With wet conditions at Augusta National Golf Club this week, mud balls were the challenge of the day in Thursday’s first round.
The Masters has never played lift, clean and place rules, but tournament chairman Billy Payne said conditions would be monitored.
Stewart Cink faced the challenge of a mud ball with his second shot at the par-5 13th hole. With a huge chunk of mud on the right side of the ball, he tried to figure out how to play the shot, with the tributary of Rae’s Creek fronting the green.
“What do you do?” Cink asked. “Do you aim way right of the green at 13? No, you can’t. If that ball goes straight, you’re dead. So I aimed in the middle of the green and it shot straight left and hit the tree right in front of me.
“I actually got pretty lucky that it went through the pine tree and got up there near the front edge of the green.”
Despite the mud ball challenge, Cink went on to par the hole and finish with 1-under 71. While Cink tried to figure out the best way to play with mud on his ball, Masters rookie Kevin Chappell said over-thinking how you play a mud ball can also be an issue.
“They affect you, but I think they affect your mind more than anything,” said Chappell, who also shot 71. “If you can just ignore the fact that there is mud on your ball, some of the time it will work out for you.”