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Tough Masters set-up not prompted by Johnson’s record win


Augusta National did not create agency and quick circumstances for this week’s Masters as a result of top-ranked Dustin Johnson went 20-under par to shatter the course record final 12 months on a rain-softened structure.

But membership chairman Fred Ridley is not complaining concerning the troublesome circumstances set to greet golfers when the 12 months’s first main championship tees off Thursday morning.

“We have the golf course where we want it. It’s playing firm and fast,” Ridley mentioned. “Our goal is to maintain it for the week.”

A world-class area of 88 golfers made remaining preparations Wednesday on the eve of the eighty fifth Masters, the lightning-quick course a really totally different check from final November’s Covid-delayed occasion dominated by Johnson.

“That really had nothing to do with the way the golf course is playing right now,” Ridley mentioned.

“The course is in the best condition that I’ve ever seen it in the 20 years I’ve been a member.”

Johnson will attempt to grow to be the primary repeat winner since Tiger Woods in 2002 whereas four-time main champion Rory McIlroy seeks a win to finish a profession Grand Slam.

Fred Couples, the 1992 Masters winner, practiced with Twelfth-ranked McIlroy on Wednesday and each marveled on the velocity of the greens on the par-72 structure.

“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.

“If it stays like this, I mean, honestly a 70 or 71 will be a heck of a score.”

Players labored on putts, chips and driving as properly earlier than the chase for the inexperienced jacket begins.

“The faster greens have a little more pace to them,” 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir of Canada mentioned. “You really have to think. Those landing areas shrink down when the greens get firmer like this and the precision shotmaking is heightened.”

Such pictures will elicit roars from a restricted variety of spectators allowed below Covid-19 security protocols after final 12 months’s Masters was performed with out followers as a result of virus.

“Bad shots are punished a little more and the good shots are rewarded because the areas on the green are so small,” Australian Marc Leishman mentioned.

“The more you know the course, the bigger advantage it is. When it’s like this, there are places that you have to put a big red X in your yardage book and make sure you don’t hit it there.”

Italy’s Francesco Molinari, the 54-hole chief in 2019 earlier than shedding to Woods, is in uncharted territory.

“Don’t think I’ve ever seen it this fast and firm already,” Molinari mentioned. “We’ll see. I’m as ready as I can be.”

Lee Elder, the primary Black golfer to play within the Masters, this 12 months will be a part of Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player as honorary starters, hitting the ceremonial tee pictures to start the event on Thursday morning.

– Even crazier? –

There’s an opportunity of thundershowers on Friday that might soften course circumstances, one doubtless motive the course has been so agency so quickly.

“If the rain doesn’t come, then it will be really fun,” sixth-ranked Xander Schauffele mentioned. “It has the potential to be even crazier.

“I feel each man who performs skilled (golf) is a bit of little bit of a masochist, so I’m right here for the torture,” Schauffele said, “and my caddie and I’ll do our greatest if it will get actually robust.”

Absent for the challenge is five-time Masters winner Woods, who suffered serious leg injuries in a one-car crash in February. California authorities said Wednesday the accident was caused by excessive speed.

“I used to be deeply saddened once I realized of Tiger’s tragic automotive accident,” Ridley said. “Tiger Woods is among the biggest rivals within the historical past of all sports activities.

“He’s greatly missed this week and we continue to hope and pray for his recovery.”

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