124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

The Loop

The Masters weather forecast looks pretty bad -- here's what that means

March 27, 2017

Weathermen are always wrong.

That's the prevailing thought hope with the year's first major championship just over a week away. Have you seen the Masters weather forecast? Here it is, but don't look if you're not prepared to be bummed out.


Feeling extra blue on this Monday now? Sorry, we warned you.

We know that rain is a nuisance for players and patrons (as well as those hoping to see Augusta National's vivid colors in HD), but what does it mean for the tournament? Let's start with soft conditions making the 7,435-yard layout play a lot longer. That's not good news for short hitters and people hoping to see Bernhard Langer playing in one of the final groups on Sunday again.

But it's music to the ears of someone like Rory McIlroy. The Northern Irishman's four major titles all came on tracks that were softened up -- Congressional at the 2011 U.S. Open, Kiawah's Ocean Course at the 2012 PGA Championship, Royal Liverpool at the 2014 Open Championship and Valhalla at the 2014 PGA. It wouldn't surprise anyone if McIlroy used his distance advantage to capture the career Grand Slam. Then again, the American transplant has admitted he doesn't like playing in bad conditions, though, so maybe this evens out. Oh yeah, Dustin Johnson, that guy who wins every week now, is also a long hitter.

However, it's not all about distance. A wet Augusta National also makes the greens more receptive for players using long irons for their approach shots, something medium-hitting Mike Weir learned when he won a rain-plagued 2003 Masters. Rain also takes some of the course's subtleties out of play, something that Phil Mickelson lamented during Jordan Spieth's runaway victory on a softer course in 2015.

"Certainly, the firm conditions make angles important, past knowledge important, but there's no fire in the golf course right now," Mickelson said after the second round in 2015.

That could make it easier for a Masters rookie to win, something that hasn't happened since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. How important is course knowledge? Before Zoeller claimed a green jacket the last person to win in his first trip to Augusta National was Gene Sarazen in 1935 -- the second year of the event so that really doesn't count.

So is there a Masters rookie ready to challenge history? Have you heard of Jon Rahm? Coming off close calls to Dustin Johnson in the past two World Golf Championships, the 22-year-old Spaniard is the hottest player on the planet other than DJ. Oh, and he can crush it off the tee. We're liking his chances of winning more and more.

If any course can handle a little rain, though, it's Augusta National. The course is equipped with a state-of-the-art SubAir drainage system, a modern marvel that David Owen wrote about in 2011.

But even if the SubAir system gets the course playable quicker, how will anyone handle a weather-delayed event? The Masters hasn't had a Monday finish since 1983, which was also the last time a complete round (Friday's second round) was wiped out due to bad weather. That year, Seve Ballesteros started the final round birdie-eagle and cruised to a four-shot win over Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite to earn a second green jacket. In 2013, the tournament came close to needing an extra day, but golfers played through a steady rain on Sunday. Adam Scott wound up beating Angel Cabrera on the second sudden-death hole, which probably would have been the last hole of the day due to darkness.

So history is on our side when it comes to a major Masters delay or a Monday finish. Of course, that could also mean we're due for a rough week.

But weathermen are always wrong. . . right?