Going into the 2011 Masters, the tournament was proclaimed as the most wide-open in years. After the first two rounds, it's a bit less open than predicted.
Masters Weekend Stage is Set. Here We Go!
The biggest 36 hole comeback at Augusta was in 1956 when Jackie Burke overcame an 8 stroke deficit -- which is exactly where two of this year's favorites, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, find themselves in a 10-way tie for 20th place looking way up at leader Rory McIlroy.
So, which players still have a realistic chance at this year's green jacket?
THE BEST BETS
Rory McIlroy - The 21-year-old leader at halftime has looked more confident than anyone else, and has the scores to back up his strut. He and Geoff Ogilvy are the only two players to shoot in the 60's in both of the opening rounds. One more of those and Rory will likely be sleeping on the lead again come Saturday night. But nobody has led wire-to-wire at Augusta since Ray Floyd in 1976.
Chance of winning: 50%
K.J. Choi - At last year's Masters, the South Korean finished tied for 4th with his playing partner for all four rounds, Tiger Woods. Guess who he's paired up with on Saturday? K.J. is trying to become the first Asian player to win at Augusta, but the hilly course tends to take a weekend toll on older players (just ask Fred Couples these days) and Choi is 41. Not old enough to be counted out, but old enough to concerned about.
Chance of winning: 25%
Tiger Woods - Just like he did last year, TW woke up the echoes before the weekend after dropping a wild ride 66 on Friday. You can bet TV cameras on Saturday will be spotlighting all of his shots. Now, can his rebuilt game stand up to the pressure better than it did last year?
Chance of winning: 20%
Geoff Ogilvy - Ogilvy came in flying under the radar but an opening pair of 69's have him on the leaderboard's big screen in all caps. Those two 69's double his number of Masters rounds in the 60's in his 20 previous rounds. The slim Australian has never been in the hunt at Augusta, but he is now.
Chance of winning: 15%
Lee Westwood - Last year's hard-luck runner-up crept back into contention on Friday with a 67. He looked relaxed on Thursday, and then looked determined on Friday. I expect more the same on Saturday.
Chance of winning: 15%
THE SECOND TIER
Alvaro Quiros - The Mighty Quiros was en fuego on Thursday and cooled off on Friday but he's got that same look in his eyes that Angel Cabrera did when he won two years ago. His mammoth shots are perfect for Augusta. His short game is the big question.
Chance of winning: 10%
Ricky Barnes - Ricky be Ricky on the big stage where he seems to always perform. He was tied for 10th here last year and he's lurking again.
Chances of winning: 8%
Luke Donald and Jim Furyk - Both veterans are only 6 strokes off the lead but the hurdles to jump are the 11 guys ahead of them. You figure they'll need at least a pair of 68's to have a shot.
Chances of winning: 5%
BUT WHAT ABOUT...
What's not to love about Jason Day and Ricky Fowler? Well, one tradition unlike any other is Masters Weekend has chewed up and spit out young guys not named Tiger Woods. McIlory, on the other hand, looks like he's old beyond his years.
Phil Mickelson? He'll need something like back-to-back 65's to have any chance.
Freddy Couples and his fans should just pray that he avoids the weekend fade he had last year.