Masters champions call out Friday’s ‘borderline’ Augusta National conditions

jon rahm at the 2024 masters on friday

Defending Masters champ Jon Rahm shot 76 on Friday to make the cut.

Darren Riehl/GOLF

AUGUSTA, Ga. — On Friday at the Masters, the goal was to just hang on. The second consecutive day of strong winds made conditions challenging and putting surfaces slick.

The scoring average was 75.08 and even the par-5s weren’t particularly easy — not one eagle was made on the back nine. After a double bogey on 14, defending Masters champ Jon Rahm was six over through 14 holes. In danger of missing the cut — which moved back to six over — Rahm went birdie-birdie on 15 and 16. He bogeyed 17 and two-putted for par on 18, signing for a 76 and five-over total after 36 holes.

Rahm was relieved to be done and through the weekend. Then he was asked how challenging the round was.

“Very,” Rahm said. “A couple times questioning myself why we were out there, especially when I got to 18 and saw the whole front of the green just full of sand [that the wind was blowing from the bunker]. It’s rolling a little bit different. I understand they want us to finish. I can imagine they were very close to calling it a few times, especially when we were on 11 green and we were getting those massive gusts every couple of minutes or so. It was extremely difficult.”

Rahm said he made too many mistakes after putting himself in good positions. But he was happy to see a couple of birdie putts go in late, including on 16, when he made a 50-footer.

“It’s a very bad day not to be comfortable with the swing, that’s for sure,” Rahm said. “Yeah, just fighting it all day, never comfortable. I didn’t give myself a lot of chances, and it was a last ditch effort at the end to try and make the cut. Luckily I was successful in doing so.”

Putting on Friday wasn’t easy either. On the 16th hole, Gary Woodland saw his ball at rest on the top-right tier of the green blow back toward the bottom tier like it was funneling to the Sunday pin location. Some players backed off putts.

“You just put the ball down, and it’s very close to moving,” Rahm said. “Not only that, how long did it take us to play? Over six hours to play just because they had to blow the greens in between groups, and then when you get to a group, people stepping back and back in. It’s just, again, borderline.

“It was very, very close,” he continued. “It’s about as hard a golf course as I’ve seen in a very long time.”

Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters winner, said Augusta National is “by far” the most difficult championship course to manage when it’s windy.

“Especially being firm,” he said. “So on a good day with a normal day, 15 mph wind, with the way it’s playing at this firmness, it’s a fantastic test. It’s tough. You then get on the wrong side, and you’re thinking, Wow, this is difficult. Then you add this wind to it, and it becomes borderline almost unplayable.”

Xander Schauffele, who played a group behind Rahm, described conditions as the toughest of his Masters career but insisted the course played “really fair.”

As for Rahm? He starts Saturday five over, well back of the leaders at six under. But weekend weather conditions should be perfect, so there will be an opportunity for some, or many, to go low.

“Got a lot of work to do [Saturday] if I want to have a chance on Sunday,” Rahm said.

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