Nick Bonfield examines the impact of the weather at the 2017 US Masters
How The Weather Could Influence The US Masters Winner
As I sit here gazing out at the range from the incredible new media centre at Augusta National, rain is pelting down and the course has just been closed for the day.
Why? There is a tornado risk later today and a succession of storms are scheduled to roll in to eastern Georgia overnight.
But what impact might this have on the tournament and will it place added significant on Thursday and Friday’s tee times?
Let’s deal with the first question. Augusta National is a fast-draining golf course, but if the anticipated weather becomes reality, it will be much wetter than it normally is at this time of year.
In my mind, this could slightly diminish the advantage some of the longer hitters in the field.
Of course, length is a benefit when the fairways are wet as big hitters carry the ball further through the air than their shorter-hitting counterparts.
However, Augusta is a second-shot golf course, and wet conditions are more likely to lead to receptive greens – a great help to those with lower ball flights and players playing their approaches with longer irons.
When the greens are running as fast as we’ve come to expect at Augusta National, the more loft, the better. But, if the greens are soft, or softer than usual, those with higher launches might find it slightly more difficult to control spin.
Above: thousands of patrons make their way to the exit
Much is made of the importance of patience and limiting mistakes in the quest for a Major Championship. Given the projected weather conditions, particularly on Thursday, players with those attributes – along with professionals proficient in the wind – will have an advantage.
You’ll often hear people say that you can’t win a Major on a Thursday, but you can certainly lose one. The first round will be a battle, and I fully expect a number of high-profile names to struggle with the conditions and play themselves out of the tournament.
As it stands, it looks as if the morning starters will see the worst of the conditions, with gusts of up to 40mph expected. The likes of Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson – who tee off in the afternoon wave – will have it slightly easier, but I’m expecting it to be a struggle all day. Resilience, the ability to shape shots and control of trajectory will be vital.
As the week progresses, the bad weather should give way to blue skies – particularly over the weekend – and the wind should decrease in strength. The question, however, is who will be able to take meaningful advantage.
So who are the real battlers who will relish the test the conditions provide?
For me, Jason Day and Justin Rose – men with Major-winning pedigree – come straight to mind. The Australian is one of the game’s real fighters and Rose’s patience is second to none.
Sergio Garcia is another one. He’s good in the wind and he’s a fantastic manipulator of the golf ball.
Related: Sergio Garcia swing sequence
I’ll also be keeping a close eye on Rickie Fowler. I watched him work balls both ways on the range earlier this week and his low ball flight should suit the windy first- and second-round conditions.
It’s also important to emphasise the role of preparation here. With practice rounds abandoned on Monday afternoon and play cancelled at 1.25pm on Wednesday, those who came to Augusta last week to prepare may see the benefit.
McIlroy did, and he’s played more than 100 holes in practice. Does that give him an edge? Maybe, maybe not. It certainly doesn’t hamper his chances. I certainly fancy him to be in the mix come Sunday afternoon.
Attend The 2018 Masters with Your Golf Travel – visit yourgolftravel.com/us-masters Experiences including flights, hotels & tickets are available. Nick Bonfield travelled to the 2017 Masters courtesy of Your Golf Travel.