Thomas Pieters may be a first-timer at Augusta National, but he's well on his way to contending for a green jacket on Sunday.
Fred Vuich
By Josh Sens
Friday, April 07, 2017

Saturday is moving day at Augusta, but Friday brought plenty of commotion, too, and it wasn’t just the loblollies waving in the wind. First-timers surged. Old-timers soared, and bad bounces (and bad shots) sent balls bounding into places they should never have been. By the end of day two at the Masters, here are five things we’d learned.

1. Experience isn’t everything.

For all the value placed on local knowledge, sometimes innocence is bliss. Witness the performance of Masters rookie Thomas Pieters, who saw Augusta for the first time on Monday and now finds himself in a tie for the lead. In second place, just two strokes back, is another Masters newbie, William McGirt.

2.  Maybe we make too much of the mystique

In this history-soaked setting, so many people speak in hushed and reverent tones. The smarter tack may be to talk like Pieters, who sounded anything but awestruck in describing Augusta. "It’s a lovely course," he said Friday after posting a four-under 68. "But it’s just another golf course."

3. Sergio Garcia still deserves that dang label

Expectations no longer shadow Sergio as they used to. But there is one thing he can’t escape. Heading into the weekend in a tie for the lead, he remains the best player to never win a major.

Until Sergio gets it done, he'll always hold the title of Best Player to Never Win a Major.
Robert Beck

4. Shanks and clanks can lead to the same score

We know that golf can be unfair, but this really underscored the point. On the par-five 15th, Hideto Tanihara hit a stone-cold shank that ranked among the most unsightly shots ever caught on camera at Augusta. He managed a bogey. Three holes later, on the par-four 18th, Tanihara’s playing partner Rory McIlroy played a shot so perfect, he got punished for it, as the ball rattled off the flagstick and bounded off the green. Rory’s tally? He made bogey, too.

5. Even when the Par-3 Contest is canceled, its curse persists

Winning the pre-tournament Par-3 Contest is seen as a bad omen, since no player has ever won it and the Masters in the same year. This year Par-Three was canceled due to inclement weather, but its dark influence endured. Just ask Mike Weir, who was tied for the lead in the par-three when it was called off. He went on to miss the cut.

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