The second day of the 78th Masters was just as compelling as the first and some real stories are starting to take shape as we head for the weekend.
Let's get down to business.
1. No Tiger, no Phil: You likely saw the statistic floating around Twitter but I wanted to put it into print for posterity.
We will experience a weekend without either Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson at the Masters for the first time since 1994.
That's a long, long time.
Jordan Spieth hadn't celebrated his first birthday yet.
And not only that but it's the first time since 1999 that one of the two won't finish in the top five.
It's looking like the 1st time since '99 the Masters will end w/o Tiger or Lefy finishing in the top 5 & since '94 one won't finish top 10— Randall Mell (@RandallMellGC) April 11, 2014
Woods is obviously holed up in his Florida home -- he didn't attend the Champions Dinner because of doctors orders -- and Mickelson shot 76-73 for an early ticket home.
It's also just the second time since 1997 Mickelson or Woods won't play the weekend at a major -- the 2009 British Open was the other one.
That's a huge bummer for a tournament looking for some big-name fireworks on Saturday and Sunday. Take us home, Bubba.
2. Speaking of Bubba: The other left-hander carded a world-class 68 that included a bogey at the last. He leads at 7 under and his string of five straight birdies on the second nine was as good a streak as I've seen in recent Masters history.
3. These two stats are important:
History says better be within 6 strokes thru 36 holes. Only Jack Burke ('56) has come from farther back at halfway point. #Masters— Bob Harig (@BobHarig) April 11, 2014
You can't win it Friday, but you can lose it. 23 of the last 24 Masters winners shot even par or better in the 2nd round.— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) April 11, 2014
Candidates: Bubba, John Senden, Thomas Bjorn, Jim Furyk, Jonas Blixt, Fred Couples, Jimmy Walker, Jamie Donaldson, Stephen Gallacher, Russell Henley, Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth, and Kevin Streelman.
That list of names can also take hope in these stats on how many golfers you can chase down on the weekend:
4. Oliver Goss does what Phil couldn't: The only amateur to make the cut was University of Tennessee student Oliver Goss. He dropped a nasty 71 to follow up his 76 -- you know, what the three-time Masters champ Mickelson was trying to do.
5. The dirty little secret of 2014: This isn't a big-time leaderboard. For a regular tournament, yes, but of the world's top 10 you have exactly one golfer (Adam Scott) under par. Plus the list of names that missed the cut reads like a who's who list of major champions.
Bubba will play to the patrons and those watching on TV but the tournament needs a monster push from some big names on Saturday to make magic on Sunday.
6. Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott doing their best: Spieth and Scott added a little punch to that pretty poor leaderboard late in the day on Friday. Spieth shot a 70 and Scott went with a 33 on the back. Both will contend on the weekend and both were much needed.
7. Rory McIlroy struggles mightily (again): Poor McIlroy needed a map to find his way around the National on Friday. He almost killed Adam Scott with his tee shot on No. 4, went way back left on No. 10, and hit a sprinkler head and went into the azaleas on No. 13. It all added up to a 77. He made the cut by a stroke. And almost gave his fans a stroke.
8. Branden Grace had a 15-stroke turnaround on Friday: That's right, Grace shot 84 on Thursday and 69 on Friday. The crazy part is that it's not the biggest swing in Masters history. That belongs to Craig Wood who went 88-67 (!!) in 1936:
Branden Grace's 15 shot difference between round 1 and 2 is huge, but not the biggest gap ever. Craig Wood shot 88-67 here in 1936— Shane Bacon (@shanebacon) April 11, 2014
9. Marc Leishman crashes and burns: The Australian pulled himself a Web Simpson on Friday morning. He held the Masters lead alone after making birdie at the first three holes then closed the final 15 holes in 10 over. It was the worst kind of notoritey and he'll be watching from home this weekend as well.
10. A country for old men: This is pretty wild:
Apparently, experience still matters a little at the #Masters: 6 (!) players over the age of 50 will play the weekend.— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) April 11, 2014
That includes Fred Couples, Sandy Lyle, Bernhard Langer, Larry Mize, Vijay Singh, and Jose Maria Olazabal. As Will Gray pointed out, that's as many as the world top 10 that made it.
11. (a bonus thought) Can Bubba close? The Georgian left-hander is one-for-eight in his career with the 36-hole lead. His 2012 Masters was from behind. He was three back going into that final round.
So yeah, the big question going to the weekend is how much he'll let the nerves affect him.