Four-time major champion Phil Mickleson has admitted to feeling frustrated by the manner in which recent heavy rainfall has eased the challenge facing players at Augusta National this week.
Like a student who has spent an entire semester digesting an exhaustive volume of notes, only to see the exam format changed from long-form to multiple choice at the last possible minute, the left-hander is resigned to the fact that knowledge of the venue will count for little by the time he tees off on Thursday afternoon.
“I don’t know if that’s going to happen this week. It seems that some of the planning I have made may go by the wayside.
“As soft as the golf course is, you can fire at a lot of the pins. The greens are soft. I don’t want to say they are slow, but it’s just not the same Augusta. It’s wet around the greens, and there’s no fear of the course. You’ve got to attack it this week. Unless something changes… it’s going to be a birdie‑fest. “
Shorn of its challenge and subtlety, Mickelson expects to see Augusta National reward a younger player with a breakthrough victory this week.
“When the subtleties don’t come out, the experience of playing here in the past is not as important, because you don’t have to fear the greens and you don’t have to know where the ball will end up and you don’t have to fear certain shots because you can get up‑and‑down from the edges. Those shots are not as hard.
“Therefore, I think there’s a very good chance that a young player, inexperienced, fearless player that attacks this golf course can win if you don’t need to show it the proper respect.”
Sounds like the smart money’s on late-Nineties Phil Mickelson.