AUGUSTA — Thursday may have been a dream day for Fred Couples and Tom Watson at Augusta National Golf Club. But while Friday wasn’t exactly a nightmare, it probably caused a difficult night of sleep for the two elder stars.
Couples, a 50-year-old who won the Masters in 1992, had the lead after the first round with stellar 6-under-par 66 on Thursday. Right below him on the leaderboard was two-time Masters winner Tom Watson, who at 60 years old was one of five players to shoot a 67 in the first round.
Friday was a different story as Couples had a 75 and Watson had a 74, and both enter the weekend at 3 under, five shots out of the lead.
“(Thursday) was a great day; (Friday) was not too good,” Couples said. “A 75 is a very mediocre score. I didn’t feel great (Thursday), but I got it around.”
Couples looked steady through the first part of the round, and he remained in the lead at 6 under after an even-par 36 on the front nine. But he tweaked his back, which has bothered him for years, and he had bogeys on four of the final five holes.
“I just didn’t finish,” Couples said. “I played pretty well, but I bogeyed the last three holes. I’m going to say (the course was) tougher (than Thursday). It was cold and windy, but there were some good scores. It’s not a whole lot of fun at the moment, but that’s the way it is.
“For a while, (his back) felt like I could go from first to last, but I kind of loosened up, and I got it around. It just wasn’t great.”
There was a lot of good and bad for Watson in his round, but nothing was really consistent.
He had only eight pars in the round, including only three on the front nine.
“It was a struggle,” Watson said. “I didn’t chip the ball well and hit a couple of poor iron shots, and that was the difference between (Thursday) and (Friday).
“(On Thursday), I chipped the ball beautifully, got the ball right up by the whole. (On Friday), the touch wasn’t there, and that’s what killed me.”
Watson went bogey, birdie, bogey, birdie to open his round, and the roller-coaster ride was on. He had bogeys on Nos. 7 and 9 and had another one on No. 12. Then came birdies on Nos. 13 and 15, but he finished with a bogey on No. 18, a day after ending his round with a birdie.
“I’m disappointed that I didn’t do as well as I could have,” Watson said. “(On Thursday), I got about as much out of the round as I could. That was one of those rounds that I got more out of the round than I should have.
“(On Friday), I got less out of the round than I should have gotten. It kind of evened out the last two days.”