Thursday, April 10

Dealing with mud will be key Friday
By Andy North



AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Friday is going to be a very long day.

Nick Faldo
Nick Faldo gets in some practice Thursday, but will likely spend most of the day resting up for Friday.

They're going to try to get in both the first and second rounds (I doubt they'll be able to), and let me tell you, Augusta National is a tough course to play 36 holes on in one day. It's a tough course to play even 18 when it's really wet.

It's unbelievable how many holes are up and down hills, and the soggy ground is just going to make walking these 7,290 yards even tougher. Obviously, the fittest players will have an advantage, as will those who are the toughest mentally (again, all signs point to Tiger Woods).

Because it's going to be such a long day there are going to be times where players will kind of "check out" mentally. If you lose your mental edge at Augusta, you could be in for some big trouble. The ones who are able to regain their mental edge quickly without making any big mistakes are the ones who will be successful.

Adding to the level of difficulty will be the fact that players won't be able to lift, clean and place their balls. Anytime you get conditions this wet, the ball doesn't roll at all, and will sometimes get covered in mud when it lands in the soggy fairways. When you get mud on your ball, you can't really control where it goes, it becomes kind of like a knuckleball. And control is everything at Augusta.

You can hit a ball that starts out heading for the pin, but then the mud takes over and it could go 40 yards offline. You just can't predict what the effect is going to be. That will be the biggest concern for the players Friday.

I think you'll see guys play conservatively because of this, particularly on the par-5 13th and 15th, where there's water around the green. Players will probably be laying up instead of going for the green in two just to make sure they don't hit one that goes squirrelly and into the water.

To get ready for Friday, I think players will mostly take it easy and spend time with their families. Sure, they'll hit some balls on the range and chip and putt a little bit, but then they'll likely spend the day relaxing. The nice thing about The Masters is it's one of those weeks where a lot of guys are in houses instead of hotels, so they'll be more comfortable and have a lot of family and friends around. It's a lot easier to kill time here than in a normal week on tour.

I would suspect that the revenue will take a big jump at the movie theaters.

Two-time U.S. Open champion Andy North is a golf analyst for ESPN, and will be covering The Masters all week.







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AUDIO / VIDEO  
Video
 2003 Masters
Andy North and Scott Van Pelt look at the problems the players will be facing on Friday.
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 Rain Delay
Players react to the weather conditions at Augusta.
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