Thursday, April 10
Storm leaves Masters fans all wet
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Wet, tired and muddy, Steve Jennings and Paul Jaycox tromped toward the exit and back to the car.
They drove 14 hours from upstate New York to make it to The Masters by Thursday morning. They saw no golf.
After four days of drenching rain in Augusta, the place the two
club pros came to see looked a lot like the place they left.
Up there, they call it Woodstock.
''I'm happy to be here, but it's kind of a bad day for us,''
Jennings said, after the Masters was called because of rain.
They weren't alone.
With a light, steady rain falling, thousands of patrons waded
through Augusta National, the famed golf course-turned-mud bog.
They were caked in filth, holding umbrellas, walking through
waterlogged grass and trying to salvage something from the
Several went souvenir shopping. One fan said it took him 30
minutes to wind his way through the lines simply to get into the
main gift shop near the entrance to the course.
Others stood out in the rain, determined to see golf balls
struck, even if it was just for practice.
They queued up four and five deep behind the ropes at the
putting green, watching Jay Haas, Gary Player and others
monotonously roll balls down the slickened surface.
The scene was the same at the driving range, and at the
short-game practice area, where Toshi Izawa flipped ball after ball
out of the sand, all of them coming within inches of the hole he
was aiming at.
''Wouldn't that be great if he was doing that on the course?''
one fan said.
After the first opening-round rainout in 64 years, play was
scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m. ET Friday. Masters officials said
they hoped to get through 36 holes. With as much as an inch of rain
expected Thursday and into Friday morning, though, some players
thought they were only dreaming.
''I'm not even going to worry about getting up at 5:30
tomorrow,'' Chris DiMarco said. ''They're just not going to be able
This is the second straight year rain has wreaked havoc with
this pristine course, a place so worried about its appearance that
it has been known to ice down the azaleas so they'll bloom during
When downpours came last year, groundskeepers spread thousands
of pounds of pine straw in an attempt to sop up the moisture. But
that plan failed when the straw was wetted down by more rain,
turning the course into a smelly, muddy mess.
This year, the pine straw is gone. And, of course, the course
hasn't been trampled as badly because there has been no action.
''It's a shame, because people come from all over the world to
watch this,'' 1976 champion Raymond Floyd said. ''I know the
decision not to play was tough, but what else can you do?''
Wendell Pittenger, who owns golf courses in Minnesota, brought
his fiancee here for the first time.
''We walked down to Amen Corner, came here to the driving range
and now we're leaving,'' Pittenger said. ''Maybe tomorrow.''
When they return, they will see a course made vastly more
difficult. During practice rounds, some players were already
complaining that rain had waterlogged the fairways so badly that
the balls weren't rolling. It gives a big advantage to those who
can hit the ball high and long.
Also, The Masters insists on not allowing players to lift and
clean balls that get muddy in the fairway. It can make for some
very interesting shots.
''If it's just a little water and mud, you can work with that,''
Scott Hoch said. ''But if it's big globs, there's really not much
you can do but hope.''
Being well prepared is key. Mike Weir came to Augusta without
appropriate gear for the rain and temperatures in the 50s. He
stopped at a local sporting goods store to buy some.
He wasn't the only one in the market for new duds.
''There's a lot of muck and slop out there,'' said one mud-caked
fan, who didn't want to give his name. ''Of course, if you say that
here, you'll be banned from the course.''