Nice first day at The Masters. As always they have made major changes to the facility, new parking, new entrance and a very big, permanent media center. As usual, it all looks beautiful!
I spent about an hour on the range with Webb Simpson. I started working with Webb right before the Phoenix Open and he appears to be in good form. I had sent him a rundown of many holes at Augusta National from my past experiences: How to attack certain pin placements, how certain putts break, how other holes play in windy conditions, how certain hole locations lure you into the wrong spots etc. Most of what we talked about was born out of mistakes I had made in the past. He commented on the range today on my observations and seemed receptive to certain strategies. He has one problem this week in that his caddy, Paul Tesori, is out at the moment with a bad back. His wife has caddied for him 9 holes in the last two days. I don’t doubt for one second that she’s in shape but this is a REALLY hard course to walk with a 50 pound bag on your shoulder! I hope Paul is OK to go by Thursday.
Jay Haas spent time with Bill on the range today and was pleased with what he saw. Bill seemed quite relaxed and played well the few holes I watched in his practice round. Coming off his third place finish in the WGC Match Play Championship his confidence seems to be running pretty high right now.
The real story this week may be the weather and how the officials set the course up relative to the windy forecast on Thursday and Friday. They are predicting winds up to 40 Mph on both days and with the speed and undulations in the greens, the officials will have to find easy pin placements and slow the greens down, in my opinion. If they don’t, it may not resemble championship golf as we’ve come to know it. I’m sure many may think that because these are the best players in the world why not make it as hard as possible? There is a fine line between difficult and ridiculous! If they aren’t careful with hole locations and green speeds you will see many putts go off greens and perhaps into hazards. I’m not sure that’s what they want. It will be really interesting to see the set up on Thursday. I suspect that it will be set up fairly, all things considered.
I’m not sure that Bill Haas has the best draw. He is in the second to last group on Thursday. Heavy rains are expected on Wednesday thru the early morning on Thursday. That means the early tee times will be playing a much softer course and considerably easier scoring conditions, especially if the course dries out in the afternoon. This could be an event that the “luck of the draw” could be a considerable factor in determining the winner. That happens! It’s an outdoor sport! The players with late tee times will have to grind to stay in the tournament. I think you will see some very high scores the first couple rounds.
Looking forward to a great week and will report back after the first round is in the books!