The 2021 Masters is back in its proper place on the calendar, with the warm Georgia sun and blooming azaleas framing Augusta National in springtime.
Last year’s rescheduled fall event altered the course, especially when it came to soft fairways and wet Masters weather during the tournament. But now that the Masters is back to an April tee-off, course conditions are expected to be firm and fast.
As of Sunday, early morning rains will clear aound 8 a.m. ET and temperatures will rise to the mid-70's by 11 a.m. ET. The high for Round 4 is 79 degrees later in the afternoon with wind gusts topping out at 15 mph. Here’s an in-depth look at how weather will impact 2021 Masters betting, course conditions, and how to best use that info to handicap the Masters field heading into the final round.
Unlike the November event, which featured very plush and soggy fairways, the spring track at Augusta National is expected to boast turf as tender as an airport tarmac. That means extra yards for those big hitters off the tee box.
The temperatures in Georgia heading into Round 1 were in the mid-80’s and Thursday was calling for a high of 81 degrees, which meant the fairways were dry and fast early on in the tournament. Saturday's rains and subsequent delays as well as overnight and morning precipitation on Sunday will soften the Augusta fairways for the final round of play – at least for those groups with early start times.
Winds aren’t going to be that wild during the final round nor will they make the course play different, as it did in the fall when seasonal north winds forced players to hit into the breeze on three of the four Par 5 holes. Gusts will grow in speed as the temperatures warm up on Sunday but are expected to max out at 15 mph in the late afternoon.
Second shots and approach shots have been very tricky to stick with the course playing firm through the first two rounds. While the difference may be subtle, Saturday's soaking could take the edge off Augusta National for the final round.
The subtle slopes and undulations of Augusta National have waterslide-like traction, so a misplaced approach shot can quickly veer off course and tack on extra strokes for even the most precise players. And greens will be just as unforgiving, quickly ushering balls off the dance floor and into the fringe, rough or worse – PLOP! – into the water on No. 12 Golden Bell, No. 15 Firethorn or No. 16 Redbud.
Unlike November’s tournament, in which the rain-soaked course played much nicer with others and boasted nine players at 10-under or better (Dustin Johnson -20 a winner), the 2021 Masters is rumored to have some teeth thanks to the drier weather conditions this spring – if talk during practice rounds and recaps of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur have merit.
Golfers with maximum control on their second and approach shots should be taken into heavy consideration, so weigh results from last November’s Masters very carefully when it comes to those players with less than pin-point ball placement.
If August National is known for anything, it’s the greens and the challenge the grounds crew lays down every spring. Even during the pandemic-displaced 2020 Masters, state-of-the-art turf management systems allowed the November greens to play closer to their April form.
Just like choosing a ripe melon, recognizing how firm the greens are is all about sound. According to two-time green jacket winner Bubba Watson (2012 and 2014), the Augusta greens have a distinct “thud” when the ball strikes – unlike other courses' plush tabletops that absorb that impact.
Even with the rain Saturday and Sunday morning of 2021 Masters tournament, the greens at Augusta are regulated and maintained at a level usually reserved for museum masterpieces, so don’t bank on them slowing up with a sprinkle or two.
Leaning on the best players with a putter is never a bad golf betting strategy, regardless of the event, but finding a short-game combo of calculated approach and measured putting is a smart way to cash in those Masters wagers.
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