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MASTERS --- NOTEBOOK: Skids for ‘The Kid’; UGA's Watson, Ga. Tech's Kuchar struggle

Sergio Garcia reacts after missing a birdie putt during the second round of the Masters on Friday.

Sergio Garcia reacts after missing a birdie putt during the second round of the Masters on Friday.

AUGUSTA — With an early tee time, Sergio Garcia got to see a bit of everything.

The morning was cloudy, and by 10 a.m. rain began to fall. But it doesn’t last long as it gave way to bright sun And the whole time the wind was blowing.

A co-leader entering Friday, Garcia smashed and splashed his way to a 4-over 76, dropping him to minus-2 for the tournament. He bogeyed Nos. 3 and 4 on the front and the 11th and 13th on the back.

“(The course) was much more difficult today, very gusty winds,” Garcia said. “It was not only the strength (of the wind), because if it’s consistent you kind of figure it out, but unfortunately today it was very, very gusty.”

Yet at 2-under, Garcia kept himself in striking distance, four shots back with two rounds remaining and he was happy with the way he hit felt on the course.

“I felt like I hit some nice shots,” Garcia said. “I just couldn’t really give myself a lot of birdie chances, even though I was hitting some good shots I just couldn’t figure out the wind exactly.”

KUCHAR STRUGGLES, BUT STILL IN HUNT: When the wind picked up, things went wrong for Matt Kuchar.

The Georgia Tech graduate, who began the day 3-under par, played first nine holes even par, but he struggled with three bogeys on the back nine and finished 3-over to sit at 1-under for the tournament.

“There was enough wind to be tricky,” Kuchar said. “I want to say on the back nine it picked up and started getting to be fun out there.”

His final bogey came on No. 16 after he found the same bunker he did Thursday.

“It’s not an easy hole for me,” Kuchar said.

A Top 3 finisher in last year’s tournament, Kuchar kept himself close to the leaders despite a rough final nine holes.

“You can only do what you can with the score,” said Kuchar, playing in his seventh Masters. “There’s no sense in being silly; just play the shot that gives you the best chance to make a reasonable score out here. I think your game plan doesn’t change, it’s just a matter of making putts or not.”

BUBBA’S MASTER DEFENSE DERAILED BY FAILING PUTTER: Defending Masters champion Bubba Watson gets his own tee time today.

At 4-over par, the former UGA star just made the cut and will lead the field into the weekend this morning all alone at 9:25 a.m.

He knows what he needs to work on the next two days to finish strong.

“The thing is just putting,” he said. “I had six three-putts (in two days).”

Add in the two from the fringe and Watson considers it eight three-putts. No matter the number, putting cost Watson a chance at a strong second round. He put up seven birdies, but he countered them with six bogeys.

“Obviously, I am playing well,” he said. “I just got to make the putts. I got to somehow make myself hit it harder on the putts, the longer putts.”

For the second day, Watson noted the his struggles with the speed of the greens not matching his expectations.

“I’m trying to respect the golf course and think it’s going to be the Masters the we know and love and obviously I don’t know and love it right now because I three-putted every hole it seemed like.”

COSTAS SLAMS MASTERS: Bob Costas has slammed CBS Sports' television coverage of the Masters golf tournament, saying the network has never acknowledged the "history of racism and sexism" by the Augusta National Golf Club, the private club that runs the historic tournament.

Augusta National, which was established in 1933, did not admit its first black member until 1990, and it did not invite a woman to join until 2012, despite organized protests from the National Council of Women's Organizations and pickets outside the grounds of the event.

In 2003 and 2004, it required CBS to broadcast the Masters commercial-free to stave off the threat of boycotts directed at the tournament's sponsors.

Costas made the remarks on Dan Patrick's radio show on Friday morning. At the end of the interview, which focused on the new movie "42," Patrick asked Costas to take part in a lighthearted game in which listeners imitated the hushed tones and reverent verbiage of longtime Masters announcer Jim Nance.

Costas declined to do a Nance impression, and pointed out that as a lifelong employee of NBC, he would never be in the position to cover the Masters. Then he dropped the hammer.

"What no CBS announcer has ever alluded to, even in passing, even during a rain delay, even when there was time to do so, is Augusta's history of racism and sexism," Costas said. "Even when people were protesting just outside the grounds. Forget about taking a side - never acknowledging it.

"So not only would I never work the Masters because I'm not at CBS, but I'd have to say something, and then I would be ejected."

Masters officials are known to be extraordinarily sensitive about coverage of their tournament. As Costas pointed out, legendary golf announcer Jack Whitaker was banned from broadcasting the tournament for a number of years after referring to the carefully-controlled gallery of fans as "a mob" in 1966.

In 1994, announcer Gary McCord ran afoul of the prickly Augusta National organizers by remarking that one green was cut so closely it could have been "bikini-waxed." He was not invited back.

Added Costas, "Not that Augusta isn't a lovely place, and not that [Augusta National chairman] Billy Payne, who ran the '96 Olympics in Atlanta, isn't my friend, and not that I haven't played there with him, which I did the one time I visited  It was the most gracious, wonderful thing you could ever imagine.

"And yet they do have a history that ought to be reckoned with, that they've only recently comes to terms with, if you call this coming to terms with it."

Afterwards, Patrick was taken aback.

"I think, he's setting me up with a joke in the beginning," Patrick said. "... I thought, here's comes the punchline. But a punch in the stomach is what it is."

Costas said the problem with CBS's coverage has not been its overall tone of hushed respect, but its failure to recognize that the darker history of Augusta National is an "elephant in the room."

"I'm not talking about forcing this issue down everyone's throats while Tiger Woods is lining up a birdie putt," he said. "What you're looking for here is not a full discussion, because you couldn't do it justice, but an acknowledgement.

"I think somebody should have had the guts to do it at some point along the way. Broadcaster, executive - somebody should have said to someone at Augusta, 'Look, this is an issue  and it's an elephant in the room. And we're going to address it  so that our heads are not in the collective sand trap."\

When Patrick pointed out that CBS was no doubt wary of damaging its long-term relationship with the prestigious tournament, Costas agreed.

"It's a business thing," Costas said. "And if that's the case, just talk about guns. No one can get in trouble that way."


Information from Reuters News Service