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Masters field facing supreme test at firm and fast Augusta


Augusta National has served a warning to the world’s biggest golfers with firm and fast situations like some have by no means seen forward of Thursday’s begin of the eighty fifth Masters.

Five months after Dustin Johnson shattered the course document with a 20-under par 268 in rain-softened conditons, the Masters is again in its typical April setting and serving up lightning-fast greens with firm fairways to roll balls into hazard.

“With firm greens, this golf course needs to be respected, three-time Masters winner Phil Mickelson said. “And I believe it has been a very long time because it has needed to be revered.”

Reigning US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, whose power-driving game could benefit from long rolls on many holes, says he will focus on his irons into notoriously undulating Augusta greens.

“I’ve by no means seen it this fast, this fast, this early, however I actually love the problem,” DeChambeau said.

“We had a gap location on 17… for those who simply received it previous the opening, it will roll off the entrance of the inexperienced. Literally it strikes a dimple and it is gone.”

Spain’s Sergio Garcia, the 2017 Masters winner, makes his 22nd start at Augusta National and he’s seen nothing like this.

“The greens are in all probability the quickest and firmest I’ve seen them on a Monday or Tuesday ceaselessly,” he said. “If we get fortunate and the climate stays good, it will be a difficult Masters.

“The way it’s playing right now, there are some holes, some pin positions… some of them are almost impossible to get to.”

Storylines abound, with Johnson making an attempt to hitch Tiger Woods, Nick Faldo and Jack Nicklaus as the one back-to-back Masters winners.

“With it firm and fast, it’s just a really hard golf course,” Johnson stated. “Any hole at any time can jump out and get you.”

Second-ranked Justin Thomas, who can overtake Johnson for world primary with a victory, comes off a win in final month’s Players Championship.

The 2017 PGA Championship winner has improved yearly he has performed. After ending fourth in final yr’s Covid-19 delayed occasion, there’s not a lot room left with out a inexperienced jacket.

“I know I can play this place well,” Thomas stated. “I feel like it’s a place that I’m going to win at some point, at least I hope, and I feel like I can do it multiple times.”

Four-time main winner Rory McIlroy will attempt to full a profession Grand Slam with a Masters victory.

“Going to be a huge premium on accuracy, landing your golf ball on your numbers and being precise with your iron play,” McIlroy stated. “The ball is not stopping so you’re inevitably going to miss a few greens and scrambling is going to be key, too.”

Four-time main winner Brooks Koepka is taking part in after proper knee surgical procedure on March 12. He’s in ache and could have bother bending all the way down to retrieve balls from cups.

“I don’t have that much motion in my knee,” he stated. “Getting down, it’s going to look funny, I know that. But what are you going to do?”

A decreased variety of spectators are allowed this week, the primary at any main since 2019, and they’ll return roars to the weekend drama.

“Patrons play such a massive role, the echos, the roars down in the valley,” 2015 champion Jordan Spieth stated. “Especially come the weekend, it won’t take many people for it to feel close enough to normal to be a fantastic event.”

Tenth-ranked Patrick Cantlay expects situations to carry out the roars.

“I expect it to get really firm and fast and that’s when this golf course shines,” Cantlay stated. “Everyone loves seeing the chips and putts that seem to trickle out forever and take forever to get to the hole.”

– One for the aged? –

England’s Lee Westwood, a runner-up at Bay Hill and the Players, will attempt to develop into the oldest Masters champion at 47. He sees pin positions making the course play otherwise all 4 days.

“It’s a very strategic golf course, probably one of the most strategic, because a slight miss can really get you into a lot of trouble,” Westwood stated. “You’ll see people who have a lot of experience around here coming to the top of the leaderboard.”

Westwood has 19 top-10 main finishes with out a win in 84 begins, probably the most of any energetic participant, with countrymen Paul Casey and Ian Poulter subsequent on 66.

“Ball striking is going to be a premium. Course management is going to be a premium. It’s absolutely perfect,” Casey stated. “This is the Masters I remember. It’s great.”

Kevin Kisner, a 2018 British Open runner-up, is aware of method photographs might be pivotal.

“Chipping it into the greens and knowing how the ball is going to react, that’s going to be a key,” he stated.

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