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Weather could shake up the Masters

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Hi, I’m Jim, your friendly weatherman.

It’s 1:06 p.m. here at the first round of the Masters. The sun has disappeared, clouds are gathering, the wind has picked up dramatically and is whirling like some exotic Middle Eastern dancer, the forecast is for rain later in the afternoon.

If the weather goes bad at the British Open, everybody just shrugs it off. That’s what you expect at seaside courses in Great Britain.

If the conditions go cuckoo at the U.S. Open, it can always be blamed on the U.S. Golf Association. There have been so many weather-related controversies at the U.S. Open – such as half the players effectively being removed from contention in 2009 because they were in the wrong half of the draw – nobody is surprised anymore.

But the Masters? If a blade of grass is out of place, somebody arrives lickety-split to fix it. Augusta National Golf Club is the world’s most perfectly manicured golf course.

So, when the weather is uncooperative at the Masters, everybody appears perplexed. Wind and rain at Augusta National – it just isn’t fair.

Jerry Kelly went out in the second group. He bogeyed the 18th hole, shot even-par 72, and was not ready to blame anything on the weather.

Kelly is a man’s man.

“It was very manageable,” Kelly said of the course. “It was set up to score today. There’s no doubt about it. This is the easiest you’ll see Augusta.”

So, Jerry, why aren’t the scores any lower? Only a handful of players on the course are under par.

“You got it, Sunshine?” he said, meaning, “Don’t you understand, dummy?”

After a pause, Kelly continued: “There’s nothing easy about easy at Augusta. Even today, when they set up the course thinking that weather would come in.”

If weather blows the field away, it will be interesting to see the reaction of late players like Tiger Woods (1:42) and David Duval (1:53).

I love ever-changing weather. That’s why I am drawn to the British Open. All players at the British start from the first tee, generally beginning at 6:30 a.m. and going to 4 p.m. or later. Conditions sometimes rotate between ideal and miserable.

If I had my way, the names of all players would be thrown into a hat and pairings and starting times would be determined by random draw. All players, known or unknown, would be targets of the weather.

Rain, baby, rain.

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