Live from The Masters - Bubba stars on Friday
Ask those in the know and they'll tell you that some things about Augusta never change.
Take Washington Road - the 25.6-mile-long road which skirts the edge of Augusta National Golf Club – as the prime example. It's a bleak stretch of concrete greyness; of restaurant chains with grossly oversized signs that dominate the skyline; of shopping centres and pop-up tents, of traffic cops and ticket scalpers.
For a first timer at the Masters, it can be difficult comprehending how the commercial unpleasantness of Washington Road can possibly share a border with the stunning Augusta National you've drooled over on television.
PLAY OF THE DAY
As the only non-professional to make the cut, Oliver Goss (+3) is now assured of winning the silver trophy, presented to the best-placed amateur. He turns 20 today.
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And then there is Hooters...
...the international chain that bills itself as "delightfully tacky yet unrefined", where guests can expect cold libations and fried food served primarily by voluptuous young women.
Each year during Masters week, the Augusta Hooters erects a couple of temporary beer gardens to cope with the influx of visitors – many straight from the tournament. They come in droves, not just for the cold beer and the hot chicken wings, but to meet the man whose bus is parked out the front for the duration of the week.
You might know him – his name is John Daly. The two-time major winner sits in front of the bus in front of the Hooters "from 10 until dark" each day, selling merchandise and posing for photos with fans.
The Florida Times-Union's Garry Smits explains: "Long John parks his RV near the Hooters entrance, sets out a few tables and starts selling hats, t-shirts, club-head covers, mugs, coozies, logo ball and anything else with his name or logo on it. Hooters customers are JD's natural constituency. If there was ever a guy in his element, this is it."
I wander down Washington Road to see for myself. From 150 feet away, I can already make out the familiar flash of blonde hair. Perusing through his assortment of self-branded merchandise, I pick out a white shirt with a sketch of a lion swinging a club – way past the parallel, of course – and a couple of golf balls bearing Daley's signature.
"How ya'll doing," the Wild Thing greets me. "You enjoying the Masters?" He signs the shirt with the message "rip it", and seems in good spirits, so I pluck up the courage to ask whether he'd mind sitting for an interview.
"I can do that," he replies, handing over my goodies in a Hooters bag before examining the group of people gathering towards the end of the table. "But morning is usually better for me, do you mind coming by tomorrow?"
He's a man of the people, Big John. Tomorrow it is.
Back on the course, it was Bubba Watson who set Augusta alight with five straight birdies on the back nine to take the clubhouse lead at seven-under. The 2011 champ has just the one blemish on his two cards; a bogey on 17 today. If he comes out and shoots a similar score tomorrow, the tournament might well be over.
The chasing pack is headed by John Senden, with the Australian firing six birdies in round of 68 to sit three shots off the pace. Four players sit a further shot back, including defending champion Adam Scott, Denmark's Thomas Bjorn, debutante Jonas Blixt and 20-year-old Jordan Spieth, who will attempt to become the youngest player ever to win the Masters.
STAT / PLAYER OF THE DAY
Just two players in the last 14 years have won the Green Jacket after holding the 36-hole lead: Trevor Immelman (2008) and Mike Weir (2003).
|Still got it: Fred Couples remains in contention||Chasing history: Jordan Spieth||
Sergio: one of several big names to
Phil Mickelson finished in a group of 11 players – including four major champions – to miss the cut of +4 by one shot. It's the first time Lefty won't feature on a Saturday at the Masters since 1997. Overnight leader Bill Haas (-4) compounded to shoot a +6 round of 78, the worst of any player inside the top 50. He finished the day at +2.
Fred Couples, at 54-years-old, remains in the mix at -2, on a day where Larry Mize (55), Vijay Singh (51), Bernhard Langer (56), Miguel Ángel Jiménez (50), Sandy Lyle (56) and José María Olazábal (48) all made the cut.
That's just another reason we love the Masters.