|Phil Mickelson (left) and Tiger Woods. (ROBERT GALBRAITH/Reuters file photo)
AUGUSTA, GA. - Is Augusta National defenceless?
Phil Mickelson thinks so and says it could affect who ends up wearing the green jacket Sunday night. Early week rain has softened the course, and with more in the forecast for Thursday and Friday, Mickelson says players will be licking their chops.
“There’s no fear of the course,” he said. “You’ve got to attack it this week. The greens are soft. I don’t want to say they are slow, but it’s not the same Augusta.”
Although Mickelson can make birdies with the best of them, he would rather see the course firm and fast. Playing in his 20th Masters, the three-time champ says the experience he has gained and the lengthy preparation he has put in will be wasted if the course stays as soft as it was on Tuesday.
“There’s a very good chance that a young, inexperienced, fearless player that attacks the golf course can win if you don’t need to show it the proper respect,” he said.
If this is the case, golf fans should look at some players a little green around the collar to perhaps have a chance to add a green jacket to their ensemble.
Young stars such as Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson, Nick Watney and Rickie Fowler will move a rung or two closer to favourites Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Mickelson if these conditions hold up.
A wet course clearly has advantages when it comes to scoring but it also has its disadvantages which is what Tiger Woods was talking about after the practice round on Tuesday.
“I played nine holes with Freddie (Couples) and Sean (O’Hair), and seven drives had seven mud balls,” Woods said.
As for the greens, Woods said they are still quick but are “pretty soft and pretty receptive.”
As long as the rain comes in showers and not downpours, Augusta’s SubAir system will have a fighting chance of keeping them dry.
The SubAir system is buried under the greens and vacuums water out while forcing air in and controlling the temperature of the root structure.
If the SubAir is able to work its magic, the players could face interesting playing conditions with no roll on the fairways but quick greens.
“The potential of getting mud balls further back, and with the SubAir, these greens can dry out very quickly. As I said they are receptive but they are quick,” Woods said. “It’s an interesting combo because we don’t face that very often.”
The weather is always a wildcard at golf tournaments and this year it has added another storyline to a Masters chock full of them.
All we know is that the two best players of their generation have slightly different views on how the course will play this week.
“Unless they change it, it’s going to be a birdie-fest,” said Mickelson. Woods seems to think Augusta will have a trick up her sleeve.
He said, “You can play a hundred practice rounds but from Wednesday to Thursday it’s just a totally different golf course.”