AUGUSTA — Defending Masters Tournament champion Bubba Watson broke through on the right side of the bubble Friday while fellow former University of Georgia golfer Russell Henley’s first appearance at Augusta National Golf Club will end with him outside the ropes looking in.
Watson spent much of the second round flirting with the projected cut but birdied four holes on the back nine to keep alive his hopes of winning another green jacket, finishing the day with a 1-over 73 and a 36-hole 4-over 148.
It was a wild, waffling round that featured seven birdies, six bogeys and a double.
“That’s what we call Bubba golf,” said Watson, who needed leader Jason Day to miss a birdie opportunity on No. 18 to keep from becoming the first reigning Masters champion to miss the cut since Mike Weir failed to reach the weekend in 2005.
Watson sits 10 strokes back from Day, whose 4-under 68 put him atop the field at 6 under.
Henley also suffered through a bogey-riddled round with nine of them and a double on the par-4 No. 5 to finish the day with a 9-over 81 and miss the cut.
Unlike Watson, however, Henley had too few birdies (Nos. 10 and 16) to make up for bogeys at Nos. 2, 4, 6, 9, 11, 13, 14 and 16 and a double at No. 5.
Henley, who turned 24 on Friday, said he was disappointed but believed he would have other opportunities in the tournament.
“I’m going to be back,” Henley said. “I’m not in it for next year, but I believe very firmly that I’ll be back here competing for the championship, for sure. That’s something I dream about and think about every day, and I believe it’s going to happen.”
Even before the round started, Henley said he knew something was wrong with his swing, and he went on to hit seven of 14 fairways and reached four of 18 greens in regulation with an average drive of 255.5 yards — 54 yards shorter than his first-round average.
“I didn’t feel very comfortable with the driver,” Henley said. “Obviously, it cost me a bunch of shots today. You have to do everything great out there, but you definitely have to drive well.
“My swing didn’t feel very good on the range to start the day, and I might have cured it a little bit, but I definitely didn’t expect to play as bad as I did.”
The week wasn’t wasted, though. Henley said he enjoyed the experience and found some things to work on heading into next week’s RBC Heritage at Hilton Head, S.C.
“It’s incredible,” Henley said. “I got to play two (practice) rounds of golf with Tom Watson and in the par-3 tournament. Just spending time with him is something I’ll never forget. It was definitely a great learning experience for me, and I’m going to be a lot better because of this week for sure.”
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