Three bold young talents, sprung from three continents, and
they romped around Augusta like they'd spent their childhoods playing tag at
On the evidence of what Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Rickie
Fowler served up on Friday, golf's much-vaunted next generation have
emphatically arrived at the Majors.
the torchbearer. The 21-year-old Northern Irishman leads The Masters by two
shots at the halfway mark, having followed his opening 65 with a controlled second
round of 69.
He was less clinical than he might have been, and a handful
of spurned 10-footers will nag at him tonight. But it says everything about his
approach play that they were nearly all for birdies.
McIlroy has dropped just one shot in 36 holes, and is
striking the ball so well he has every reason to believe he can be the man
putting on the green jacket come Sunday.
Australian Day might have something to say about it. The
23-year-old shot a sensational eight-under-par round of 64 on Friday - birdying
five holes on the back nine to make sure he'll be reunited with McIlroy in the
final pairing on Saturday.
"I played lovely," he said. And he was right.
With McIlroy the tournament leader, and Day setting fire to
the course, Fowler was left to play a more peripheral role than he's used to.
The 22-year-old 'Jonas Brother of golf' shot a 69 to stand
on five under for the tournament, and played his part in a triumvirate who
thrilled the galleries at Augusta with their youthful exuberance.
People will talk about the rawness of their talent, but on
Friday all three were cooking. And by Sunday one of them could be done and
But here's where it gets really interesting. A former world
number one, who's suddenly remembered he's the best player ever to pick up
clubs, is ready to stand in their way.
Golf's next generation versus the master - now that's a
narrative with box office appeal.
Who in golf would not wish to see one of these young guns go
head-to-head with Woods for the green jacket on Sunday?
better motivation for Woods than a chance to show the pretenders to his throne
he's not ready to leave his seat yet.
- Will Tidey