-8): A mixed bag here with Kuchar going low to join the crowded group just inside the top 10 while Oosty, D.J. and Xander had to grind a little bit for their scores just under par. The way Molinari pushed the lead out late in the afternoon doesnt benefit any of the players at 8-under, but none should be considered totally eliminated from contention.
T12. Rickie Fowler, Adam Scott (-7): Fowler had a couple incredible shots around the green during his lowest round of the week so far, while Scott is going to be disappointed to finish Saturday with an even par score for the round when everyone else at the top of the leaderboard was able to take advantage of great scoring conditions.
Who will be the one to step up on Sunday? That remains to be seen, but we sure are excited to find out. CBS Sports will be with you the entire way Sunday with live coverage of the 2019 Masters, which will begin early at 7:30 a.m. ET due to expected inclement weather in the afternoon. You will be able to watch every moment of the action live on CBSSports.com and the CBS Sports app with the television broadcast beginning early at 9 a.m. and the leaders teeing off at 9:20 a.m.
Chip Patterson has spent his young career covering college sports from the Old North State. Hes been writing and talking about football and basketball for CBS Sports since 2010. You may have heard him… Full Bio