10 Nov 2020 | Professional golf |

Scott wary of muddy Masters

by Mark Hayes

Adam Scott tries to learn the nuances of Augusta National's second hole today with no galleries and shade-covered fairway.
Adam Scott tries to learn the nuances of Augusta National's second hole today with no galleries and shade-covered fairway.

Forget Covid-19, oversown fairways and the impact of no galleries, Adam Scott says his biggest concern this unique Masters week is something that could impact you on your favourite local facility at any time – `mudballs’.

The 2013 champion freely admits he’d much prefer to play with the roars of Augusta National’s famous “patrons” echoing through the Georgia pines.

But in terms of playability in this one-off autumnal Masters, it’s the weather forecast that has Scott more concerned.

And with the remnants of Tropical Storm Eta pushing up the nearby Atlantic coastline this week, it’s expected that there’ll be plenty of rain with which to contend.

Heavy falls are expected locally on Wednesday and Thursday, putting extra pressure on a schedule already tightened by reduced November sunlight.

In various meteorological guises according to your source, the subsequent precipitation will range from tropical storms to passing showers for much of the week.

All of which points to – at best – a slightly softer course, even with all the sub-terranean technology at the host club’s disposal.

Like all Queenslanders, Scott has grown up being able to play through rain and showers.

But at his media conference today, the 40-year-old said the challenge of a series of already tough approaches would be magnified if things became muddy.

“That will be the hardest thing for everyone … (if) you get a `mudball’ at the wrong time on a course like this with extreme penalty … it can be very costly,” Scott said.

“I’ve played some Masters when it’s been quite cool and damp, but really the biggest problem for us … around a golf course that requires precision like this one does, especially hitting into the greens here is … mud on the ball.

“It’s very difficult because you lose control of the ball flight and when you have very small targets to hit into and you don’t know where the ball may go, it’s very hard.”

The Australian spoke before he ventured out to the course to check out the variations of a course normally set up for spring, not autumn as forced this year by the global pandemic.

He said the talk of the locker room had been that some of the tighter pitch shots would present a slightly different challenge with the grass composition different to the tournament’s typical April timeslot.

But Scott said the greatest alteration would be to play without fans.

“The missing galleries is going to be the biggest difference, I’ve played two major championships since we came back from the Covid break and it couldn’t be more different playing major championship golf without the spectators … the atmosphere,” he said.

“It still means the same to us all, maybe even more so because we return to Augusta National every year … but the atmosphere they create that makes the experience.”

Scott said he’d been left with no ill-effects of his short period of battling Covid-19 last month, experiencing mild symptoms for approximately 48 hours.

On a day when his fellow former champion Sergio Garcia joined Presidents Cup player Joaquin Niemann as Covid-19 withdrawals this week, Scott said the silver lining of his illness meant he knew he’d be fully fit for the Masters.

“It’s gotta be tough for them to miss out. Hopefully it’s nothing too serious,” said Scott, who said inconsistency had been his biggest problem since he returned to the US after months in Australia in time for the late-season run of major championships.

“I was in good form back in the (northern) spring, but because of all the circumstances it’s really affected my preparation and practice and many things since returning.

“But since testing positive, last week (at Houston) wasn’t too bad – there was a lot of good stuff in there.

“Hopefully the work that I have done and been able to the last couple of months will accumulate and I’ll be able to finish the year with a bang this week.”

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