Break out your umbrellas! Heavy rain in Augusta on Monday and Wednesday will create a long, soggy course for Thursday’s opening round of the Masters, and strong winds (over 20 mph!) forecast for Thursday and Friday will present even more problems. Who do these conditions favor, and who do they hurt?
Sean Zak, associate editor, GOLF.com: Much has been made of Rory McIlroy destroying major courses that get pounded with rain, but the wind will be a bigger story than the wetness these first two days. I think the conditions will favor a great ball-striker with a calm demeanor who has been here before. Someone like Gary Woodland.
Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: The course will dry fast in the wind. A day for shotmakers of different lengths. Zach Johnson. King Louie. Spieth.
Josh Sens, GOLF Magazine contributor: It’s tempting to say a soggy course favors the big hitters, but that’s belied by Zach Johnson’s win on a rain-soaked course in 2007. I look for length to be much less of a factor than an ability to take the long view. Patience. Persistence. The conditions forecast should favor fiercely competitive grinders (Spieth? Furyk?) as well as guys comfortable with inclement weather (Rory, anyone?).
Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: The wind is going to negate whatever advantage the bombers might have enjoyed from a soft golf course. The fact that it won’t be the prevailing wind (especially on Friday) is also a factor. I’d sign up for a Thursday 72 right now. And I’ll take someone who can be patient, knows how to play in the wind and is excellent on the greens. In other words, it’ll be a good day for one Jordan Spieth.
Sean Steinemann, social media editor, GOLF.com: I think the weather forecast really benefits the player with limited expectations. You have the game’s elite players coming into the season’s first major with the weight of being the favorites, knowing if they don’t play well, they will be ridiculed. And the tough conditions only make it harder for them to do so. But the guy who shows up to the first tee on Thursday not expecting to play lights out and embraces the challenge; that’s the guy to look out for over the first two days. I’d go with amateur Curtis Luck. He’s got nothing to lose and seems to be having a great time this week at Augusta, as he is playing in his final event as an amateur this week.
Marika Washchyshyn, multimedia producer, GOLF.com: A soft Augusta National behooves a lot of players in this field, but only one has finished T2, 1 and T2 here in his last three starts. Jordan Spieth can both attack soft conditions and pierce the wind with his precision iron shots. No one is better at putting at Augusta National than him, and with slightly slower greens, his touch is even more clutch. If the weather holds, by the time Spieth tees off, the course will have dried out just enough for him to take control over the rest of the field. Bubba Watson, on the other hand, might be in trouble. He’s won twice here but in fairer conditions, and his swing has been a little all over the place of late. Before play was called for the day, Watson brought up the rear at the Par 3 Contest, and was eight over par. He’s also got a late tee time Thursday, which won’t help matters as the wind picks up.