By Ashley Mayo
AUGUSTA, GA. -- Welcome to Augusta National, where three honorary starters (Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus) kicked off the 78th Masters on Thursday. The sun was shining, the breeze was light and patrons represented a healthy mix of preppy gents and jeans-wearing rebels. A complete Masters experience involves eavesdropping on spectator chatter. Below, some of the odd exchanges we overheard in the gallery.
Patron, as the three honorary starters walked to the first tee: "You think they get nervous?" Guy standing next to him: "No chance in hell."
Guy, as Arnold Palmer prepared to hit the first ceremonial tee shot: "Would you be happy to swing like that at 84?" Friend: "I'd be happy to be standing up at 84."
Teenager, as Gary Player teed up his ball: "He just did 250 push-ups, like a G."
Patron, just after Jack Nicklaus outdrove the other two honorary starters: "He should finish his round and compete in this thing. He'd win!"
Guy, after Rickie Fowler's birdie attempt stops just short of the cup: "Safe won't get the job done, Rickie. Step it up."
Patron standing by the third green, looking down over the fourth green: "You're right, that's Freddie in the middle of the green, that son of a b*tch."
Older fellow who was sitting on a hill under the sixth tee: "I'm already thinking about exactly how I'm gonna stand up. It'll be a highly-calculated movement, I've gotta protect mah back."
After Rickie Fowler flops his wedge shot to within four feet of the hole on the par-3 sixth: "It's not fair -- their balls sit all pretty on top of this perfect grass. That's why they hit shots like that. Our balls sit on shit like crabgrass."
Guy, to buddy: "There ain't gonna be Tiger crowds this year." Buddy: "Thank God."
Patron, when Luke Donald's ball rolled over the first green and settled in a valley: "Vicious." His buddy: "Awesome."
Guy, when Dustin Johnson's headcover fell in the middle of the second fairway: "Headcover! Headcover!" He then paused and whispered, "Even the pros mess up."
When Jason Day knocked it onto the par-5 second hole in two shots: "J Day! J Day, ALL DAY!"
Patron who'd just watched Dustin Johnson tee off: "The way he cocks his wrists at the top, man. Daaaaaannnnnggggg."
Guy, to his buddy: "What ever happened to Rory Sabbatini?" His buddy: "He fell into that war with Tiger and disappeared." Guy: "Let the lesson be learned: don't mess with that man."
Patron, after Keegan Bradley double-bogeyed the par-4 first hole: "He looks like he's about to cry. It's...the first...hole."
Guy, to friend: "27 bucks he makes this putt." Friend: "Stop being annoying."
Patron, after Sergio Garcia missed a short birdie putt on the par-5 15th: "Oh, Serg-ee-OOHHHH. Damn that CLAWWW."
**Editor's note: I picked up (and threw away) a used tissue that was carelessly discarded on the grounds of Augusta National. Litter. At Augusta. Inconceivable.*