GAINESVILLE, GA Don’t be fooled by the sunshine.
While there will be plenty of sunshine, Mother Nature will be particularly cruel this weekend at the 86th Masters, with those playing inside the gallery ropes bearing the worst of the brunt.
Rounds three and four are expected to include a mix of high-octane winds whipping through the Georgia Pines, freezing temps necessitating extra layers and possibly ski caps, and a chance of a rain or two.
This isn’t ideal.
Natural elements aren’t the only thing the athletes will have to contend with. The course will continue to firm up, and the greens will continue to harden, turning Augusta National into a beast. As a result, players will be thinking pars rather than birdies, and they will need to know where to miss to offer themselves the best opportunity of not missing a shot.
Because the golf ball won’t fly as far, players will be trying to hit their numbers using clubs they wouldn’t normally use. To find the right trajectory and distance, expect a lot of three-quarter swings, punch shots, and a variety of fades and pulls.
The small quadrants that must be struck in order to get a makeable birdie putt rather than a 40-foot chip will be more difficult to locate. Tee shots that are well-hit will land in the pine straw or the pearly white bunkers. If there are gusts, the five-footers with two feet of break will get harsher.
Overall, the cold temperatures and strong wind will combine with an already difficult test to reduce attention, fade focus, and generate a lot of back-and-forth between the player and the caddie. To put it another way, it’ll be two days of numerous headaches.
“At the very least, it’s not raining,” Webb Simpson added. “However, it will be difficult.”
It will begin on Moving Day, when all of the players will move to stay warm. On Saturday, the high isn’t predicted to exceed the 60s, and with persistent winds in the 15 mph range and gusts up to 30 mph, anticipate commentators to use the phrases “wind chill factor” frequently. “Stay warm, friends,” CBS sportscaster Jim Nantz may advise.
The low for Sunday is anticipated to be 36 degrees, with a frost delay likely. Warmer temperatures (in the 70s) and plenty of sun will arrive shortly before midday, a few hours before the leaders tee off and begin dealing with the sweltering intensity of Sunday Masters pressure.
This year’s players who made the cut got a taste of what’s to come. High winds harmed them in the second round on Friday. The overall average was higher than 74.
“I got a 74.” Sergio Garcia, the 2017 Masters champion, stated, “I feel like I shot 86.” “I’m not sure.” I felt like I’d just finished a ten-round fight with Canelo (Alvarez). As a result, it was difficult. Other than a year, it’s difficult for me to get things going here.”
Rory McIlroy, a four-time major champion who is one green jacket short of completing the career Grand Slam, said the wind – and the cold temperatures – play psychological tricks with the players.
“It’s difficult to settle on a figure and say, ‘OK, it’s 170.'” Because the wind is so up and down, it’s really just playing 200 or whatever it is and committing to it,” McIlroy said. “So it’s just a matter of getting the ball out of the air as much as possible.” However, as the greens become firmer, it becomes more difficult to stop it on the green.
“It’s a difficult task.” It’s sort of the name of the game out there today to be okay with hitting to 30 feet, taking two putts, and making pars.”
That appears to be the game plan for the next two days. There will be significantly fewer roars vibrating through the woods if this is the case, which is a welcome feature at the Masters. Players will think twice about going for the green in two on the back-nine par-5s, with danger lurking in front and behind the putting surface at 13 in the form of Rae’s Creek and deep bunkers, and ponds guarding both the front and back of the putting surface at 15, with ponds guarding both the front and back of the putting surface.
But there is reason to be optimistic. Late in the second round, the hardest winds died down, allowing the remaining players on the course to have a better chance. The approaching front’s blaze, as well as all of its icy, windy elements, could be extinguished. However, the players are not anticipating it, but they, along with the customers, are hoping for it. After all, a warm Masters weekend that results in birdies and eagles and generates noise is preferable than one where the sound is muffled by ear muffs.