When dusk creeps in over a tournament, golfers are faced with the difficult decision of when to pull the plug on their rounds.
One more hole? Three more swings? Two more putts? Every player’s comfort level differs, contingent upon the remaining light, their partners’ preferences, the stakes. Tournament officials have a say, too.
When Rickie Fowler arrived on Augusta National’s iconic par-3 12th hole Thursday evening in the opening round of the 2020 Masters, dusk was very much settling in. The green coats were on the verge of calling play but had not yet. So Fowler, who at that point was three under on his round, stepped on to the tee, 9-iron in hand, and swung away. The resulting shot was one that Masters fans have seen time and again on this vexing little hole: short, right, wet.
Fowler took a drop and flew his next shot into the bunker behind the green. His sand shot came out heavy and before he knew it he was holing out for a card-wrecking 6.
Fowler would have plenty of time to agonize over the triple, because it was the last hole he played on Thursday — and he regretted playing it at all.
“I made a mistake,” Fowler said on Friday, after he’d finally completed his first round, signing for a two-under 70. “I wish I would have called a rules official over on the tee. I wasn’t sure how close we were to getting called off for darkness.”
Fowler added that in the gloaming he struggles with his eyesight, particularly his depth perception. “I don’t see very well far away,” he said.
He added, “I know it’s just a 9-iron, but it still can be a little tight there.”
This isn’t the first time Fowler has referenced his spotty vision. In 2014, after the second round of the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, Fowler described his eyes as “very sensitive.”
“I think some of the setup things that I struggle with sometimes, my shoulders get shut and my head gets behind the ball,” he said. “If any of those are just a little off and my head is not in the proper position, then my eyes aren’t able to see the line properly.”
Fowler posted another 70 in the second round on Friday afternoon and is now at four under for the tournament, five strokes off the clubhouse lead shared by four players.
Fowler has a strong track record in recent Masters, finishing T9 a year ago and runner-up in 2018.
When asked how he’ll prepare for the weekend, he said, “I’ll probably go hit a few balls, but outside of that, I’m looking forward to putting my feet up and getting rested and ready.”
No doubt a bit of shut eye will serve him well.