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AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The 2024 Masters is Scottie Scheffler's to lose. It might not appear that way given he is surrounded by great players and even a fellow major champion at the top, but it's not like tournament winners usually appears obvious after 36 holes until you look at them in retrospect.

Scheffler has several things going for him. He's leading the field in tee to green play, gaining nearly 10 strokes in that category, which is (somewhat incredibly) par for the course with him right now. He also manages Augusta National about as well as anyone in the game right now -- if not better than any of his peers.

To watch Scheffler hit curling, conservative approach shots into par 4s that were playing like par 5s on Friday -- because of insane gusts of wind -- is to watch somebody carve up a field of players that either doesn't possess the shots Scheffler has in his bag or does not possess the humility to take pars when they want more.

Even though Scheffler is technically tied with Bryson DeChambeau and Max Homa at 6 under entering the weekend, there is a real chance that we may look back at that trio on Sunday and say, Those other two never really had a chance.

"It's different, obviously, not being able to play most of the same events and seeing how successful he's been out there," DeChambeau said of Scheffler on Friday. "He's obviously the best player in the world, and it's going to be a lot of fun competing and seeing what he can do compared to what the rest of the field can do, what I can do. I'm looking forward to it; I really am."

Watch the final two rounds of the 2024 Masters continuing Saturday as Round 3 will air live from 3-7 p.m. on CBS. You can also stream the entire round with Masters Live as we follow the best golfers in the world through Augusta National with Featured Groups, check in at the famed Amen Corner and see leaders round the turn on holes 15 & 16. Watch live on, the CBS Sports app and Paramount+.

DeChambeau, who is certainly still live to win this tournament, might not be looking forward to it as much after Scheffler gets done tactically and methodically pushing him around on a golf course that DeChambeau has a dodgy relationship with.

As for Homa, this will be the first time he's actually felt the heat of a major championship weekend while in contention. That could go great, but it also might not.

We are broadly underrating how good Scheffler is playing right now. Since the start of 2022, he has gained over 550 strokes against the field, which is 200 more strokes (!) than the player in fifth place on that list (Patrick Cantlay). He has also won nine times, more than twice as much as the seventh -lace player on that list (coincidentally, Homa). 

There's a reason Scheffler has a 41% chance to win this golf tournament, according to Data Golf, even though he has not run away from the field yet.

Scheffler is in the middle of a run that I'm not sure we are understanding or appreciating.

Only wins can accentuate that, though. Scheffler is aware of this. His competitors are, too.

Scheffler is positioned for another one, though. A big one. One that will elevate his profile from, Wow, this guy is on a great run, to, Oh, I think he actually might be historically great.

Don't be confused by the leaderboard right now. The 2024 Masters runs through Scottie Scheffler, even if he hasn't officially separated at the top.

Humble Bryson?

Following his now-infamous remark about how Augusta National is a par 67 for him, Bryson DeChambeau has been humbled by several years of poor performances. There are a number of different ways evaluate him at Augusta National, none more exact than pointing out that his best-ever finish at this tournament came in 2016 when he nearly led at the halfway point and went on to finish T21. He was an amateur that year.

On Friday, after two rounds of mentally and emotionally tussling with a golf course that has had his number, DeChambeau said he has finally submitted to the reality that he cannot always play as aggressively as he would like and must make conservative decisions at various points.

He was asked who or what finally pushed him over the edge toward that decision.

"The golf course," he laughed. "The golf course."

An example of such conservatism came at the 7th hole. 

"[No. 7], today, normally I'd be like, 'All right, let's hit one really close to the flag,' but there's just really no place to land it by the hole," DeChambeau explained. "You have a 4 or 5-yard area, and [caddie Greg Bodine] was like, 'Dude, hit it left, take a 20-footer and knock it in.'

"That was one of the first times in my professional career where I stood up there and I said, 'I'm going to hit it over here, and I'm going to make a 20 footer,' and I did it. He was really proud of me, actually, at that moment. He's like, 'Dude, look at you, hitting away from a flag,' which is not normal for me."

Maybe it should be. It currently has him in contention at the 88th Masters.

Rounds in the 60s

The wind on Friday at Augusta National was like nothing I've ever seen at this (and possibly any) golf tournament. It was howling, gusting, whipping and doing numerous other things that may not have fully come across on television. Patrons chased their hats; players lost their minds. It was a unique day in the recent history of this golf tournament. And only one golfer shot a round in 60s.

That was Ludvig Aberg, who posted a 69 while simultaneously carrying himself with the swagger of a badass and the regal nature of a prince. A 3-under round might not look like much on paper, but when the scoring average is 3 over like it was Friday, you know you're doing some serious bad-boy stuff. He's a menace and projects to be one for quite a long time.

Tiger's grind

In 2019, Tiger Woods winning the Masters truly felt like a dream. He was 43 then and not yet old, but it was an astonishing accomplishment for somebody at that stage of his career given the injuries he had endured. This is not that, but it's at least adjacent to it. The ovation Tiger received walking off No. 18 today was a great recognition of that fact: a man whose body is broken remarkably gutted out a record 24th consecutive made cut at the Masters. While not as impressive as his 2019 win, it's at least spiritually connected to it.

"It was awesome," said Homa, who played with Woods for the first 36 holes. "It really is a dream to get to play with him here. I've been saying, I always wanted to just watch him hit iron shots around here, and I was right up next to him. It was really cool. His short game was so good. I don't think I can explain how good some of the chip shots he hit today were.

"He's special. We had a really quick turnaround, and if I was feeling tired and awful, I imagine he was feeling even worse.

"He understands this golf course so well, but he hits such amazing golf shots. His iron play is so good that even when he did miss the green, you could tell he had so much control. And on 18, we had sandblasts for 45 seconds, and I turned around five times so I didn't get crushed in the face, and he's standing there like a statue and then poured it right in the middle. So, all the cliches you hear about him and all the old stories about how he will grind it out, it was fun to see that in person."

Woods is on the fringe of contention, which is crazy. It does not seem like he's going to have the stamina to go all 72 holes with the three horses at the top, but if the course stays spicy, he could certainly snag an unlikely top 10.

Homa's evolution

In the last major, the 2023 Open Championship, Homa notched his first top-10 finish at such an event. This time, he's trying to take another step with a bit of true contention on the weekend and potentially even a shot at his first major win Sunday. He said Friday after a filthy 71 -- where he finished top three in the field from tee to green -- that he's done a better job of staying in the moment. This is something Scheffler has spoken about at length over the last few years.

"I would give most of that to those thoughts just of not needing to be better than I am," he said. "I wrote something in my journal yesterday that said, However good I am is however good I am, I don't need to try to be better than I am -- and ust see where that takes me. Maybe it's winning this and maybe it's not, and I'm OK with that. I know what I put into this game, trying to get every ounce back doesn't really work, and I've tried that part.

"So, I just feel like so much of it has been just from making golf swings that feel good to me. They are not always the right one, I would say, for what maybe a commentator would look at, but picking the right ones."

Home later explained that, as long as he commits to his shots, he might as well close his eyes after he strikes the ball because the outcome doesn't matter nearly as much as the process. That is a remarkable way to play professional golf and one that can be 

Stars on the struggle bus

Golf is insane, part 832: Jose Maria Olazabal, who has played two events counted by the Official World Golf Rankings since Jan. 1, 2022, beat Jordan Spieth by three  strokesand Dustin Johnson by seven in the first two rounds at the hardest major in recent memory. I'm not sure if that says more about Olazabal or the two former Masters winners he beat, but I know it's not a great look for Spieth or D.J. as they head home earlier than expected.