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2014 Masters: Favorites Struggle at Augusta National

Phil Mickelson Masters

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Take a look at the first page of the leaderboard and you will see the names of Jonas Blixt, Thomas Bjorn, Jimmy Walker and John Senden – not exactly the murderer’s row of golfers there. With 14 players under par so far on the week, Augusta National has brought some of the world’s best players to their knees.

While the Masters always bring excitement and drama on Saturday and Sunday, the big names and favorites will be missed. Already without Tiger Woods, fan favorite Phil Mickelson missed the cut for the first time since 1998. It’s the first time since 1994 that Mickelson and Woods will not be playing on the weekend. Mickelson’s second round was disrupted by one hole, the Par-3 12th, where he recorded a triple bogey.

The trendy picks of Dustin Johnson, Keegan Bradley, Sergio Garcia and Harris English all struggled in the second round, and they all missed the cut, ending their dreams of a green jacket. Former major winners such as Zach Johnson, Jason Dufner, Y.E. Yang and Graeme McDowell struggled mightily as well.

Rory McIlroy, probably the prohibitive favorite entering the week, was fortunate to make the cut as he finished at four-over. The same can be said for Jason Day.

The conditions on Friday were far more difficult than they were on Thursday. The wind picked up and it dried out the greens and fairways. The breezy, warm weather gave Augusta National a bit more bite. Some of the best golfers in world were unable to adapt and cope with the conditions, and now they’re going home empty-handed.

But while some of the heavy favorites will be watching this weekend, there are some potential juicy storylines that could play out, and the first involves Adam Scott. With his strong back nine, could he be the first player since Woods to go back-to-back at Augusta? What about Bubba Watson? Can he slip on the green jacket twice in three years? Does Fred Couples just have a little bit more magic in him to contend on Sunday?

But here’s a name to keep an eye on — Jordan Spieth. The 20-year-old is going to be a star. After shooting a 70 in the second round, he sits only four strokes back of the leader Watson. He is certainly making his first Masters appearance a memorable one.

While we all watch the final 36 holes unfold on Saturday and Sunday, we will miss the big names and the star power, but rest assured, there will be plenty of signature moments that make the Masters special.

Tyler Ruby is a New York Mets writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter at Hello_Iam_Tyler and add him to your network on Google.