Defending Masters champion struggling to find winning game

"Golf is tough", Watson said to a media member.

Apparently, Garcia had hit a provisional ball following a poor tee shot to start his final nine.

Defending Masters champion Danny Willett will play no part over the weekend after missing the cut at Augusta National.

The first hole Friday did Willett in as he made a quadruple-bogey 8.

"It's going to be a shame, potentially, to give it back on Sunday". If he knew how to hole putts from 10 feet, he could already be a threetime Masters champion.

Willett was one short of the record for highest score on No. 1.

"We've had two fabulous years and when you have a bit of a downturn, it feels like the world is coming to end", said Willett, who became the first reigning champ to depart early since Mike Weir in 2004.

It is an opinion that has gained credibility in the 12 months since, with Willett having failed to add to his title haul, while he summarised his Ryder Cup experience in one four-letter word which - based on a return of zero points from three matches - seemed appropriate.

For every outing that was a lark or a labor of love, like wearing the green jacket in the royals box at Wimbledon, or posing at the trophy ceremony with the young winners of the "Wee Willetts" golf foundation he established back near his hometown of Rotherham in the northwest of England, there were plenty he'd have preferred to skip.

They include Angel Cabrera (2009), Trevor Immelman (2008), Zach Johnson (2007), Vijay Singh (2000), Jose Maria Olazabal (1999, 1994) Mark O'Meara (1998) Bernhard Langer (1993, 1985), Ian Woosnam (1991) and Sandy Lyle (1988).

It has been an underwhelming season so far for the 29-year-old, who nonetheless is 17th in the world rankings.

Two amateurs - U.S. Amateur champion Curtis Luck (T-45) and U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Stewart Hagestad (T-19) - made the cut. I'm still within five of the lead going into the weekend with better conditions on the way. "I just hope this is the stage for it".

But on a star-studded leaderboard, the top 15 players were separated by just five shots and included Olympic gold medallist Justin Rose, the 57-year-old 1992 champion Fred Couples and 22-year-old rising star Jon Rahm on one under.

Montgomerie believes that caddies are playing a more important role in helping players with course strategy.

Plenty of others would love to have been in the same position.

Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus were due to act as honorary starters at 7.40am, with Masters officials opting not to bring in a replacement for the late Arnold Palmer, who performed the role from 2007-2016 before his death last September.

"There is more pressure as a Major champion". Hoffman and McGirt were the only players to shoot in the 60s and among just 11 to finish under par on Thursday in strong, gusty winds.

  • Julie Sanders