Tuesday at Augusta is the big interview day. One by one, the stars of golf and Masters legends file into the Media Center Interview Room (no cell phones allowed). You’ve probably seen Player A and Green Jacket moderator sitting beside one another at the podium. There are chips in our badges which the moderator uses to identify the folks asking the questions. High-tech stuff. Koepka, Phil, DJ, Spieth, Rahm, JT, etc., etc. They all came in and gave their thoughts on their game and the course. Hole 5, extended 30 yards to 495 yards this year, has been a conversation piece. Expect to see a new front left hole location there. With these soft fairways and southern winds forecast, expect the fifth to play long and difficult. I won’t be surprised if it has the highest stroke average of any par-4 at week’s end.
Hard rain fell this morning but the skies cleared in the afternoon and the practice grounds were active. There’s a chance for rain / storms Thursday and Friday. It’s been 1983 since the Masters has needed a Monday finish. Hopefully that streak stays intact.
Here’s a insightful piece from a smart analyst, Mark Broadie, the inventor of the Strokes Gained statistics used by the PGA Tour, who explains the difficulty of hitting approach shots close to the hole at Augusta National. Longer putts equals more 3-putts.
Tiger Woods elaborated on this point during his Tuesday press conference, reflecting on his first decade at the Masters when the course played five hundred yards shorter and he often needed only a sand wedge and never more than an 8-iron, for his approach shot to most of the par-4s and could reach the par-5s with a mid-to-short iron second shot.
Tiger’s chances hinge on his performance with two clubs – the ones pro golfers use to start and finish most holes – the driver and the putter. His performance with both has been mixed this season but the rest of his game looks strong. Can he find some magic in his bag at age 43?
Patrick Reed is back in Augusta, this time as the defending champion of the Masters. He’s a enigmatic, if not divisive figure. Hardly the first golfer who marched alone to the beat in his earbuds, still relationship issues – teammates, parents, siblings, seem to follow him around.
For most, golf is a recreational release, a social endeavor enjoyed with friends and family. While certain characteristics might translate to the pro game, more frequently at this level it’s a solitary pursuit, one that demands supreme confidence and untold hours of time spent alone. Man, club, ball, hole. Don’t let the science of DeChambeau fool ya. It can be downright primal: see ball, hit ball, chase ball. Repeat. Reed is here this week, serving a bone-in Cowboy Ribeye to the Champions and trying to repeat but does anybody care? Words for Forbes SportsMoney.
This next part works best if read aloud in a thick Southern accent.
We conceive that the ideal here is that our greens should hold a shot well-struck with backspin but should not hold an improperly played ball. Our greens are of such generous proportions that it is not difficult to hit some part of them but the combination of slopes plus speed introduces serious problems for the player who has failed to place his approach shots reasonably close to the cup.Bobby Jones, 1949