Mark Zecchino’s article from TSN.ca today. Click here for the original link:
The rule of thumb for most golf analysts is that Augusta National is already a long course and when it gets cold and wet, it favours the big hitters even more so. Considering the wet weather already this week at Augusta, this should come into play.
At most golf courses, this theory is right. At Augusta National however, the opposite has happened and shorter hitters have often walked away with the green jacket.
In 2003 (Mike Weir), 2007 (Zach Johnson) and 2008 (Trevor Immelman), the tournament was either plagued by rain or received heavy rain leading into the opening round.
All three of those players are short off the tee for modern standards.
Although having distance at Augusta National certainly helps, it’s more about extreme angles into greens and devilish putting conditions that the players only see once a year. This is what makes the Masters unique.
Players like Weir will always have mid to long irons for their approach shots, regardless of the level of moisture in the ground. What they discover is that the angles and the reception of approach shots into greens are much easier when the course softens.
Would you rather hit a 5-iron onto a wet 10-foot pool table or hard pool table? Which one has a better chance at staying?
When the course gets wet it also opens the door for newcomers to do well. Fuzzy Zoeller is the only player to win the Masters in the modern era in his first attempt (1979), which was a year plagued by rain.
When conditions get cooler (there could be potential for a 10 C difference between morning and afternoon tee times in the first two rounds), it has often forced the game’s longest players to lay back and rely on their wedge game; completely removing their huge advantage on par fives.
Current forecasts are calling for a cool, wet and windy Thursday, followed by another cool and windy Friday.
After yesterday’s rain and the aforementioned conditions, look for some shorter hitters to potentially get out of the gates early on Thursday and move up the leaderboard.
The big question will be if they have enough firepower to hang around for the weekend if the conditions improve on Saturday and Sunday as forecasted.