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Freddie steady while Tiger comes undone
Little did Joe LaCava know he was turning his back on a chance to make Masters history by going to work for Tiger Woods.
"I miss Joe, sure," Freddie Couples said of his old caddie on Friday.
"It’s very weird after 21, 22 years. It’s a long time to have him on the bag."
Joey, it's not too late.
LaCava should put in a call to his old friend who, on the 20th anniversary of his lone major victory, finds himself improbably tied for the lead going into the weekend at the age of 52.
Because his new boss doesn't really need him as much as he needs to meditate in a Buddhist monastery and contemplate his unseemly deconstruction at Augusta National.
As if LaCava doesn't know, Woods is a mess.
He’s not only lost his swing but the four-time Masters champion has lost the plot.
His second round on Friday was a master class in atrocious a ball-striking.
If a three-over par 75 - one of Woods' worst ever rounds here - can ever be good for a 14-time major champion then it was on Friday.
It got so bad that after spraying a straight-forward pitching wedge on the 16th, Woods dropped his club -- and, not for the first time, dropped some choice language -- and then kicked the wedge, as if it were the club's fault.
After two birdies in his first three holes, it looked like Woods would be in the thick of the race. But in the end he scrambled just to make the cut by two strokes.
"I was two-under through three and just blew that," he said.
Woods, who's hit only 19 greens in regulation — one less than Ian Woosnam — finds himself eight shots back and tied-for-40th at the midway point.
The biggest comeback in Masters history was by Bernard Langer in 1985. He was six back, tied for 25th after two rounds.
In short, Woods — who hit balls until dark on the range — will need an outbreak of anuerysms among the leaders if he's to win a fifth green jacket.
Not that he was conceding anything. In typical fashion, ignoring the obvious, Woods had visions of winning.
"Anybody can still win the golf tournament if they make the cut," he said.
And anybody can win the lottery if they buy a ticket.
Couples, unlike Woods, isn't on the outside looking in, hoping for miracles.
He's in the driver’s seat, tied for the lead after a wonderful second-round 67.
"Very shocking," he said.
I asked him if he understood that men his age don't win majors. That Julius Boros, at 49, was the oldest majors winner in history.
I stand out there and say, ‘What the hell?’ a lot. What do I have to lose here?” he joked.
But the competitor within Couples takes over once he realizes that he might just be a chance.
"I don’t feel old on this course just yet," he said.
"There will be a time when I sit here and tell you, 'Wow, I’m done thinking I’ll do well.' I come here with the idea of knowing that playing like I can I can still do well here, even if I’m 52 or 32.
He paused and thought for a moment.
"Thirty-two is a long lime ago," he said.
But what keeps him in the hunt, he says, is that he knows the course so well, and that he truly loves the place.
"It’s my favorite place in the world and I get really, really excited to be here," he said.
"A lot of tournaments I play in, at my age now, they are just golf tournaments. It’s another week of golf."
Not the Masters.
"I think I surprise a few people, but myself, if I get it going and I feel strong and drive it, I still feel like I can compete here and play, and that was my main goal when I came here," he said.
He's normally the epitome of laid back, but there were a few fist pumps on Friday when putts fell.
The birdie on 16, a snaking downhill putt, really got him pumped.
"Baaam!" said Boom-Boom.
He’s looking forward to the weekend and, though he likes his caddie, Cayce Kerr, it's not hard to see that he misses LaCava.
"Joe is a sports nut and I consider myself to be a sports nut," he said.
"Sometimes when you hang around with guys that are like that, it makes the day a lot easier. So try and tell Cayce that. Cayce wants to talk about other things and I say no, we want to talk about sports.
"(But) he has his wine company and he's a big traveler and all that stuff."
Irrespective, does Couples think he's got it in him to see this thing through to Sunday evening?
"Can I win? I believe I can, yes," he said.
And then what?
"It would be a walk-off. I am dead serious when I say that. You won't see me again.
"What a way to go."
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