Tuesday At The Masters
Groupings unveiled with only a slight LIV bias. Plus, players opine on a wide range of topics while Woods expresses rollback support. And the weather forecast remains bleak.
Another sensational day at Augusta National saw the Victorian garden party in moisture wicking polos and khaki shorts march on under grey skies. The sun emerged late but probably not enough to dry things out before the anticipated rains. And holy Hootie (RIP) do we have a bleak forecast.
Since there is so much good stuff to read after a day of player press conferences, let’s deal with Tuesday night’s 6 p.m. official forecast for what it is: wrong. Inhuman, really. At least in First World terms.
For those keeping score, that’s up to 70% Friday and 90% Saturday with a topping of “heavy at times” thrown onto Saturday highs that are now down to 52 degrees, or, for the Quad’s media readership, the Interview Room temperature.
Now that we have the meteorological misery out of the way, everything you need to know and then some from Augusta.
The highly anticipated Tuesday groupings announcement appeared somewhat uneventful in the scope of LIV v. PGA Tour.
You can view with pretty pictures at Masters.com here. (Also note the 12-minute spacing).
Standout Groups (Thursday/Friday times)
Scheffler, Homa, Bennett (AM) (1:36/10:30)
Z. Johnson/Day/Sargent(AM) (12:48/9:36)
Potentially Awkward Distance Discrepancies
Z. Johnson/Day/Sargent(AM) (12:48/9:36)
A bold strategy being tested by staring at 8:00 am Thursday and Friday with Weir/Na and Olazabal/Champ.
On closer inspection, it seems the Featured Groups are notably LIV-golfer free:
Tiger On His Preparation, Rollback
Tiger Woods sat down at 11 a.m. to chat with the press and while it wasn’t the liveliest session, he’s only as good as the canvas he has to work with and many of the questions were, well, about as good as the weather forecast.
There were, however, some fun insights slipped in if you were listening carefully.
Regarding his anticipated takes on the new 13th tee, Woods appeared to suggest he believes the 545-yard tee might be a bit excessive for a few years. On distance, his endorsement came (as expected) and he made his case for the proposed “Model Local Rule” helping the very best ball strikers. It’s reasonable to conclude his words were part of a case that swayed Rory McIlroy’s views. And clearly not little brother Justin Thomas!
On the state of his game. “I've always enjoyed the seclusion of practicing and getting ready for events, and then obviously taking what I have done in practice into game time and be able to display that. It's harder now.”
On limited ability to prepare like he used to. “I know the golf course. So I've been able to re-create a lot of the chip shots at home in my backyard or I'm at Medalist hitting balls off the side of lies, trying to simulate shots and rehearsing again and again each and every flag location, each and every shot I would possibly hit.”
More on preparing and visualizing. “I've gone through so many different scenarios in my head. You know I don't sleep very well, so going through it and rummaging through the data bank and how to hit shots from each and every place and rehearsing it; that's the only way that I can compete here. I don't have the physical tournaments under my belt. I haven't played that much, no. But if there's any one golf course that I can come back, like I did last year, it's here, just because I know the golf course.”
On player/caddie partnerships at Augusta National. “I think the teamwork of player and caddie is so important here because there's so many variables that go on, the lies, the wind, the gust, and knowledge of the golf course.
On Augusta National and back-to-back winners. “You couldn't draw up a golf course that has more variable winds and more penalties for a shot that is one yard off. A shot that is one yard can mean 40, 50 feet on a putt. It's just understanding that, having that patience and that knowledge. You look at guys who have won back-to-back, have all been pretty special players.”
On Raymond Floyd mentoring him at Augusta National. “To have Raymond go around this golf course -- that's one of the reasons I learned how to chip with a 4-iron. The grain is different now than it was then. It's a lot thicker now and a lot more sticky than it used to be. But Raymond showed me how to use a 4-iron around this golf course. And to listen to him describe how to use that club and the shots, the 8-iron, how he hits that shot and chips it from right here and he'll put a cut spin on this one and he'll put a draw spin on this one, he'll make this one hold against the hill.”
On the proposed Model Local Rule golf ball. “This should have happened a long time ago. That's what Jack [Nicklaus] was saying, the [Titleist] 384 was going too far. This is back in the '80s. But still, that was my take on it; that the amateurs should be able to have fun and still hit the golf ball far but we can be regulated about how far we hit it.”
More on the proposed Model Local Rule ball. “I understand the marketing is going to be different for how you're going to market your equipment to the public. But…on a competitive level, there's only so much we can do at the amateur level or the Tour level on how much property we can do, and the guys are going to find ways to hit it farther.”
On the impact the change might have on elite players. “If you roll the ball back a little bit, you'll see that the better ball-strikers will have more of an advantage over the guys who miss it a little bit.”
On playing his persimmon recently. “Last week, I was at home playing at Medalist and I had my old Persimmon driver and I was able to still carry the ball 290 yards. Now, when I missed it, no, it did not go very far. But the ability to hit the ball in the middle of the face was rewarded.”
On bringing some old golf balls out this week. “I don't know if Rory shared this, but yesterday I brought a couple balata balls up here with me and threw them over to him and had him hit a couple putts with them, and he said, ‘Oh, my God.’ I said, ‘Yes, exactly.’ This is -- we're not going to roll the ball back that far, but it's kind of neat to be able to see the golf ball do different things.”
Rory On 2022’s Breakthrough, Rotella And More
Rory McIlroy is coming off a second place finish in the 2022 Masters and his sixth top 10 in 14 starts here. It was another breezy and brilliant session with the media Tuesday in Augusta, covering everything from his many recent trips here to what last year has done for his confidence. He also touched on the influence of Dr. Bob Rotella, his driver and his new stance on equipment regulation.
On playing 81 holes at Augusta National the last 2 1/2 weeks. “It's fun to be here. It's fun to play. It's a treat. I came up here last Thursday. It was sort of just on a whim. I texted Shane Lowry and I said, look, we're going to be practicing in Florida, why don't we just come up here for a day? I feel like you go around here, and whether you learn something new or not, it's just a nice way to spend a day.”