Most of the professionals playing in The Masters described Fred Couples' performance on Friday afternoon at Augusta National Golf Club as "cool." The antithesis of "cool?" Tiger Woods. Someone get the guy a blanket and an Abrams tank.

After a roller-coaster, even-par 72 on Thursday, Tiger started quickly in his second round, reaching two under with two birdies through three holes. That's when he started to unwind. He dropped his 9-iron after an errant tee-shot on the 16th hole and proceeded to kick it about 15-yards in disgust.


To be quite honest, the man was annoying. And that's coming from a Tiger Woods fan. If it seemed like he was whining the whole round, it's because he was. Even dropping a few "Goddamns" loudly and clearly enough to get picked up by the cameras. Former Masters winner-turned analyst Nick Faldo said Tiger had "lost his game...and his mind."

Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson: the names TV execs want on top of the leader board to help with ratings. But as Tom Watson showed us in the 2009 British Open, people love the old guys.

Here stands 52-year old Fred Couples, tied for The Masters lead through 36-holes with Jason Duffner—a man who was six years old when Couples played in his first Masters in 1983—at five under par. Couples is the oldest player to have any share of the lead this far into the tournament, surpassing Lee Trevino who led at 49 in 1989. And if he were to win, Couples would easily become the oldest winner to earn the green jacket; Jack Nicklaus was 46 when he took home his sixth Masters in 1986.

Luckily, if Couples keeps leading, the attention will increasingly focus on his story, allowing Tiger and the story of Augusta National's policy to exclude women members to fade into the background as well.

Boys Don't Cry (About Not Letting Girls In Their Club)

Widely respected New York Times golf writer Karen Crouse is the latest to keep this story burning; one that was reignited because Virginia M. Rometty was promoted to chief executive at I.B.M, one of the key sponsors of The Masters. Augusta National had previously extended membership to her four male predecessors, though they have yet to offer it to Rometty. This has sparked new life into the debate that seemed to die down after Martha Burk so infamously led a crusade against the club from 2002 to 2004.

Now, I realize this might be unpopular with my liberal brethren, but what seems like a juicy story is not really that exciting at all. Yes, Augusta National Golf Club is a private, mens-only club. Just like the hundred, maybe thousands of other gender-specific private clubs around the country—not the least of which are iconic institutions like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America. I don't foresee president Obama and Mitt Romney littering the campaign trail with comments about the sexist policies of the Boy Scouts. Women are not barred from the club and they are certainly allowed to play the course.

Would allowing them to become members go a long way towards trying to shed that old, white-guy image golf has so successfully branded? Sure. But are they doing anything morally reprehensible or illegal by keeping members mens-only? Not as long as my son can't sell Girl Scout Cookies. (Note: I don't have a son and the Girl Scout cookies I ordered just arrived this week.)

Turtles Are Slow, Steady, and Wear Green

There is an exciting field behind Fred Couples and Jason Duffner. The World's No. 2 and 3 golfers—Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood respectively—are in a group one stroke behind Couples that includes Bubba Watson, Louis Oosthuizen, and Sergio Garcia. Both are looking for their first Masters win. For Westwood it would be his first major, for McIlroy his second, and the chance to become the second-youngest winner of the Masters behind only Tiger Woods—a name he'll start getting compared to more and more should he win this week.


It doesn't stop there. The leaderboard is littered with past-major winners; Phil Mickelson is only three strokes back, despite a first round 72, which included a journey into the forest with about 50 friends. So is Vijay Singh. Paul Lawrie, Matt Kuchar, and Miguel Angel Jimenez are two-strokes behind. Take all the big names, add in a sexy sexism debate, the usual Tiger drama, and a 52-year-old leader, all set in the idyllic weekend Georgia weather, and you have a perfect storm staged for record ratings.

Yet the winner is sure to be the one who is the most consistent. The one who remains calm in the face of everything Augusta throws at him. Just ask Henrik Stenson, who is currently tied with a large group at two under, but who finished Thursday's opening round with an eight—the highest score ever carded on the 18th hole at Augusta. Friday, he finished with a birdie three.

Which is exactly why Fred Couples might just take this thing, and is almost assuredly going to finish within or around the top 10. He has the best career scoring average of all-time at Augusta among players who have competed in at least 100 rounds, beating out even Jack Nicklaus. And despite currently ranking 373rd in the world, Couples has finished his past two Masters tournaments in sixth place and tied for 15th.

As Saturday's round begins, the field has been cut to 63 golfers. Because of ties at the five-over par cut off, this is the most golfers to make a Masters cut since 1992. Which just so happens to be the last year Fred Couples won the ugliest green jacket we'd all love to own.


Derek Evers is the publisher of Impose Magazine and a contributing writer for Golf Digest. He's writing about The Masters for Gothamist because your weekend editors aren't sure of what to make of this "golf."