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Golf Digest Logo Survival of the fittest

Masters 2024: After a brutal day at Augusta National, players share what they learned

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J.D. Cuban

AUGUSTA, Ga. — With scores running high and rounds stretching long, Friday at Augusta National was not a day to thrive. The task during the second round was in some ways simpler.

To survive.

"It's not a joy at all," said Byeong Hun An, who comes into the weekend T-8, added. "It's not fun playing in these conditions. It's definitely a battle out there. It's a grind. There's no easy holes out here. I could have made eight, nine bogeys in a row on the back nine, not because I was playing poorly but just because of the conditions."

"I've never experienced Augusta National in these conditions before," added Bryson DeChambeau, the 36-hole co-leader at six under, said.

How do the best players on the planet navigate one of golf's most iconic courses, during one of its most difficult days in recent memory.

That's what I asked them; here's what they said...

Rule 1: Know nothing is ever safe

When the wind blows it affects every shot you hit. Drives curve more; irons fly unpredictably; putts slip down the slopes more easily. Playing well in difficult conditions like the kind players faced today doesn't require perfection, but it doesn require your attention. On every shot, no matter how seemingly simple or straightforward.

"Nothing's ever done, like nothing's safe, ever," Tommy Fleetwood, who shot 71 on Friday, said. "Whether you've got a three-footer or whatever it is, you're just never done until you've actually got the ball in the hole."

Rule 2: Turn to a swing thought you can trust

Difficult conditions get players out of their comfort zone, which is why it's so important in these moments to return to something you can trust. A thought, or a feeling, that you can really key-in will give you a sense of familiarity in an uncomfortable moment.

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Ben Walton

"I feel a tilt of my shoulder on the downswing, which allows me to throw my arms out to the right," DeChambeau says. "It's a big sensation for me, and key to my thought process on every single shot."

Rule 3: Ride what you can, whenever you can

On days when mother nature isn't giving you much, take time to get inventive about what you can use. Specifically, using the slopes whenever you can, and riding the wind into the fairway.

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Maddie Meyer

"I always try to keep it very simple," said Ludvig Aberg, who shot three-under 69. "Hitting my stock shot that I know and letting the wind do the rest. When it's borderline, that's what I do."

Rule 4: Now is the time to accept, not analyze

There are times for taking a good, hard look at your own game. When the wind blows and the conditions are tough, that's not the time. Lower your expectations. Make the goal for the day simpler.

"Keep the ball in front of me," Aberg explains of his goal. "That's really it."

Adds Fleetwood:

"If anything, [the bad weather] actually helps my mindset," Fleetwood says. "I become far more accepting about the shots I hit, and I don't think about my swing or I don't try to be too perfect. I think it helps me in that respect."