The second round of the 2016 Masters got under way early Friday morning in Augusta, Georgia. And while the 89 pros are set to compete against one another to make the cut and qualify to play during the two weekend rounds of golf, they'll also have to fight off Mother Nature.
Jordan Spieth, defending champion, shot a 66 Thursday to jump out to the lead at the 2016 Masters, fighting through whipping, hard-to-predict winds. Friday looks like it could be more of the same, if a bit calmer.
Historically, weather can play a major role in deciding who wins the Masters. Then a relative unknown, Zach Johnson won in 2007 amid chilly and windy conditions, his steady play besting long-hitters who struggled with the elements. Spieth grabbed the early poll position last year during a first round threatened by storm clouds at Augusta National. As overnight rains softened the ground on the greens, it made scoring conditions ideal for Spieth and harder on Tiger Woods, who prefers dry greens, on which the ball moves faster.
Weather has already affected scores in the 2016 Masters. The Thursday morning wave of tee times had lower temperatures in the mid-50s and softer, dewy greens — which can make putting easier but shortens drives because dry ground allows the ball to roll farther — while the afternoon wave eventually saw temperatures rise to the 70s. The main constant throughout the day was the wind, posted Sports Illustrated golf writer Alan Shipnuck to Twitter.
Those who overcame the wind did well. Spieth, who was able to scramble to a great score, proved adept at handling the challenge. Other top players, not as much.
"Spieth beat the course with the aid of an early tee time, and many of those who followed him dealt with steady winds gusting up to 30 mph. It made life difficult for the other members of golf’s new big three. Jason Day and Rory McIlroy both made multiple costly bogeys late on the back nine," wrote Golf.com's Sean Zak.
It was windy all day. The morning wave had softer greens, but got less roll off the tee. https://t.co/RxfuYdWGoq
— Alan Shipnuck (@AlanShipnuck) April 7, 2016
Friday is notoriously a tough day to score well at Augusta, with the course set up to play a bit harder. The weather looks decent, however, with temperatures starting in the 50s and rising to the 70s. The wind will be a bit more calm, but could still range between 10 to 20 mph in the afternoon. Augusta National has tall pines and corridors of wind that prove unpredictable. What appears to be calm conditions on ground level, can rapidly shift as a struck ball rises above the canopy and gets caught in gusts.
Luckily for the players, the wind should slow down as they move to the weekend. Temperatures are expected to drop with highs in the 60s, but the wind should calm down to the 5-to-15 mph range, with a chance of some stronger gusts Saturday. Sunday, the day of the final and deciding round, will likely be the coolest day of the tournament. There could be frost on the grass in the morning, but as temperatures pick up throughout the day there should be "a gorgeous afternoon in store for the leaders," according to Accuweather.