2020 Masters simulation: Jon Rahm opens strong with two-shot lead entering the weekend

The 2020 Masters has been delayed until November due to the coronavirus pandemic, but that didn't stop data scientist Rick Gehman from playing out the tournament as if it was played as scheduled. A SportsLine expert who co-hosts "The First Cut" podcast on CBS Sports, Gehman's simulations are used by countless DFS players and golf bettors.

For this Monte Carlo simulation, Gehman factored in every golfer's recent form along with their career history and hole-by-hole scoring at Augusta National. The field includes every golfer who had qualified for The Masters by the time the PGA halted tournaments, and real cut rules were applied.

Rounds 1-2

Four of the world's top 10 players are in contention as the (simulated) Masters enters the weekend. The field is chasing world No. 2 Jon Rahm, who has been knocking on the door of a Masters win the past two seasons (T9 in 2019, 4th in 2018).

Rahm produced the only bogey-free round Thursday, carding a clean 65. He backed that up with a 68 to go 11-under, two shots ahead of Patrick Reed.

It was Reed, the 2018 Masters winners, who broke out of the gates in Round 1 with a Masters-tying record of 63. Reed drained birdies on five of the first six holes, making the turn at 6 under. He offset two bogies on the second nine (Nos. 10 and 14) with an eagle on 13. Reed struggled to even-par Friday, putting him at 9 under heading to the weekend. 

One of the world's best players without a major championship, Hideki Matsuyama fired 67-69 to sit third, three shots off the lead.

Webb Simpson, who already won in Phoenix this year and is looking to add a second major to his resume (2012 U.S. Open), also played well. Outside of a double bogey on No. 5 on Thursday, Simpson has avoided disaster at the Masters and enters the weekend tied for fourth (-7) with J.T. Poston. For his part, Poston is looking to defy the odds. Despite this being his first Masters appearance, he seems completely comfortable, carding rounds of 67-70 (-7). Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 was the last player to win the Masters in his first try.

World No. 1 Rory McIlroy, looking to complete the career grand slam, started Round 1 with a flurry of birdies, completing his first nine in 31 (-5). In Round 2, he overcame double bogeys on Nos. 6 and 18 to finish at even par, leaving him sixth at 6 under.

Notables through 36 holes

  • Bryson Dechambeau (-4) lurks is T10 after catching fire in Round 2 (67). 
  • Jordan Spieth has seemingly been to every corner of Augusta National, but he will head to the weekend under par (-1).
  • It looks like Tiger Woods, without a miracle, will not be repeating as champion. He sits at 4 over entering Moving Day, making the cut on the number.
  • Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Paul Casey and Gary Woodland are among the stars who missed the cut.

Masters leaderboard through 36 holes

As simulated by SportsLine

GolferTo ParBirdies or betterBogeys or worse

Jon Rahm

-11

12

1

Patrick Reed

-9

12

7

Hideki Matsuyama

-8

11

3

Webb Simpson

-7

13

4

J.T. Poston

-7

11

4

Rory McIlroy

-6

13

3

Tyrrell Hatton

-6

9

3

Lanto Griffin

-5

11

6

Shane Lowry

-5

9

2

Adam Scott

-4

11

7

Bryson DeChambeau

-4

11

7

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