AUGUSTA, Ga. It didn’t take Sergio Garcia long to take a tumble down the leader board Friday at the Masters. Dustin Johnson waited a while longer to lose his grip, but when he did, his fall was equally painful.
Garcia entered the day tied for the lead at 6-under par with Marc Leishman, doing so by playing a bogey-free first round. But after making par on the first two holes Friday, Garcia bogeyed Nos. 3 and 4 and his claim to the lead was gone.
Johnson, a stroke behind Garcia and Leishman after the first round, steadied himself after a slow start Friday, but fell apart on the back nine, going 6-over par over the final five holes.
On Thursday, Garcia and Johnson had been able to take advantage of a calm day that produced benign conditions on the course. They started their rounds on Friday morning, when the weather was damp and drizzly. By the time they finished in the afternoon, the sun was out and the wind was blowing.
“It was obviously much more difficult today, very gusty winds,” said Garcia. “There were some shots that you would hit well and it would make you look a little bit silly.”
Garcia gave an example: On the par-4 15th hole, playing partners Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera reached the green in regulation.
“It’s almost dead calm when Adam and Angel were hitting,” said Garcia. “I hit what I thought was a perfect shot to the middle of the green and caught a huge gust and, unfortunately, it comes up short into the water.”
Garcia’s round wasn’t a complete disaster. He finished with a 4-over-par 76 and is at 142 for the tournament, four strokes behind leader Jason Day.
Johnson didn’t bother to talk with reporters after his round of 76, which left him at 1-under 143 and five strokes out of the lead.
Fred Couples, who played with Johnson, was watching and he described Johnson’s final five holes.
“Dustin Johnson is one of the top players in the world,” said Couples. “Besides a chunk in the water, they weren’t bad shots. You make bogeys by missing a spot and three-putting or not getting up-and-down. He’s a guy who could win this and he kind of stepped on himself. He’s going to have to burn it up (Saturday). But it can happen.”
Included in that untidy stretch for Johnson – a Myrtle Beach resident who played at Coastal Carolina – was a double bogey on the par-5 15th (where, like Garcia, he hit his approach into the water) and another on No. 18.
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