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Masters Field 2014: Golfers to Watch on Day 2

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistApril 10, 2014

Masters Field 2014: Golfers to Watch on Day 2

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    David J. Phillip

    You can't win the Masters on the first day of the season's first major, but a dreadful round can ruin your chances of winning it.

    The key to the first round at Augusta is finding a way to get comfortable on the course and having a firm take-off point for the rest of the tournament.

    Early leaders like Bill Haas, Louis Oosthuizen and Adam Scott have put themselves in a good position, but they are not the only golfers to watch as we prepare for the second round of this always-dramatic tournament.

    While there's no Tiger Woods in this year's field, here are the players to keep an eye on in the second round of the tournament.

Bill Haas

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    David J. Phillip

    Opening round score: 68, leading after the first round

    What he needs to do in second round: Bill Haas knows how to get off to a good start. It's sustaining his play that can be an issue.

    Haas looked solid and confident in firing his four-under par round, and he was consistent with two-under-par scores on both nines.

    Haas may have a bit of trepidation as he tees off on Friday. He fired an opening-round 65 in last week's Shell Houston Open, but he followed with rounds of 74, 76 and 72 and played himself out of contention.

    Haas needs to prove that he can shoot even par or better so he can stay at or near the lead and give himself a chance to contend in the tournament.

    "I know there's tons of golf left," Haas told Mike McAllister of PGATour.com. "And maybe understanding that, I know that I can't expect too much. You've just got to go out there and keep playing golf, try to hit that fairway on No. 1 tomorrow."

Adam Scott

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    David J. Phillip

    Opening round score: 69, tied for second

    What he needs to do in second round: It was an excellent opening round for Adam Scott, who appears to be putting himself in a perfect position to defend the championship he won a year ago.

    Scott was very pleased with his ball striking, as he told ESPN's Tom Rinaldi that he only hit "one bad shot" in the opening round. That was on the par-3 12th hole when he hit his shot into Rae's Creek and ended up taking a double bogey.

    Scott is perhaps the best ball striker on the tour, and he needs to do more of the same on Friday. While there are questions about his putting, he should put himself in a strong position if he can break par once again in the second round.

    As ESPN's Ian O'Connor wrote, "When it was all over, his ease and confidence suggested that there would be more birdies to come over the long weekend and that he had replaced Tiger (out after back surgery) and Phil (eight shots off the lead ) as the most forbidding obstacle for the rest of the field."

    If Scott can find his putting stroke, he will be very tough for anyone else to beat. 

Rory McIlroy

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Opening round score: 71, tied for 12th

    What he needs to do in second round: Rory McIlroy is no longer flailing around on the golf course. After a disastrous 2013 in which he said he went into each tournament "hoping" to play well, he has a much different attitude this year. he told Rinaldi he "expects" to play well in every tournament.

    McIlroy struck the ball extremely well, but his putting was just ordinary. A three-put bogey on the 18th put a damper on his solid opening round.

    McIlroy has two majors under his belt and he would love to win his first Masters. If that's going to happen, he will need to make a big move in the second round and perhaps break 70. If he can do that, he will be in excellent position to compete on the weekend.

     

Patrick Reed

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Opening round score: 73, tied for 27th

    What he needs to do in second round: Patrick Reed is one of the young lions on the PGA Tour, and he just may be one of the best players in the years to come.

    Reed has no shortage of confidence, as evidenced by his statement earlier in the year that he was "one of the best five players on the tour."

    While those brash words may have gotten Reed noticed, they also demonstrated more than a hint of arrogance. That may lead to him portraying the role of villain in the near future.

    Reed hit the ball well in his opening round, but he was done in by three consecutive bogeys to close the round. He is five strokes behind Haas, and if he wants to give himself a good chance to contend in the second round, he needs to put that poor finish behind him.

    That's not easy to do at Augusta. One or two bad shots can ruin a round, and the best golfers know how to move past that. That's what Reed must do in the second round if he really wants to have a chance.

Jordan Spieth

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Opening round score: 71, tied for 12th

    What he needs to do in second round: Jordan Spieth lives to play another day after his first round at Augusta. Teamed with young guns McIlroy and Reed, Spieth brought a gunslinger's mentality with him to the golf course, and that could have done him in.

    Spieth likes to play an aggressive game, but golfers who have that kind of mentality at the wrong time at Augusta usually pay a stiff price. Spieth found himself in that position when he was in the back bunker on the 12th hole. 

    He thought about making a spectacular run at the hole, but he took the advice of caddy Michael Greller and played it safe by blasting out to 18 feet. He made the putt, and he knew that was the right decision.

    “You have to dial it down here, no doubt about it,” Spieth told Jeff Babineau of Golfweek. “You can't be aggressive.”

    There will be a time and a place for Spieth to get aggressive. That time is probably not the second round either. If he can continue to play controlled golf, he will give himself a shot on the weekend.

Bubba Watson

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Opening round score: 69, tied for second

    What he needs to do in second round: Bubba Watson looks as if he wants to reclaim the green jacket he won in 2012.

    While Bubba always gets his fair share of mentions at the Masters, it didn't seem like he was in the first rank of contenders before the tournament began. However, Watson fired a 69 and was the only golfer in the field who did not have a bogey on his card. It's also the first time that he's had a bogey-free round at Augusta.

    Watson was razor-sharp, as he made 16 greens in regulation. He played within himself and looked calm and in control. That makes him a very dangerous player.

    Watson is confident at Augusta and his first round should put him in a positive frame of mind. If he can finish even par or better in the second round, he has a chance to put his stamp on the tournament and possibly win his second green jacket.

Phil Mickelson

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Opening round score: 76, tied for 67th

    What he needs to do in second round: Phil Mickelson always thinks he has a chance to win when he comes to Augusta. He may have been thinking about a victory before he teed off in his opening round, but after firing a four-over-par 76, all he is focusing on is making the cut and playing through the weekend. 

    "I've got a lot of work to do just to make the cut," Mickelson told the Golf Channel's Kelly Tilghman. "I've got a lot of issues."

    The 76 tied a career high for Mickelson, who recorded a triple-bogey seven on the par-four seventh hole and a double-bogey seven on the par-five 15th hole.

    If Mickelson is going to make the cut and have a chance to put himself back in contention, he needs to go low on Friday. He might be able to survive with a 70, but he probably wants to shoot 68 or 69 to feel better about his chances.

Louis Oosthuizen

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Opening round score: 69, tied for second

    What he needs to do in second round: Louis Oosthuizen fired four birdies on the front nine and looked like a golfer who is ready to contend and win his first Masters title.

    The South African with the classic swing was dialed in the first round as he shot 33-36 and is just one stroke behind Haas.

    Oosthuizen loves the layout at Augusta and he played the opening round with fervor. 

    "I've been feeling this coming for a while (now) that I'm swinging well, playing well," Oosthuizen told the media after the first round (h/t EuropeanTour.com) "I know I can play this golf course, but your game needs to be on form."

    Oosthuizen had two bogeys on the back nine, but he did not hurt himself because they were balanced by two birdies. If he can play even par or better in the second round, he should be considered one of the prime contenders for the green jacket and the second major of his career.

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