LIVE BLOG of The Masters coverage

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5:50 p.m. - No idiots on the course. Phil Mickelson darts one to the 18th green and closes it out in championship style with a birdie. The cool thing is PhillyMick went out and won it - he didn't just survive while others made mistakes, he hit the big shots and the big putts. Cirque du Tiger will return at some unknown date at a yet-to-be-determined city. But the story today has a very happy ending for the Mickelsons and for everyone who watched.

Thanks to all who followed this blog.

5:40 p.m. - Tiger getting interviewed by Peter Kostis and tolerating it at best. "Quack" hook? Not only did he fall short today, he's gotta go home. Or where ever. Which is worse for him: Coming in 4th or coming in his front door these days?

5:34 p.m. - No mistakes on #16 for Phil who pars. Westwood so needed a birdie but didn't get it so he has to birdie both 17 & 18 and hope Phil doofs somewhere.

5:20 p.m. - Phil lands a body blow on #15 with his birdie while Westwood pars. 3 up with 3 to play. Now Kim and Westwood have to pray for the GIANT Idiot mistake. Cue the Mickelson family to get together on 18.

5:07 p.m. - Kim gets his par to stay -12 so he's hoping for the Big Idiot shot from Phil now.

5:02 p.m. - AK goes bunker-to-bunker on 18. He's gotta get up and down to keep his chances alive. Choi's back-to-back bogeys have knocked him out. Westwood's the only thing standing between Phil and a green jacket.

4:49 p.m. - And Phil blows the 4-foot eagle putt. Then Woods 3-jacks from 5 feet, and this time there will be no bouncing back. Get the Gulfstream warmed up.

4:42 p.m. - PhilleyMick throws a grenade at the golf gods. He hits an epic 2nd shot from behind a huge tree on the par 5 13th to within 4 feet. Another one for the all-time highlight reel. Amazing.

4:30 p.m. - PHIL! writes in a 2 for the par 3 #12 with an 18-footer. Leads by 1 over KJ. PHIL! Pushes driver into the woods. Put that thing away!!! AK! Another birdie to tie KJ at -12. Tiger almost knocks in a sand eagle on #13. Things are getting crazy.

4:17 p.m. - AK is putting for eagle to get within 1 of the lead and 3 ahead of Tiger. And...he...MAKES IT! Six under for the day with 3 holes left for him.

4:11 p.m. - Nick No TV Watney finally gets some facetime and it's his final putt on 18 for a 64. He misses just like CBS missed him today.

4:06 p.m. - Freddie Couples just became one of those guys who fall out of the running after dropping it in the drink at #12. Double bogey. Too bad. He was right there all the way. But now he's past tense. Tiger's bonking off trees. KJ's just a smooth machine.

3:58 p.m. - I write too soon. Phil gets out the magnolias to the fairway and then almost chips in. He'll par to stay tied for first. How come I never par after going in the woods?

3:50 p.m. - The lead's about to change thanks to KJ. The South Korean drops in a nice birdie on #10 to tie Phil. About 200 yards in back of Choi, PhilleyMick's ball is in unexplored territory way off the fairway.

3:45 p.m. - Phil backs into the lead after Westwood pulls a 5-foot par putt and drops to -11, tied with KJ who's got a clean card - 3 birds and 6 pars so far.

3:35 p.m. - Woods is like a vampire! He's immortal on the course but you gotta watch him at night. I can't believe it but he birdied again and the game is definitely back on. Only 3 back.

3:30 p.m. - It took 7 holes but Mickelson finally gets a biride after 6 straight pars. We're tied up at -12. OK, enough of the AT&T commercial with that Willy Wonka song.

3:20 p.m. - KJ Choi is so solid, and now he's tied with Phil. He's trying his best to carry Tiger along with him. Woods has gone eagle-birdie but he's 4 back. Freddie makes the turn at -3 for the day and only 2 off the lead. There's a lot of drama building for the back nine.

2:58 p.m. - A deflated Woods eagles from the fairway on #7 and gives it a smile of amusement rather than a fist pump or high five with Stevie Caddy.

2:52 p.m. - Westwood wrestles back the lead with a birdie on 5 as Phil's flop-a-dopolis misses the mark. KJ Choi and AK not ready to concede.

2:47 p.m. - Tiger's hating his tee shot on the par 6th. It's not that bad but he's a guy who is utterly defeated at this point. Game over for Woods.

2:40 p.m. - All tied up. Phil hits 3-wood again to Westwood's driver on 5. Ian Poulter runs to check where his ball lands and jumps (kind of) to get a better view. My wife says guys who dress like Poulter and jump like that...shouldn't.

2:33 p.m. - We're getting a lot of annoying lag on our TV signal. I don't know if it's Comcast or CBS but it's driving me nuts.

2:26 p.m. - I've also thought that on Masters Sunday, guys play their way out...one by one. Tiger Woods is starting to look like one of those guys after bogeying #4. He's got to play the next 5 holes in at least 2 under to have a chance to win.

2:21 p.m. - KJ is still getting the tape delay treatment. Nick "No TV" Watney played his front 9 in 4 under.

2:09 p.m. - The golf gods throw a grenade at PhillyMick when a random seed falls right into Phil's ball path and kicks his ball left. Westwood birdies to get his lead back. KJ and Tiger hit big par putts on 3. KJ stays 3 back but Woods is 5 off.

1:51 p.m. - Freddie! generates the roar with the big bending birdie putt. He gets within 2. C'mon, Freddie. Get that long putter going.

1:51 p.m. - Tiger leaves a bunker shot in the bunker. Don't see that...ever. KJ birdies. Choi is going 2 up on the sandy Woods.

1:40 p.m. - Phil has a birdie attempt at #1 slip by. Ouch. Westwood hit a tree branch, but hung on for bogey. All square.

1:40 p.m. - Tiger gets it back near the correct green from the incorrect fairway. Westwood pulls driver into the trees. Phil stripes a fairway wood. Very un-Phil-like. A little strategery?

1:38 p.m. - Phil walks to the first waving, slapping fives. Yep, he's pumped and so are his fans.

1:38 p.m. - Yikes. Woods snaps hooks off the #1 tee. Well, at least he didn't drop the f-bomb. KJ in the beach.

1:35 p.m. - Woods walks head down through the crowd to the 1st tee. I bet you see a different entrance from Phil.

1:33 p.m. - Dream shots are falling. Nathan Green (in 48th place) aces #16. His day is made. Adam Scott eagles from the fairway. Now start Tiger and KJ.

1:00 p.m. - Everyone in your seats? My family and I are gathered around the living room TV. The brats are cooking. Loving the intro. One of the best afternoon's of the year begins.

9:30 a.m. - The live blog begins today when CBS starts their broadcast. I'm looking forward to seeing what they put together for their intro video.

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5:42 p.m. - The curtain closes on Act 3. The finale awaits. Lee Westwood runs through his first fire of the final pairing in the final round. What can Phil Mickelson possibly do for an encore? Tiger Woods battled big-time and scratched enough to stay in contention when it looked like the wheels were almost off. KJ Choi may again face tape delay tomorrow as Woods silent partner, but he's in the same position as Tiger. Freddie Couples will probably need at least another 68 like he delivered today, but that's entirely possible. Hunter Mahan, Ricky Barnes (hmmm...), and Ian Poulter will need to pull out career rounds to make it happen. Anthony Kim has to set another Masters record to pull this one out. But given the ups and downs and drama thus far, maybe we should expect the unexpected.

5:42 p.m. - Tiger and KJ buddy-up again in the final round. One will be wearing red. The still-with-Nike boys.

5:38 p.m. - Disappointing day for Anthony Kim and his patrons. AK shoots a 73 and will need to shoot about a 64 tomorrow to win. Meanwhile, Tiger, struggling to find air, throws a dart dammit at the 18th pin. He'll birdie and that will get him to within 4 of Westwood and 3 of Phil. You can't count out Sir Cheats-A-Lot.

5:28 p.m. - Phil goes flop and down to finish with a 67. Tiger fighting for his Masters life on 17 - misses his scrambling par attempt and pauses for a silent, head down, "you suck" moment.

5:13 p.m. - Westwood grabs sole control of first place with birdie on 15. The lead could grow as Mickelson hits the "fore" ball push into 18's greenside gathering. Now a lot of rich people will have to move their chairs so he can whap it with that 64 degree wedge.

5:13 p.m. - Westwood rifles his 2nd shot straight at the 15th pin but it runs off to his left. He has a 25-footer for eagle and a 2-stroke lead. Tell me he wouldn't love to put some cushion between himself and that guy from another dimension.

5:04 p.m. - Woods runs in a clutch birdie on #15 - not the eagle he wanted - but a bird keeps him in the mix. And the same goes for KJ (tape delay) Choi who stays tied with Tiger at -8. Have 2 guys ever played all 4 rounds together?

4:58 p.m. - Mahan closes out a "moving day" round with a good move - a birdie on 18 to finish with a 68 and -6 overall. Hunter's hoping for increased TV facetime tomorrow.

4:53 p.m. - Ricky Barnes, looking very buffed-out, is on a roll of 3 straight birds. Does the PGA do testing? Just asking.

4:51 p.m. - Woods tees off on the par 5 15th knowing this is his final par 5 and his last real chance at a eagle he desperately needs...and he almost swings out of his shoes clobbering a huge drive. That was what he needed. Now can he close the deal?

4:40 p.m. - Phil Mickelson is playing in another dimension! I can't believe what he's doing. Almost 3 freaking eagles in a row. This is the most unbelievable golf sequence I've ever seen.

4:38 p.m. - Freddie! chips in for eagle. Has 3rd place to himself now at #15. The eagles are landing! Anthony Kim finally gets on TV with a birdie at #14 to get into a tie for 5th.

4:34 p.m. - The place is still buzzing over Mickelson's back-to-back eagles. Westwood and Poulter are messing up #12. Westwood bogies to drop into tie with Mr. Eagle-Eagle while Poulter doubles to fall to -5 and tied for 6th, 6 strokes back. Remember this dude was tied for 1st about 4 hours ago.

4:19 p.m. - OMG, PHIL! holes it from 139 yards out. The crowd ERUPTS so loudly that all the birds fly out of the trees! That will be on CBS's preview videos for years to come.

4:19 p.m. - Freddie! now tied for 4th with KJ Choi (who's getting the tape-delay treatment).

4:14 p.m. - I just realized that Tiger is 7 shots back. He needs to hit the gas because he cannot make up 7 tomorrow (can he?).

4:12 p.m. - Now there's a roar! Phil finds the eagle to go to -9 and gets within 3 strokes of suspiciously muscled Westwood.

4:07 p.m. - Westwood birdies #10. Nobody birdies #10. Make this guy pee in a cup!

4:00 p.m. - You gotta love Phil. He takes the maximum cut off the dogleg left 13th. Could have easily caught the creek, instead has a medium iron to set up an eagle that he could really use.

3:44 p.m. - Here comes the Hunter. Mahan birdies again to move into 4th by himself at -6. Hunter be getting more TV time now.

3:48 p.m. - Gutsy performance by Poulter. After back-to-back bogeys on #5 & #6, he drives home back-to-back birdies on #7 & #8. Wait, eeewww, the peacock just missed birdying #9 as well.

3:44 p.m. - The 3D animations that CBS uses to preview the holes really helps show how much more hilly Augusta is compared to the perspective from the TV cameras. Speaking of 3D, has anyone watched the 3D telecast? I bet it's very cool.

3:37 p.m. - Westwood settles for birdie at #8 to open a 4-hot lead. Tiger makes the turn after playing the front in even-par, which I'm sure is irritating after starting out by birdying 2 of the first 3 holes...dammit..

3:30 p.m. - Lee Westwood is threatening to break this round wide open. He's looking at eagle on #8 for a potential 5-shot lead.

3:27 p.m. - Tiger's having a Sergio-like round so far - 3 birdies, 3 bogeys, 2 pars. Sneaking up the board is Hunter Mahan who has the magic wand putter working again today. Hunter is at 5 under, in 6th place now.

3:22 p.m. - Wow. Peter Kostis on CBS says "Ian Poulter may be the best fast green putter there is." And BANG! Poulter rolls in a 35-foot downhill bomb to get back to -7. No Peter Kostis jinx at this place, only the Faldo.

3:18 p.m. - Little disappointed with Poulter's outfit. Very subdued...unlike Tiger's emotions right now. Phil barely misses another putt. They are not falling for him so far today. He could easily be -11 instead of -8. And you know he frustratingly knows it. Still, he's all alone in 2nd.

3:09 p.m. - The muscular Westwood straight-up yanks his tee shot on #7 into the left woods just after Nick Faldo got through explaining how driver is Lee's favorite club and how his swing coach has been working with him. Jinx.

3:07 p.m. - Woods pull hooks off the tee on #7 and spends the next half minute giving himself a tee box lesson which seemed a little odd. Phil's eagle putt looked like money but unbelievably slid off the edge. Tiger's 2nd shot brings out back-to-back dammits. He's on the dammit train. On the other track, the Westwood par train keeps chuggin'

2:49 p.m. - Woods not a happy Tiger after pulling tee shot on par 3 #6. The TV audio clearly picks up him saying, "Tiger...Woods...you suck. Dammit!" There's the Tiger we know. Meanwhile, the scrambling Mickelson launches a missle right at the pin on the par 5 #8. Has a shot at eagling a hole he doubled yesterday. Tiger 3-jacks the par 3. The greenside mics weren't apparently functioning.

2:20 p.m. - Phil and Tiger bogey on par putts they should have made. They drop to 3 behind Westwood after Lee coolly nails a 14-footer at #4 - the hole that Woods just bogeyed ahead of him. This guy Westwood...something still fishy.

2:20 p.m. - Strong intro by CBS and the great Jim Nance. Gives me chills. The team that puts together these video intros should get raises. They are amazing.

2:20 p.m. - Woods birdies #3 to tie Phil for 2nd. How would you like to be Lee Westwood hearing the roars ahead of him? I'd feel like I'm hearing an approaching storm. A real powerful storm. I'd be freaking out.

2:04 p.m. - Let's get this party started! Everybody's off #1. Phil's off to a big start with birdies at 2 & 3. He's tied for 2nd with Ian Poulter (haven't seen Ian's outfit yet today but I'm sure it's "special"), just 1 behind Westwood who birdie the opening hole. Tiger birdied the first also and sits third, just 2 back at -7.

9:45 a.m. - The live blog begins a little later today because I'll be on ChicagoNow Radio at 11 a.m. The big story of the Masters so far for me is that there are so many great storylines on the leaderboard after the opening rounds.

The British Invasion - Across the pond, golf-crazy England is so hoping that one of their lads can come back wearing the first green jacket since Nick Faldo overcame a 6-stroke deficit to Greg Norman on the final day of the 1996 Masters. Fashion bug Ian Poulter and his low-key mate Lee Westwood share the lead at the halfway house. There will be a lot of tellies tuned in after supper tonight in Jolly Ol'.

Cirque du Tiger - I guess we now all know the answer to the question "Did Tiger choose the right tournament for his re-entry?" I'm really surprised he's played this well because I thought he'd be carrying way too much personal baggage. I'm beginning to think that Augusta chairman Billy Payne's public scolding flipped on the "I'll show you" switch in Woods psyche. That, I think, changed the game in Tiger's mind.

Attack of the Seniors - Few thought Freddie Couples would be a major factor at Augusta, and nobody figured on Tom Watson. Logic says they can't stay in contention this weekend, but how compellingly great is it to have them up there now, and wouldn't you love to see more senior moments in the final rounds?

The Rising Star of Anthony Kim - It's just flat-out fun to watch AK's rip it attitude and crazy talent. If he fires off a 65 like he did last year, he's going to win this thing. Of course, Augusta has another "tradition unlike any other" - it punishes the risk-takers.

The People's Choice - PhillyMick - Listening to the patrons reactions on the course, it's clear that nobody has their affections like Phil Mickelson. Tiger is getting roars but Phil gets the love. He's tied with Tiger going into this afternoon and I think he knows exactly who he has to first beat to have a chance at his 2nd jacket.

Kings of South Korea - K.J. Choi and Y.E. Yang have no fear of Tiger Woods, and if you aren't intimidated by TW than nothing except the course will get in your way if you're hot. K.J. obviously had no problem playing even-up with the world's biggest distraction the first two rounds. Yang stared down Tiger at the last year's PGA and raised the trophy (respectfully but noticeably) in his face.

And there's more great stories out there. What a tournament.

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6:03 p.m. - As the curtain comes down on Act 2, the drama has been set up for this weekend. Two Englishmen, Westwood and Poulter, are tied for the lead and will play together on Saturday. Tiger has played extremely well in the center stage spotlight. PhillyMick is even with Woods and will have the crowd on his side. The tough South Koreans, KJ and YE, are positioned to make history. Anthony Kim is only 2 off the lead and is hitting amazing shots. The AARP duo of Couples and Watson slipped down the board but remain very much in contention.

Saturday. Act 3.

6:00 p.m. - Angel Cabrera drops in a tough birdie putt on 18 to make the cut. Was there ever a doubt? Jim Furyk closes out his Masters with a 76, 12 over par overall. This will not be the first year an almost-bald guy wins it.

5:55 p.m. - Nice graphic on ESPN about how Lee Westwood has never been the leader or co-leader in any round of any major. Until today. I'm telling you...there's something fishy going on...

5:50 p.m. - AK mangles 18. Hits the trees, lands in a divot in the rough. Loses his footing hitting shot #2 causing the ball to fly into the gallery. Hits a weak wedge before lagging one up nicely for a bogey. Phil birdies 17 to get to -6. Ishikawa has to make an 18-footer to make the cut. Just missed the putt and the cut. That would hurt.

5:30 p.m. - Westwood battles to a bogey to tie Poulter at the top. AK has 1 hole left to catch them. Manassero will play this weekend!

5:20 p.m. - AK drops in the gimmee to move within 2 of Westwood and 1 of Poulter. Phil has the groundskeepers come out and blow off the 15th green. They get a round of applause. Angel Cabrera coolly nails a birdie on 16 to get him to the cut line at +3. No big deal.

5:10 p.m. - Westwood pushes his tee shot on 18 into the trees and looks around like something distracted him during his swing. But he was looking almost upwards like it was something above the crowd. Weird. Looks like we may be looking at co-leaders going into tomorrow.

5:04 p.m. - Wow. AK is FEELING IT. He took dead aim at the pin on the par 3 16th and it's only 3 feet away from Kim being at -7 and having 3rd place to himself.

4:59 p.m. - Kim missed the eagle chip but drops in the birdie to tie Tiger, KJ, and Ricky B. in 3rd. Playing partner Ernie Els thought he went in the water and almost dropped another ball but the gallery yelled "No!" before he released it. What's the rule if he had dropped it? My guess is he'd have to play the 2nd ball with a stroke penalty and then he'd punch himself in the face.

4:55 p.m. - Sounds strange to hear Jim Nance on ESPN, doesn't it?

4:51 p.m. - Watson and Couples could be paired tomorrow since both are at -3. AK rips a tremendous 2nd shot on 15 and will have a short chip for eagle. This guy's talent is as good as anyone out here including Woods. He is going to be a handful this weekend.

4:43 p.m. - Watson fails to get out of beach. 2nd try, almost holes it. Would have been nice if he could have repeated his birdie from yesterday instead of dropping a stroke. Phil wedges into the green on 14 and gets no spin so he's stuck on the back about 35 feet away. He says something to himself like "Seriously?"

4:35 p.m. - Westwood recovers from the double with a bird on #15 regrabbing the lead. That has to give him some breath back. Tom Watson's playing 18 and dumps his 2nd shot in the green-side bunker. Phil just exploded a drive down the middle of the fairway on #14.

4:30 p.m. - How cool would it be if 16-year-old Matteo Manassero can avoid disaster and make the cut? He's at +1 after 14 with a projected cut line at +3.

4:29 p.m. - How lucky is Anthony Kim? He snap hooks his drive on 14 into the trees and it bounces out into the fairway where he hits a line drive that rolls just off the back of the green. AK could easily have been facing a Westwood double-bogey situation. Now he's looking to birdie.

4:27 p.m. - The more you look at Ian Poulter's opening pair of 68's, the more impressive it looks. He'll be feeling so good, he may dress real crazy tomorrow.

4:19 p.m. - The way the final holes are playing, Phil's going to find birdie opps rare after #13 where he taps in to get to -5 with AK.

4:13 p.m. - Westwood can't wait to leave #14. Doubles it and drops into a tie for 1st place. Well, he has a chance to get one back on the par 5 #15 but 14 was a hook to the jaw.

4:05 p.m. - AK drains a 25-footer to save par after reaching the par 5 in 2. OK, AK, regroup. Tom Watson is hanging tough after posting 2 birds in last 4 holes. Still tied for 7th with PhillyMick who is exiting Amen Corner with a string of pars. Just barely cut the corner on 13 so he'll be looking to get a red number here.

4:00 p.m. - One of the problems with live blogging is when your internet goes down. But on with the show now. Westwood's trying to survive #14 and Kim is struggling on #13.

2:27 p.m. - KJ birdies #16 to tie Woods and AK in 3rd.

2:16 p.m. - ESPN turns on their light for a couple minutes. I love the desk for Scott Van Pelt and Andy North. It looks a TV tray table rack with a kidney-shaped granite top. Ian Poulter is just throwing darts like he's in a pub. Everything he's hitting is dead-on. He birdies 16 to tie for lead at 9 under. Phil gives one back on #5. Tiger duffed an eagle chip on 15 and then drained a tough birdie putt to tie AK in 3rd at -6. Freddie looking for massage therapist.

1:55 p.m. - Freddie finishes with another bogey for a 75. Tied for 9th. Something must be messed up with his back. Maybe we'll hear something in the press room.

1:49 p.m. - Westwood goes to -9 after birdie on #7. Barnes bogies the par 5 #13, drops back to -5. For some reason, we've hit a wild streak of ups and downs, after very little movement early on.

1:43 p.m. - Adam Scott's bogeyed 3 of his last 4 holes. He's now at even par overall.

1:40 p.m. - Freddie bogies #17, too. He's limping to the finish. Drops to a tie for 9th with Tom Watson.

1:34 p.m. - PhillyMick birdies #3 to take it down to 6 under, tied with Ricky Barnes. Cut line sits at +2 with a ton of guys sitting within a stroke or 2 of it.

1:31 p.m. - Tiger and Freddie now tied as Woods birdies #13 while Freddie bogeys #16. Westwood birdies the par 3 #6 to tie Poulter again at top.

1:20 p.m. - That tie didn't last long as Westwood bogeys #5. Watson bogeys #7 to drop to -4 and tied for 8th.

1:18 p.m. - 2 Brits on top! Poulter birdies to tie Westwood at 8 under. Freddie gets his birdie to get back to -6, 2 behind the Englishmen.

1:10 p.m. - AK gets it going. Kim birdies #3 to move to 5 under, tied for 5th.

1:06 p.m. - Ian Poulter is taking FOREVER to decide what to hit for his 2nd shot on the par 5 13th. He finally hits it on the green with a 5-wood but making your playing partners wait so long is rude. "Hey, Ian. While we're young!"

1:04 p.m. - Freddie's walking like I do when my back is bothering me. Still, he hits a 70-yard wedge from a downhill lie and sticks it to 2 feet. His back is feeling better.

12:59 p.m. - Phil's started. Pars #1. Tiger's 2nd round is looking more like a typical 1st round for him. He's even par on the day.

12:55 p.m. - Freddie falls 3 off after bogeying #14. Poulter drops in a bird on #12 (no small feat) to get to 7 under. Things are starting to shake.

12:52 p.m. - OK. Something's going on. Westwood birdied #3 to move to 8 under. I'm wondering if his clubs are legit. I'm not saying, I'm just saying.

12:47 p.m. - Like the Cubs Tyler Colvin did last night, Matt Kuchar knocks one into the seats on #11. Hey, somebody got the 1st of the day on #11. It's Steve Stricker, who needed it to get to 3 over. Steve could use a few more.

12:41 p.m. - Ian Poulter's sweater vest has a clown-like quality to it. Ian not clowning around today as he's -2 on the day and 1 shot off the lead at 6 under.

12:36 p.m. - Lee "Seriously?" Westwood eagles #2 to takeover first place at -7.

12:27 p.m. - Tom Watson is testing his nerves. 1st 4 holes: bogey, birdie, bogey, birdie.

12:17 p.m. - Woods makes the turn at even for the day. Still 2 back at 4 under. Not much moving yet on "moving day."

12:14 p.m. - Freddie missed out on two real birdie opps on #10 & #11 and settled for pars.

12:01 p.m. - Watson rallies back to birdie #2. Gets back to -5.

11:57 a.m. - No eagle for you! Tiger settles for par today on #8. Stays 2 back for now at -4.

11:50 a.m. - Sandy Lyle's round mercifully ends. An 86 after a 69 yesterday. Has there ever been a bigger swing?

11:47 a.m. - Watson starts with a bogie. Poulter birdies #8 to tie for lead at -6 with Barnes and Freddie.

11:29 a.m. - Villegas and Rory McIlroy have the popped shirt collars but aren't popping enough birdies. Camilio's at +1 today and +3 overall. Rory is birdie-free today and +5 overall. He needs to start cranking if he wants to play this weekend.

11:26 a.m. - Tom Watson is walking briskly to the first tee. The course is playing longer than yesterday. Can the older TW outscore the younger TW again?

11:24 a.m. - Freddie closes out the front side with a bogie to drop into a tie with Ricky Barnes. Woods is almost to the par 5 8th that he eagled yesterday. He played the 4 par 5's in 5 under in round 1. Yikes.

11:15 a.m. - Don't look now but Kenny Perry has nailed back-to-back birdies and is 5 strokes back at -2.

11:05 a.m. - Nick No TV bogies again to fall to -2 overall.

11:05 a.m. - Sergio has a Sergio-type front nine going - 3 pars, 3 bogies, 2 birds thru 8.

10:58 a.m. - Masters.com flashed a graphic saying Vijay Singh has zero top 10 finishes in last 14 majors. He'll be 0-for-15 after today as he's at +8 with his yellow ball and sore back.

10:51 a.m. - Sandy Lyle is tragically at +14 on the day after 14 holes. The good news is he's settled down into playing bogey golf.

10:48 a.m. - Tiger bogies the par 3 #4 dropping him back into a tie with Nike running mate Anthony Kim who goes off this afternoon.

10:40 a.m. - Ricky Barnes is out of control. He's birdied 2 & 3. Within one of Freddie. On the other side, Nick Watney bogies again to fall back to -3. Get it together, Nick, or you'll be TV invisible again.

10:36 a.m. - Ross Fisher was GC's Frank Nobilo's darkhorse pick before the tournament. At +8 overall, Fisher is making Frank look bad. Speaking of looking bad, what's with Ryan Moore wearing a necktie? A tribute to Bobby Jones or did he lose a bet?

10:27 a.m. - Poulter, Barnes, and Woods climbing the board. Who'd have thought Ricky Barnes would be beating out Paddy Harrington as Wilson Staff's best Masters player?

9:25 a.m. - Fear the big putter! Freddie birdies #2 to take a 2 stroke lead. The first group has made the turn. They may be done in time for a late breakfast. Meanwhile, Watney bogied #6 to drop back to -5. My man Zach Johnson is even par steady after 2 and sits in the weeds tied for 15th. Good strategy. Sandy Lyle must be having a stroke. Somebody help Sandy! He's 10 over par on the first 8 holes.

8:58 a.m. - Camilio Villegas with the cut body is flirting with the cut line. He bogies his first hole today to go to +3. Nick Watney, who received miniscule TV time yesterday, has moved into a 2nd place tie after a birdie on #5 to go to -5.

8:51 a.m. - Freddie Couples has started his round. Sandy Lyle has hopefully finished throwing up on his FootJoys. He finally got a par on #6 after going +8 on the first 5 holes.

8:38 a.m. - Curtis Strange is on ESPN saying he thinks 12 under will win this year because although it's a little windy today, the weekend is forecasted to be ideal for scoring. BTW, the cut line at Augusta is everyone in the top 44 or within 10 strokes of the leader.

8:15 a.m. - Act 2 of Cirque du Tiger. The stage is set. The first groups are off. Unfortunately for Sandy Lyle, he's way off. Lyle shot a throwback 69 yesterday but today he must have had a bad breakfast, starting out double bogey, bogey, double bogey, bogey. 6 over par on the first 4 holes. He's now at +3 overall.

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6:22 p.m. - Act 1 of Cirque du Tiger closes to a rousing ovation. The leaderboard is loaded with big names and old faces. Freddie Couples and Tom Watson are on Page One. There's Phil and Tiger, just off the lead. Young guns Anthony Kim, Ian Poulter, Adam Scott are right there. Two tough South Koreans, Y.E. and K.J. are pushing the top.

Can't wait for Act 2.

6:13 p.m. - Matt Kuchar, who's done well for having played in the circus, is taking over 15 minutes trying to figure out how to deal with a tree and some kind of wall after pulling his tee shot on 18. Now it's raining on the guy. Woods and Choi are probably thinking "just hit the ball!"

6:05 p.m. - Ian Poulter is wearing pink and white shoes. You won't find these in the men's department. Steve Stricker is going with the pink shirt, and after the way he's played today, you can bet you won't see him in pink tomorrow.

5:55 p.m. - In postgame, Curtis Strange twice asks Freddie "What are you up to?" Couples doesn't have any idea what Strange is asking, and neither does anyone else. "What are YOU up to, Strange?"

5:44 p.m. - K.J. Choi quietly rips off 4 consecutive birdies and sits in 2nd at -5. OK, so K.J. and Woods are now the scamble team winners.

5:41 p.m. - Pretty good day for scoring. There are going to be about 30 players under par. Last year, there were 38 guys who were in red numbers after day 1.

5:30 p.m. - Another eagle for Woods. "A creature in his own habitat," says the ESPN announcer. I'm not going to say anything about that.

5:27 p.m. - Boom-Boom hits his approach into 18, says "Oh, boy," and watches it spin to about 8 feet. 65 would be "Oh, BOY!" But he misses and finishes with ONLY a 66. Freddie will sleep well tonight.

5:21 p.m. - Let's hear it for Charl Schwartzel! Who? Nobody, except somebody who's 3 under. Booyah!

5:17 p.m. - Hey, it's Stewart Cink and Padraig. Where you guys been? Cink at +3 will need a big day tomorrow to make the cut. Paddy's just one over. Go Wilson!

5:13 p.m. - Freddie Couples??? Minus six??? Today has been a great day for familiar names. Great day for all-day Masters viewing.

5:12 p.m. - Nick Faldo is asked about Woods' putting and rambles on for almost a minute about how good it is - "a model for everyone." Then Tiger misses a 5-footer. Jinx.

5:07 p.m. - Former champ Zach Johnson in at 70. Good start for the good guy. Hard to believe Jim Furyk was 10 shots worse.

5:04 p.m. - Play is noticeably slowing way down. Getting a bit sleepy. Whoa! Woods just yacked one and gave the ol' Tiger treatment. Yelled something...I didn't hear nasty words. But thanks for waking things up!

4:52 p.m. - Tiger's eagle run lips out. Center-cuts the birdie. -3. 2 out of lead.

4:45 p.m. - Woods hit best 2nd shot of day at 13. 10 feet left for eagle and be 1 shot out of lead. Gets big hand when he reaches green, and then walks right through Matt Kuchar's line. Thanks, buddy.

4:39 p.m. - FREDDIE! Drops in another bird at 15 and grabs a share of lead. Amazing! Golf Galaxy could be selling a lot of long putters this weekend.

4:28 p.m. - Sightings on masters.com of Ian Poulter and Adam Scott. Poulter going with the pastel aqua with a touch of pink. Adam has the large female gallery.

4:20 p.m. - Tiger almosts jars it on #12. Crowd goes wild. Off in the distance, Sergio, hearing a distant roar, knows all the mojo has been sucked out of the air.

4:13 p.m. - Freddie...back-to-back birds with the belly. -4 after 14. Boom-boom!

4:10 p.m. - Kenny Perry finds a nut! He eagles #15 to get back to even par.

4:06 p.m. - Padriag can't get the Wilson Staff clubs humming. He's +2 after 12 and has spent the day scrambling.

4:02 p.m. - The first near-tantrum from Woods (he catches himself almost slamming his driver in the ground) after he badly pushes his tee shot into the right trees, where...it kicks straight out again just off the fairway! Sergio knows there's only so much good mojo around and Woods is beating him to it.

3:57 p.m. - Woods kind of scars a little pitch leaving him a downhill 9-footer. He hangs the par putt on the lip. Bogey. Garcia hears birds singing in the distance lining up his birdie putt. The putt catches the edge of the cup and uses the whole rim before dropping.

3:50 p.m. - Phil's postgaming with Tirico and Strange. He's got some crazy long hair deal going on the back side. Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy chips in with a sigh of relief. I guess because he's +2.

3:48 p.m. - Zach hits a birdie in the rain to move to -2. Only one back of Woods.

3:42 p.m. - Watney is standing over a little 5 foot putt for a LONG time. And he pushes it 4 feet past. Obviously that one made him nervous. Makes the comebacker for bogey. Slips to -4.

3:40 p.m. - Woods hooks his tee shot on #10 into the trees but it kicks back nicely, just off the fairway. Sergio feels a cold shiver.

3:38 p.m. - Another birdie for Woods. He (and Matt Kuchar) are tied for today's best front nine with 33's.

3:35 p.m. - Too funny. Sergio barely missed a 15-footer, walked halfway to the hole, stopped, bent over and looked at the green, and tapped down what apparently was a shot-altering defect. He just can't help himself.

3:33 p.m. - Nick Watney hasn't been on TV yet and rarely on masters.com, is now tied for the lead with 2 holes to play. How'd that happen? Nick is sneaky, while Freddie Couples casually drops in a bird on #12 to move to -3.

3:28 p.m. - Tiger, hot off the lucky eagle, has a 2nd shot on 9 where he has to hit a banana hook around trees to hit the green. Does he go for it or just lay it up? Here he goes....if the gusts stop...there it goes...big bender...hits the front of the green and runs it just past the hole. So much for being rusty.

3:19 p.m. - Garcia, birdie putt from 12 feet....runs it 4 feet past. Looks at his putter head like it's defective. Freddie Couples is having a good round (-2) thanks to that belly putter. Maybe he can get one for Sergio to use tomorrow. Hey, Shingo Katayama isn't wearing the button-up cowboy hat. What the heck. That's his signature look.

3:16 p.m. - I think I just saw Vijay Singh playing a YELLOW ball on #14. Maybe I'm getting tired. Whoa...Tiger takes advantage of the lucky bounce to hit the eagle. Somewhere Sergio Garcia is cursing in envy.

3:10 p.m. - Woods bogeys 7 missing a downhill 6-footer, drops back to even. Then gets a very fortunate bounce toward the hole on the par 5 8th. He's looking at about a 10-foot eagle attempt. Meanwhile, my guy Zach Johnson makes the turn at -1.

3:00 p.m. - The worldwide leader starts their coverage with a sweet leaderboard.

2:52 p.m. - Wind is gusting. Here comes the storm. Masters.com is showing what looks like some guys suddenly running off the course while others are still playing. Funny.

2:37 p.m. - Phil and Y.E. par out for 68's and a share of the lead. If they were a scramble team, they would win today.

2:25 p.m. - Lee Westwood meeting the press after round. I've never seen a golfer rocking so many sponsor logos. Has a NASCAR thing going.

2:15 p.m. - AK finishes with 5 birdies on last 7 holes for a 68. Beats that 75 he threw out in Round 1 last year.

2:11 p.m. - Ernie Ells can't get out of bunker at 18. Hey, I do that all the time. Stay in the beach and double-bogey. That's a killer for Ells. He drops from -3 to -1.

1:53 p.m. - Lee "The fix is in" Westwood birdies 18 to tie Watson, Mickelson, and Yang at top.

1:53 p.m. - Phil and Y.E. birdie to tie for lead. Y.E. has got some fancy outfit going on today. Must be helping...

1:50 p.m. - Jim Furyk is drowning. Just hit 2 into the aqua at #16. Needs to hit this putt for a triple-bogey. He's going to be at least 7 over. Flirting with an 80. OMG.

1:45 p.m. - Wow. Phil and Y.E. both putting for eagle on 15. Tom Watson's lead in jeopardy. Tiger at -1 after 3 and better have some rain pants ready.

1:42 p.m. - The wind's kicking up. It's going to rain soon at Augusta. The morning tee-time guys may catch a big break today.

1:35 p.m. - PHIL! Eagles, then birds to go to -4 and tie for 2nd. Now he's got that crazy par 5 #15 that crushed Paul Casey who bogied 16 and is still reeling.

1:27 p.m. - Y.E. Yang, who beat back Tiger Woods to win last year's PGA, is on fire with 4 birdies in his last 5 holes. Tied for 2nd at -4.

1:22 p.m. - Paul "3 birds in a row" Casey just had a nightmare on the par 5 #15 and gave all the strokes back after a triple-bogey. I'd be destroying every azalea I could find if this happened to me.

1:12 p.m. - I KNEW there was something fishy about Lee Westwood's betting odds being illogically low considering his 2010 results. Sure enough, Westwood is charging in the home stretch and is in 2nd at -4.

1:10 p.m. - Tom Watson birdied 18 and he is 60 freakin' years-old and he's the clubhouse leader at 5-under! Maybe the big story is NOT Tiger.

1:05 p.m. - Cabrera doubles the par 5 #13 to drop to -1. Major missed opportunity but he looked like it didn't bother him at all. Just a shoulder shrug. Angel's so cool.

1:00 p.m. - Paul Casey has ripped off 3 straight birds. -3 after 14. And #15 is a par 5. 4 straight?

12:58 p.m. - AK eagles #13 to get back to -2. How much did he need that?

12:46 p.m. - Tiger gets relief before 2nd shot. Did Billy Payne step on the ball?

12:43 p.m. - Matt Kuchar and K.J. Choi stripe the fairway after Tiger. Poor Matt. His face looks flushed and splotchy. He came through, though and drilled it.

12:41 p.m. - Live coverage on ESPN of TW teeing off #1. Not his favorite hole. Rips it down the right side of the fairway. Here we go...

12:35 p.m. - 250-1 TOM WATSON! Masters leaders after birdies on 15 & 16. Toms bogies 18 to finish at -3.

12:31 p.m. - Yep...AK three-putts for the bogey. Ells drops in his 10-footer for birdie to go to -3.

12:28 p.m. - Kim's tee shot on the par 3 12th puts him in 3-jack territory. Not good. But playing partner Ernie Ells is looking at birdie.

12:26 p.m. - Jim Furyk drops one in the drink on 11 and goes double-double to start the backnine. +4. OUUUCCHH. Phil coming to #10 which has been the toughest hole so far.

12:18 p.m. - Long-hitting Dustin Johnson is mangling the par 5's where he's got to do well. He's gone par-DOUBLE-par on the 1st three. A lot of people thought he'd be in the chase (and he's still -1) but the par 5's are screwing with him now.

12:13 p.m. - I must have jinked AK. Kim just bogeyed 10. Drops back to -2. Then hits a crappy short wedge on 11.

12:11 p.m. - Tiger and Hank Haney going thru the putting green drills. TW's outfit very subdued. Aww, Langer just messed up 17 to drop back to -2. Steve Marino still hanging tough in 2nd at -3 with Rodney Dangerfield Cabrera.

12:01 p.m. - Defending champ Angel Cabrera shows he deserves some more respect by jamming the turn at -3. In the GC studio, Notah Betay continues to shine. Talks about playing with the hardest hitting guy in the field Alviro Quiros who generates ball speeds of 190 mph. Unfortunately for Alviro, he's fired out to +4 after just going double, bogey-bogey to start the backside.

11:54 a.m. - 43-year-old Louisianan David Toms goes birdie-birdie at 15 &16 to take lead at -4. These great morning scores make you wonder how things will go for the afternoon groups after the front blows through. (Oh, no...Golf Channel playing that TW/Nike commercial again. Still creepy.)

11:49 a.m. - Here comes AK! Just birdied the tough #9 to make the turn tied for 1st at -3.

11:40 a.m. - 17-year-old Matteo Manassero tied at -1 with Phil and Ernie. How cool must he feel? At 17 I was mowing lawns.

11:35 a.m. - Langer uses the XL putter to drop in crazy bomb on 16 to take lead. He does the airplane move.

11:24 a.m. - Six tied at top at -2 (Langer, Watson (!), Toms, AK, Cabrera, Marino). Kim getting to Amen Corner. PhillyMick -1 thru 6. Looking good.

10:26 a.m. - Angel Cabrera and Jim Furyk start hot, 2-under after 3. Langer bogeying Amen Corner. Back to -1.

9:52 a.m. - The word always associated with the Nike/Tiger commercial is "creepy." CNN, ESPN, ESPN1000, The Score, WGN...

9:44 a.m. - Past champion Bernhard Langer (hot off the Seniors Tour) makes the turn as co-leader at 3-under. Fellow champion seniors aren't fairing as well. Craig Stadler is +11, Ian Woosnam +6. Langer's tied with Steve Marino who's only played 6 holes.

9:30 a.m. - Most of the early TV/radio/web talk this morning centered on Chairman Payne's rant on TW. It will be nice to get beyond that little ditty and focus on play.

9:24 a.m. - Tom Watson birdies 2 of first 3 holes. How's that for a 250-1 longshot?

7:40 a.m. - A legendary start...

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6:43 p.m. - Two hot discussion topics will come out of today. First a new Nike commercial ran just now again (6:43 p.m.) featuring Tiger Woods with a voiceover of his late father, Earl. Nike's posted it earlier on YouTube:

Controversial move by The Swoosh and Tiger. To me, this feels odd from so many angles. Using his dad...seriously? And doing a COMMERCIAL with a very personal theme comes across to me as hypocritical and coldblooded at a time when Woods' says he wants his private life kept private. Maybe I'll feel differently about this later on but right now it feels like cheap, tasteless way to take advantage of the massive attention he's getting this week because of his personal issues.

The second hot topic is Augusta National's chairman Billy Payne using the Masters podium to publicly rip and scold Woods. This is another one of those head-scratchers for me. I don't know how smart or appropriate it is for anyone from Augusta National to be getting on a high horse and preach about moral behavior when they have a long history of discrimination, and carry the reputation of being an arrogant, elitist group of good ol' boys.

Jay Coffin (Editorial Director, Golf Channel) and reporter John Hawkins are on GC now praising Payne's remarks.

Coffin: "I thought it (Payne's speech) was done perfect."

Hawkins: "This man should be president. This guy's got a 104 mile per hour fastball he just threw...I'm in love with that speech...It was the perfect thing to say."

"Someone's gotta whack him (Woods) upside the head and Payne just basically did that."

Yep, Payne sure did that. I just feel it was over-the-line sanctimonious for an Augusta National representative to say it. And toss in that a white guy with a Southern accent in a Deep South city did the verbally spanking...well, how's that going to play outside the Augusta gates?

It also seems suspiciously self-serving for these Golf Channel commentators to sing nothing but superlatives for Payne's performance since everyone's aware that GC would likely be perpetually banished like Gary McCord if they criticize the green jacketed bosses.

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  • Westwood will shoot 72. Phil will hit one too many idiot shots and shoot 71. Tiger's gonna bang out a 67 and win. He'll flip off Billy Payne in the Butler Cabin.

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