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‘I feel like I got hit by a train’: Bruising winds blow a flurry of big names out of ‘borderline unplayable’ Masters

By Jack Bantock, CNN

(CNN) — One compared it to getting hit by a train, another to going 12 rounds against Mike Tyson. Believe it or not, these are both sound bites from a golf tournament.

Whipping winds pummeled Augusta National during the second round of the Masters on Friday, whisking some of the game’s biggest stars up and out of the 88th edition of the major as players toiled to make it to the weekend.

Four of the last 10 green jacket winners fell short of the six-over par cut line – Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Jordan Spieth, and Bubba Watson – while two more only narrowly squeezed through. Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, victor in 2021, edged in by a single stroke, with defending champion Jon Rahm only going one better.

A storm-delayed first round meant some players had to finish their first 18 holes Friday morning, exacerbating a grueling day. Some groups took upwards of six hours to finish their second round, as grounds staff worked doggedly to remove tree debris and bunker sand swept onto fairways and greens by the wind.

“A couple times questioning myself why we were out there, especially when I got to 18 and saw the whole front of the green just full of sand,” Rahm, who shot four-over 76, told reporters.

“You just put the ball down, and it’s very close to moving …  It’s about as hard a golf course as I’ve seen in a very long time.”

A mere 14 of the 89-player field sit under par after 36 holes, spearheaded by American trio Max Homa, Bryson DeChambeau and Scottie Scheffler at six-under overall.

World No. 11 Homa carded the best score of the three, signing off at the 18th – arguably the most windswept hole of the course – with a one-under 71 and a shower of sand in his hair.

“Even the golf course was saying, ‘Get the hell out of here,’” Homa, chasing his first major, said.

“Being out in the wind for that long just got old. Even here, even at a place as amazing as this, I was picturing my couch and the TV. Just wanted to be done, just be inside – that’s all we were rooting for.”

Round one leader DeChambeau was content with his 73 after “one of the toughest tests of golf” he had ever faced, while tournament favorite Scheffler echoed the LIV Golf star and a host of others in attesting he had never experienced conditions – made even more challenging by firm greens – like it at Augusta.

“This was by far the most wind I’ve played in around this golf course and I thought it was a good score to get in at even par,” world No. 1 Scheffler told Sky Sports Golf after shooting even-par 72.

“Going into tomorrow I think the wind is going to be up but not nearly as much as today. I’m sure we’ll see a few more birdies tomorrow but I’ll just stay in my own little world and try and execute.”

‘He nearly got blown away’

Scheffler’s hopes of a calmer environment Saturday will do little to soothe the string of big names that failed to make the weekend.

Neither the reigning British or US Open champions will feature, as Brian Harman and Wyndham Clark – who had arrived in red-hot form – both missed the cut. They are joined in making an early exit by multiple-major champions Justin Thomas and Spieth, as well as world No. 6 Viktor Hovland.

South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel clinched a two-shot victory at Augusta National in 2011, but crashed out after shooting 74 and 81.

“I thought I had 81 impossible shots today,” Schwartzel said.

“On a normal day, 15-mile-an-hour wind, with the way it’s playing at this firmness, it’s a fantastic test. It’s tough. You then get on the wrong side, and you’re thinking, ‘Wow, this is difficult.’

“Then you add this wind to it, and it becomes borderline unplayable.”

Even some of those that survived were left scratching their heads to work out how they made it through – including Shane Lowry and playing partner Akshay Bhatia.

“It’s honestly a lot of guesswork, a lot of luck involved,” Ireland’s Lowry admitted.
“That was probably the toughest two days of golf that I’ve played. I’ll sleep well tonight.”

“I can’t imagine what it was doing to poor Akshay. It was blowing me around the place. He nearly got blown away.”

Bhatia added: “Generally, I’m a really good wind player, but out here it’s just different.
It’s got a mind of its own.”

Comparisons were rife. Garcia had name-dropped Tyson during Thursday’s similarly windy round, and South African Erik van Rooyen went a step further Friday.

“I am tired. I feel like I got hit by a train just now,” he said after shooting 76.

The conditions only heightened anxieties around Tiger Woods’ ability to navigate the hilly terrain, but the 48-year-old showcased the Augusta expertise that helped him clinch five green jackets to sail into the weekend at one-over par overall.

It marked a record-breaking 24th consecutive cut for Woods, having previously shared the honor of longest running streak for cuts made at the tournament with Gary Player and Fred Couples.

“I’m here. I have a chance to win the golf tournament,” Woods replied when asked by reporters what the milestone means to him.

“Just need some food and some caffeine, and I’ll be good to go.”

The third round begins at 9:35 a.m. ET (2:35 p.m. BST) on Saturday.

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