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In firm conditions, Masters in November a distant memory


AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — No one wanted to see the colourful blooms at Augusta National to appreciate this will likely be a a lot totally different Masters than the final one. It was the colour of the greens.

They had been yellow. On Wednesday.

The pleasure of the primary main of the golf season was blended with no small measure of trepidation concerning the check Augusta National would possibly current this week with out intervention and a little precipitation.

Fred Couples, who performed his first Masters in 1983 and is competing for the thirty sixth time, performed a apply spherical Wednesday with Rory McIlroy.

“Rory said it five times: ‘Have you ever seen the greens like this on Wednesday?’ And five times in a row I said, ‘No,’” Couples mentioned. “He was laughing. So I think if it stays like this, come even Friday, Saturday, Sunday, I mean, honestly, a 70 or 71 will be a heck of a score.”

A rating like that may have meant getting lapped in November, when the Masters needed to take an autumn date after it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dustin Johnson performed conservatively alongside the again 9 as a result of he had a huge lead, and he nonetheless completed with a document rating of 20-under 268 to win by 5 pictures in the lowest-scoring Masters in historical past.

“I’ve seen some young guys this week have a slightly deer-in-the-headlights look because they’ve walked out on a couple of those greens and they’ve seen the color of them and they’ve felt the firmness,” Paul Casey mentioned. “You can see they’re kind of going, ‘Whoa. This is a whole different animal.’”

Still to be decided is what the climate has in retailer for the remainder of the week. The solar has added that scary shine to the placing surfaces beginning with the Augusta National Women’s Amateur on Saturday — the profitable rating was at 1-over par. Scattered storms are in the forecast the remainder of the best way.

For the the 13 gamers who performed the Masters for the primary time in November, it is like beginning over.

“November is a Masters that we’ll probably never see again,” Webb Simpson mentioned. “You know, flying hybrids, 5-woods, 3-woods to the hole and the ball stopping. It’s good to forget about that because that’s not our normal Masters. It’s in a way relearning the nuances.”

Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau dropped balls left of the tenth inexperienced Wednesday morning to play chip pictures to potential gap areas. Mickelson is a three-time Masters champion and a wizard with the wedge. After his second shot, he regarded over at DeChambeau and mentioned, “Boy, it’s tough when it’s dry.”

So a lot concerning the Masters will likely be so totally different, minus expectations of the same old suspects — a little extra noise from at the very least some spectators.

Johnson received the Saudi International for his solely victory in six begins this yr, although he has been in a little bit of a funk the final month. No one is suggesting the inexperienced jacket he received in November ought to include a footnote given the situations. He was that significantly better than everybody else.

But he will not be hitting 5-iron to a left pin on the par-5 second gap for a tap-in eagle like he did in the third spherical in November, taking over pins that had been accessible in such delicate situations. Johnson talked about watching one participant in his group hit 3-wood to a left pin on the fifteenth that landed and stopped close to the opening. That’s out.

Jimmy Walker mentioned nobody might maintain a shot on the fifteenth. He mentioned he and McIlroy every had irons into the fifteenth that had no probability of staying there.

Masters Chairman Fred Ridley is a previous president of the USGA, a corporation suspected of being excellent at payback. Most notable was Johnny Miller taking pictures 63 in the ultimate spherical to win the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont. The subsequent yr, Hale Irwin received at Winged Foot at 7-over par.

That’s the U.S. Open, with a historical past of par being a profitable rating, or not removed from it. The Masters might be brutal when it is brittle and windy and chilly. Zach Johnson received in 2007 in these situations at 1-over 289, although it was the primary time in greater than 50 years that nobody broke par on the Masters.

“The fact that Dustin was 20 under was a combination of his extraordinary play that at the same time, admittedly, the golf course was soft,” Ridley mentioned. “So it was ready to be played very well with a lot of red numbers. But that really had nothing to do with how the golf course is playing right now.

“I think we have the golf course where we want it.”

It all starts Thursday morning with Lee Elder, the first Black golfer to compete in the Masters in 1975, joining Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player for the honorary tee shot. And then the curtain rises on the 85th Masters, which should feel like the Masters of old — even if that’s only two years ago.

Johnson was a runner-up to Tiger Woods when the Masters was last held in April in 2019. So was Xander Schauffele, who thinks this year it might be even “crazier.”

“When I say crazier, I mean firmer and faster,” Schauffele mentioned, including a couple of minutes later, “I believe each man who performs professionally is a little little bit of a masochist, so I’m right here for the torture.”

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More AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports



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