Monday At The 2023 Masters
A busy opening day kicked off the 2023 tournament. Spieth offered 13th hole wisdom while Greg Norman made an outlandish prediction refuted by Cam Smith. Plus, more player comments, Tweets and Reads.
The sun never made an appearance but legions of players and patrons were more than happy to get Masters ready under rain-free skies.
For players, a workmanlike vibe was evident to dial it in with two days to go before the first major of 2023. Many turned up early to play or practice given some light rain forecast later in the day (it did not materialize until after dark).
For patrons there were bucket list scenes to take in, photos to snap, fun stuff to buy, and plenty of pimento cheese sandwiches, Crow’s Nest beer and GP ice cream sandwiches to savor.
A few players made news with press conference remarks and patrons standing in long lines no doubt will have the Lords looking at adding new options. In case you haven’t heard, they don’t like lines here.
Although in today’s Only-At-the-Masters filing, note how this young woman offers an assessment on how long a food purchase will take. She also answers any questions while changing the sign to show how long the wait is based on where the line extends to.
I followed the nine-hole practice round of Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Fred Couples and Tom Kim. Teeing off at the 10th, the group spent 10-12 minutes on each green in what might be Woods’ only back nine practice prior to Thursday’s round.
A few observations:
Only McIlroy got home in two at the 13th and that was on his second tee shot. He used an iron.
Woods has no problem playing bump-and-run pitches through the surrounds while McIlroy and Tom Kim go with more loft, often lobbing even simple pitches onto the putting surface.
Woods was walking well, very relaxed and spent an inordinate amount of time hitting pitches. He was especially diligent about practicing from right of the 11th green and behind the 15th green.
The walk back to the new 13th tee from 12 green takes almost two minutes.
The foursome tried to “skip it” in unison at the 16. A future barbershop quartet, they are not. I rest my case:
Elsewhere, the forecast for later in the week dominated many Big Oak course conversations. I won’t bore you with the nitty gritty details, but the four days of tournament play currently have these rain forecast percentages: 40%, 70%, 70% and 60%, with Saturday highs in the mid-50s. Thursday’s rain may also bring afternoon thunderstorms. I could also mention how no Masters has finished on Monday since 1983, but why jinx it?
For now, we’ll hope the Augusta bubble does its thing and enjoy the better insights from Monday.
Oh, for those who missed it, yesterday’s Sunday edition was heavy on my favorite merchandise options.
Spieth: 13th Will Be More Exciting
Jordan Spieth has five Top 3’s in his first nine Augusta National appearances but returns this week coming off his first Masters missed cut.
He touched on a range of topics but gave the most intelligent assessment of the lengthened 13th hole to date. While the hole is 35 yards longer and players expect to lay up more often, Spieth suggested this herd has it wrong.
“I disagree that it's less exciting,” he said. “I think you've heard mixed reviews. Some people say more, some people say less. If you are stuck in between, you and get more mayhem because you're going to get more water balls than guys hitting 7-iron to the middle of the green. How is that not more exciting?
He continued, “It's not very exciting if someone hits 7-, 8-iron into the middle of the green and 2-putts. You want to see someone hit it from further away or a harder shot.”
Spieth expects to lay up more and is prepared for all of the wedge shots in. He even is likely to set a cutoff number for deciding whether to go for the green. That’s different than his prior approach to the hole.
“It is a change because if you hit a drive, before, you were looking at a 6-iron, and that's a lot different than between 4 and 3 into that green.”s
And instead of better or worse, he’s going with different.
“I don't know if it's a better or worse hole; it's a different hole, and I think you have to be determined if it's more or less exciting. If it's warmer, it's more exciting; but when it's this cool, it may just be a lot of lay-ups. But we'll see.”
Norman: LIV Golfers Plan To Hang Around For 18th Celebration
The Telegraph’s James Corrigan kicked off Masters Monday with some lively Greg Norman quotes about a potential LIV Golfer winning. Besides saying he’ll pay for the celebration and noting he received no invite to attend as a former major winner, Norman made this bold suggestion:
“They’ve said that if one of them wins then the other 17 will hang around and be there to congratulate him around the 18th green,” he said. “Could you imagine what a scene that would be, all these players hugging the winner. You only see things like that in the Ryder Cup, although it’s happening in our events more and more”
As you’ll soon find out from the far more credible Cam Smith, not all 18 were in on this grand scheme. It’s also highly unlikely that cutmissers will be staying, but we’ll just set the logistics aside and focus on the potential credibility hit any kind of tacky celebration would have for all involved. Then again, LIV and it’s financial backers are hardly synonymous with any of the characteristics that make the Masters so revered.