The weather has certainly become a major factor at Augusta National Golf Club this week, with persistent rains early in the week and more storms overnight on Thursday. There's additional rain forecasted throughout Friday morning, with mud balls already prevalent throughout Thursday's round. On Tuesday, Tiger Woods said after his practice round that every drive in the fairway resulted in a mud ball:
Today I played nine holes with Freddie and Sean, and seven drives and had seven mud balls. So hopefully it will dry out, but I think the forecast is for more rain.
The mud ball problem carried over from the practice rounds to the first round yesterday, with Nick Watney telling Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post that lift, clean, and place could be in play for Friday:
Nick Watney says they're getting mud on almost every tee shot. More rain on way. Lift, clean and place? "It's borderline right now."— Barry Svrluga (@barrysvrluga) April 5, 2012
It would be an extreme measure for Augusta National to put "lift, clean and place" into effect, but it's something that Chairman Billy Payne did not rule out at his press conference on Wednesday:
"We surely would not want to have to do that," Payne said. "That would be a decision very difficult to make. However, we are also bright enough to know that weather conditions can have an impact on that, and possibly cause us to change our minds on that issue."
Woods, along with Jack Nicklaus and thousands of golfers pejoratively refer to it as "lift, clean, cheat." It's definitely frowned upon, but if mud balls are a major problem, Augusta National may be forced to institute it.
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