Augusta, GA — Augusta National Golf Club was warm and sticky on Thursday. It may be the best acceptable weather run for a Masters tournament for a while.
Friday looks bleak enough for tournament officials to move the tee times forward by 30 minutes. Saturday’s forecast calls for up to 2 inches of rain and winds of up to 25 mph. Showers could continue into Sunday, Augusta National’s official forecast says, “before returning to dry conditions with a sliver of sunshine on Sunday afternoon.”
The Masters hasn’t finished on a Monday since 1983, so most of the 88-man field is in new territory. On Thursday’s course, however, the consensus was that those with lower first-round scores were in a much better position than usual.
2013 Masters winner Adam Scott said: “But we don’t know what’s going to happen or how the weather will affect the rest of the week.
Scott certainly hopes so: He hit 68 at 4-under.
The latest Masters riddles from Mike Weir: How to play alone.
Ask any Masters Champion about Augusta National, and they’ll tell you that the course and tournament are always looking for new twists. For 2003 winner Mike Weir, a new challenge came when his play partner Kevin Nah withdrew on Thursday’s turn, leaving Weir to play back his nine alone. I was.
And since Na and Weir were the first players to depart on Thursday morning, it fell to Weir to set the pace, which he later conceded, slowing down.
“I told my caddy that I don’t want to think too much or be too late,” Weir said. “You kind of get into a routine and don’t want to spend too much time or overthink things.”
Thanks to a few frustrating putts, he hit a 37 on the back nine to make Thursday’s score a par 72 and finish tied for 37th. He later said part of his challenge was realizing he lacked a valuable source of intelligence: opponents’ plays.
“You pick up speed on the green,” he said of a typical round with another player. I pay attention to the flight, etc. I don’t really notice it on the tee shot, but on the approach shot to the green and around the green, I look at how the green reacts, etc. When I’m playing with someone.”
Weir, 52, is little used to playing alone in competition. Thirty-one years after he turned pro, he couldn’t remember when he last played as a single.
“The biggest thing is to get the pace of the walk right, not get too caught up in your own game, laugh with your caddy and enjoy it,” he said. That’s the approach I took.Enjoy this back nine.It’s beautiful out here.Have a good time and dial in when you’re ready to hit.”
Bad luck continues for Will Zaratris.
Two years ago Will Zalatoris made his Masters debut and almost won it. At the end of the tournament, he trailed the winner, Hideki Matsuyama, by one stroke. But his quest to actually win a major tournament — he’s been runner-up on three occasions — means he’s at least out of the league next month after an injury forced him out of the Masters before teatime on Thursday. pending the PGA Championship.
A scourge of illness and injury has hit Zaratris hardest lately. In August he withdrew from the BMW Championship after injuring his back in the third round. The injury kept him out of the Tour Championship and possibly even his Cup in the Presidents. Then a stomach bug kicked him out of his match-play event at the World Golf Championships in Texas last month.
“I’ve never done anything like that,” Zaratris, who is number eight on the Official World Golf Rankings, said this week. It’s like doing.”
His best result of the year was 4th place at the Genesis Invitational in February.
Despite winning the Masters three times, he has a low approval rating.
Phil Mickelson approached the first tee to start the opening round at the Masters on Thursday, with Tiger Woods turning from the front nine to the back nine about 40 feet away. It was pouring, but hundreds of fans turned their attention to Mickelson as Woods stepped onto the 10th tee.
Mickelson was met with quiet applause when he was introduced. It wasn’t produced by more than 20 sets of hands, unlike the roaring applause and rapturous cheers Mickelson would have heard two years before his last appearance at the Masters. Not at all. In 2022, Mickelson took a hiatus from competitive golf, including the three-time Masters, before joining the LIV Golf Tour.
On Thursday, there was again a very faint applause after Mickelson hit his first shot into the first fairway. I was given something similar to the silent treatment. As he walked from the tee to the ball, three young men shouted in unison, “Let’s go, Phil.” The gallery was empty, and Mickelson walked down a corridor of fans who stared at him but made little noise.
All around Augusta National this week, LIV golfers are not being shunned. The Augusta National Gallery is disrespectful. But there was also a crowd who, in a quiet way, seemed eager not to support those who had defected to the LIV.
— Bill Pennington