In an interview with Golf Magazine, Justin Rose said he's been hearing reports of "shredded" and dead-looking trees at Augusta National, which will host the Masters in two weeks.
"Peter Hanson went a couple days ago," said Rose, who was scheduled for a wheels-up time of 8:15 a.m. Thursday for an early look at the course. "He said you won’t recognize it. He said the ice storm has shredded all the leaves from all the trees. He said from the eleventh hole you could see all the way to the clubhouse. Apparently all the trees look dead. It’s a bit of a shame."
The course suffered from devastating ice storm in February, which so damaged its iconic Eisenhower Tree, a huge loblolly pine that once towered over the 17th hole, officials had no choice but to chop it down.
Rose, who has held the first-round lead at the Masters three times -- and has the commemorative crystal to prove it -- has battled tendonitis in his right shoulder this season but pronounced himself healthy in an interview at his Lake Nona home earlier this week. He contended at the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook on March 16, but faded with a final-round 74 to tie for eighth. He will fly back to his home in the Bahamas after Friday's practice session at Augusta and will be skipping next week's Shell Houston Open.
"It just helps you get excited for the rest of your preparation," he said of his early scouting visit to Augusta. "I’ll get two weeks off after that, and then I’ll be really energized, with it being fresh in my memory. It is a good course for me, but it’s a good course for a lot of people. It’s a good course for Rory, Phil, Bubba, Adam, Dustin, Tiger. So I don’t have an advantage over any of those guys, but I don’t have a disadvantage, like a lot of guys do."
UPDATE (3/28): After playing a round at Augusta National with Matthew Fitzpatrick on Thursday, Justin Rose said that rumors that the course would be unrecognizable were greatly exaggerated: "I didn't see any of that myself," he said. "It was playing up to tournament speed. The only thing I noticed was that the azaleas hadn't popped yet, but they have ways of controlling those things around here, and I'm sure they will do that during tournament week."
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