AUGUSTA, Ga. – In simply his fourth Masters look, Jon Rahm already knew it was a one-off. Playing the ultimate spherical final fall with rookie Sebastian Munoz, Rahm advised him to soak within the expertise however in the end disregard no matter information he’d simply spent every week accruing at Augusta National.
“Anything you learn today, this week, forget about it,” Rahm advised him, “because it will never play like this again – period.”
In the primary November Masters, the fairways had been sponges and the second minimize was longer, the greens had been extra receptive and the intently mown areas much less menacing. Able to take useless intention, reasonably than enjoying aggressively to conservative targets, Dustin Johnson shot 20-under 268 and smashing the 72-hole scoring document.
“I think he would have won whether it was in November or April,” Justin Thomas mentioned. “He played far and away better than everybody else.”
But it was additionally abundantly clear that was an Augusta anomaly.
Johnson’s subsequent closest pursuers had been Sungjae Im, who was making his Masters debut, and Cameron Smith, who grew to become the primary participant to document all 4 rounds within the 60s. Their 15-under totals would have been sufficient to win or power a playoff in all however three Masters over the previous twenty years. Finishing joint fifth was Dylan Frittelli, enjoying simply his second Masters. Another shot behind, in a tie for seventh, was C.T. Pan, an Augusta newcomer who hadn’t posted a top-10 in 17 months.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that some first-timers or younger guys played well,” Thomas mentioned, “because a lot of the past experience, it was engrained in my memory. There were just a lot of little things here and there that I had a hard time getting used to that just wasn’t the case last year.”
Thomas completed alone in fourth, constructing on a document at Augusta that has seen him enhance his place every year since debuting in 2016. After ending his ultimate spherical final yr, Thomas mentioned: “I wish the tournament in April started tomorrow, I’ll just say that.”
With a couple of months to replicate, Thomas and others might level out precisely how in a different way the course performed within the fall.
How method pictures stopped in the midst of the primary inexperienced as a substitute of skipping to the again.
How balls wouldn’t catch the slope and funnel all the way in which towards the center or far-right pins on the par-5 second.
How they couldn’t rely on utilizing the backstop after discovering the bunker in need of the fourth inexperienced.
How an method lengthy of the flag on the seventh inexperienced wouldn’t essentially spin all the way in which again to the entrance edge, or how the balls would dangle up on the financial institution in need of the 13th inexperienced, or how the chips behind the 15th inexperienced weren’t as terrifying.
“It wasn’t the same, not even close to being the same,” Rahm mentioned. “You had to be very precise with the shots into the green. It was much easier off the tee because the ball was just plugging in the fairway. Chipping around the greens and putting, it was just slower, a little softer. It still played somewhat like it, because it’s Augusta National and experience is always going to help with certain areas. But very few years when we play in April does it play close to those conditions.”
Said Thomas: “We knew it was going to be like that; we knew it wasn’t going to be lightning fast or really firm like it can get in April. It wasn’t like we showed up on Thursday and it was like, Oh, wow. This isn’t what it was like the last three days. We knew what we were getting into.”
Indications are Augusta National will play this week because it was meant – 2015 champion Jordan Spieth mentioned the “early rumors” had been that it was already fiery two to three weeks in the past. That definitely appeared to be the case Saturday throughout the ultimate spherical of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. With breezy circumstances and cooler temperatures following a weeklong chilly snap, the highest feminine amateurs on the earth, enjoying from the member tees (roughly 6,300 yards), might handle just one spherical within the 60s and simply 5 sub-par scores. Many mentioned the greens had been as agency and as quick as they’d ever seen, wherever.
And that was every week forward of the Masters.
For first-timers like Munoz, there nonetheless was some expertise to be gained from enjoying final November. Learning methods off tees, begin strains, wind instructions. Getting visually comfy.
Just not a lot.
“I’m not sure I’m going to take a whole lot into this year, if the golf course is playing very different,” Spieth mentioned. “I’ll probably throw that one out if it’s going to be a firm Masters.”