‘Diabolical’ winds attack Masters Thursday. More is coming

Tiger Woods hits a shot into the par-3 12th during the first round of the Masters on Thursday at Augusta National.

Tiger Woods hits a shot into the swirling winds of the par-3 12th during the first round of the Masters on Thursday at Augusta National.

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AUGUSTA, Ga. — How windy was Thursday at the Masters? Jason Day’s pants told the story. As Malbon’s first ambassador on the PGA Tour, Day’s trendy slacks are a common conversation topic. The loose-legged pair he wore for the opening round at Augusta National often looked like a tarp flapping on a clothesline. (Think the opposite of the trousers worn by Will Zalatoris.)

Take the par-4 11th hole, for example, the hardest at Augusta National. Day addressed his ball on the tee before a mighty gust of wind forced him to back off. He scowled, waited about 30 seconds then started again. Up ahead, Tyrrell Hatton was playing the tricky par-3 12th. He seemed to like his tee shot — only until a gust stopped it in its tracks, forcing it to land on the bank and dribble into the water. Hatton spat toward the hole and looked up to the trees, perplexed.

The first round of the Masters was delayed two-and-a-half hours due to rain on Thursday morning. The rain eventually left, but the wind didn’t. It hovered round 15-20 mph all afternoon, although it was the gusts up to 35 mph that wreaked havoc on the field, especially those who played later in the day when the wind picked up.

“The wind was all over the place,” said Tiger Woods, who was one under through 13 holes when play was called for the day. “It was one of the most tricky days that I’ve ever been a part of. It was hard to get a beat not only on what direction it was going, but the intensity, and it kept switching all over the place, and then you had to — the timing was affecting putts on the greens. It was a very difficult day.”

Make no mistake, there were “gettable” rounds out there, as Viktor Hovland put it. But to take advantage of the soft conditions left by the rain — which got less soft as the wind dried up the course — you had to respect the unpredictable wind gusts. And get lucky.

“This wind out here just makes it diabolical and you’ve got to strategically play this golf course and put it in places where you can get up and down or you can two-putt from and just get out of there,” said Bryson DeChambeau, who shot 65 to grab the early lead. “It’s a lot of painting an image and trying to execute that shot out there, compared to just hitting the same stock shot every time.”

And it didn’t get any easier on the greens.

“It’s really hard to make putts when it’s blowing 20 and gusting,” said Wyndham Clark, who shot 73 after playing the first nine in three under. “You’re trying to time the putt with the gusts and then you have all this break and then you’re playing wind — it’s hard to make putts.”

Like DeChambeau, Scottie Scheffler was one of the players who battled the wind and won. He shot 66 and is in solo second. A pivotal moment came on 12, when Scheffler and caddie Ted Scott decided on what they thought was the perfect club and hit the perfect shot. Scheffler’s ball landed on the back of the green, rolled off and into the bunker. Then he chipped in for birdie.

Tiger Woods watches a shot during the first round of the Masters on Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club.
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“It’s just kind of one those deals where you really are guessing sometimes,” Scheffler said. “And I hit the shot exactly how I wanted to. The wind stopped, and it airmailed the green, but I can kind of hand my club to Teddy and just be like, ‘Well, we did what we tried to do.’ You can’t get every wind right. It’s not possible.”

As the day wound down, the final groups tried to fit in as many holes as possible before they ran out of daylight. The marquee group was Woods, Day and Max Homa, who tried to navigate Amen Corner around 7:30 p.m. local time.

The 12th is one of the most challenging holes on the course, and its wide, shallow green is already difficult enough to hit on calm days.

On the 12th tee, Day again backed off his ball and consulted with his caddie. He eventually missed the green left. Homa missed short — his ball barely clinging to the bank to stay dry — and Woods missed long.

The horn blew minutes later at 7:51 p.m., and the first round resumes at 7:45 a.m. on Friday. As for the forecast? More wind. Rain won’t be an issue, and it will be sunny with a high of 72, but the winds will be steady from 15 to 25 mph with higher wind gusts possible.

“It’s a little bit of a patience game, especially Thursday and Friday this week with the wind and the weather this morning,” said Will Zalatoris, who bogeyed 17 and 18 to shoot 70. “And then Saturday and Sunday is obviously going to be where you can try to make up some ground.”

Josh Berhow

Golf.com Editor

As GOLF.com’s managing editor, Berhow handles the day-to-day and long-term planning of one of the sport’s most-read news and service websites. He spends most of his days writing, editing, planning and wondering if he’ll ever break 80. Before joining GOLF.com in 2015, he worked at newspapers in Minnesota and Iowa. A graduate of Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minn., he resides in the Twin Cities with his wife and two kids. You can reach him at joshua_berhow@golf.com.

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