AUGUSTA, GEORGIA – Think of all those gorgeous spring days that have painted the history of The Masters – azaleas in bloom, blue skies, warm temperatures, quick greens and just enough breeze to keep the sweat away.
Don’t expect that the next few days at Augusta National.
The weather forecast suggests that at least the first two days of this Masters will be played in, shall we say, challenging conditions.
And Wednesday’s warm and fuzzy Par-3 Contest?
According to the various weather services, including one on site, Wednesday looks dangerously wet and wild with a 100 percent chance of afternoon thunderstorms, 1-2 inches of rain and possible tornadoes.
It gets only marginally better on Thursday when the rain is forecast to be gone but temperatures will struggle to reach 60 degrees with westerly winds of 25 to 35 mph and gusting more than 40 mph at times.
By Friday, the temperatures will remain cool and the wind will remain, though it will blow just 20 to 30 mph.
At a course where the landing areas on greens are so precise, the margin for error just got smaller and the penalty for misses more costly.
“The weather is going to come in and that’s going to magnify the misses for a lot of players, which means that you need to miss it in the correct spots,” Phil Mickelson said.
“Even though you might miss it big, if you’re in the right spot, you can take advantage of your short game and salvage a lot of pars, and I hope to rely on that knowledge and skill to keep myself in it heading into the weekend where players less experienced with the golf course will possibly miss it in the wrong spots and shoot themselves out.”
As much as the velocity, it’s the direction the wind blows that has potentially dire consequences. Playing the back nine Tuesday, Jordan Spieth said he spent extra time studying a compass in his yardage book to prepare for the wind.
It is expected to blow right to left on the par-3 12th and into players’ faces on the par-5 13th. It will make Nos. 15 and 16 play longer.
“But the biggest change, it just puts more of a premium on speed putting. I mean, big time,” Spieth said.
“You don’t want to have 5-footers from above the hole when the wind is blowing. They are already as challenging as anywhere here, and they become a less than 50/50 chance from 5 feet with the wind blowing. Because of the speed of the greens and the amount of slope there is, the wind affects the ball that much more.
“There’s so little friction on the greens that the wind can move putts from 5 feet and it significantly does. More than half a cup sometimes. So it’s a big premium on speed putting and leaving the ball before the hole.”