Wind blows away hopes of low scores at Masters

Wind blows away hopes of low scores at Masters


Tiger Woods faced a mini-sandstorm at the 18th green when the wind whipped up sand

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Augusta (United States) (AFP) – Heavy winds at Augusta National on Friday left the world's finest golfers struggling to make par on a day of high scoring at the Masters.

Tiger Woods faced a mini-sandstorm at the 18th green when the wind whipped up sand from the greenside bunker while Gary Woodland was about to putt before his ball blew away, almost off the green.

The top round of the day was a three-under 69 from Sweden's Ludvig Aberg with only one the trio of co-leaders, Max Homa, getting below par with his one-under 71.

With the tall pine trees swaying heavily in places, the sight of players stepping back from shots as strong gusts of wind suddenly hit them was another sign of how tricky it was on the already difficult course.

"I don't think it gets any tougher than this, to be honest," said 58-year-old Jose Maria Olazabal, Masters champion in 1994 and 1999.

"I mean, you really don't know where the wind is coming from, what the wind is doing. Some of the times you are guessing how the ball is going to react up in the air.

"Around the greens it's very difficult to control the distance, the pace on the greens. From one to 10, I would give it an 11." England's Tommy Fleetwood, who shot one of the better rounds with his 71, said there was not a moment's respite.

"It was just a scrap all day. I mean, the course is hard enough without like the conditions that they've had," he said.

"Nothing's ever done, like nothing's safe ever, like whether you've got a three-footer or whatever, you're just never done until you've actually got the ball in the hole. So it's a pretty stressful place to play when it's like this."

South African Christo Lamprecht, playing his first Masters, saw his ball move six times on the green according to his partner and compatriot Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 champion.

"It's unfortunate, for a guy like that, first time around here, he got thrown in the deep end," he said.

Ireland's Shane Lowry is well used to windy conditions but said that combined with Augusta's notoriously tricky greens was a double-whammy.

"It's just hard. It's hard to pick a wind and it's hard to get it right if we were playing around a normal golf course, but you're playing around Augusta National, where you have to be so precise as well," Lowry said.

"You're trying to pitch the ball; you don't have much to pitch the ball in. You can be made to look like an idiot out there today by not doing too much wrong."

But Phil Mickelson, a three-time winner at Augusta, said he felt it may have been windier in 2007 when Zach Johnson triumphed.

"There's been a couple of really tough wind days. If you fought hard and kind of stayed in it, this weekend should be nice and give you some opportunities to make a move," he said.