Winds, hole locations put teeth back in Augusta

Phil Mickelson takes shelter under an umbrella on No. 2 at Augusta National during the second round of the 2013 Masters, with weather becoming a factor early Friday.

Phil Mickelson takes shelter under an umbrella on No. 2 at Augusta National during the second round of the 2013 Masters, with weather becoming a factor early Friday.

— It wasn't the strength, but the fickle direction, of Friday's wind at Augusta National that made scoring so difficult. Throw in tougher hole locations and you have sufficient explanation for higher scores in the Masters' second round. “This golf course is so penal if you miss your spots,” Martin Laird said after Friday’s 73. “You have a 5-yard circle to land the ball, and when the wind is blowing . . . it makes it a lot harder to get close to pins or even get it on the surface.”

Laird expected the wind to be blowing left-to-right when he arrived at the 13th fairway. It was in his face instead. “It’s always a bit disconcerting when the wind has been blowing one direction the first 12 holes, ... and then you stand in the middle of the 13th fairway and it seems to have moved.”

Players said both of the second nine’s par-5s – Nos. 13 and 15 – are playing into the wind.

“I don’t think it was real strong,” John Merrick said after shooting 77. “Maybe 15-20 mph at the most, but you don’t need a lot of wind out here to make it tough. There’s so many variables in each shot with no wind. ...

"It makes it tough, it makes it really tough. You’re just off-kilter a little bit all day.”

The hole locations, especially on the first nine, were more difficult than the ones used for Thursday’s first round, amateur Michael Weaver said. Friday’s hole locations might have been a response to the first round’s low scores, or to overnight rains and the softer conditions that could result. Augusta National received less precipitation overnight than expected, and also received brief rain during Friday morning's play.

“The wind and the pin placements are definitely trickier than yesterday,” said Thorbjorn Olesen after his 70.

Sergio Garcia, the co-leader after Thursday’s 66, made the turn in 2 over. Dustin Johnson followed his Thursday 67 by shooting even par on the front nine. Fred Couples, who shot 68 Thursday, made the turn in 37, while Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, who also shot a first-round 68, shot 38 on the first nine holes Friday.

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