Bad Weather and the World’s #1 Golfer Injured
The day leading up to the 2017 Masters had its fair share of stories. Starting with the world’s #1 golfer Dustin Johnson injuring himself at the house he is renting for the tournament. On Wednesday, Johnson suffered a lower back injury due to a fall down the stairs. The reports coming from his team were not promising as his manager David Winkle stated “He landed very hard on his lower back and is now resting, although quite uncomfortably”.
Along with the lower back injury, Johnson also fell on both of his elbows, which could also affect his swing.This is not good news for the favorite to win it all this year, as he was playing at a high level, winning his last three tournaments. A lower back injury of any sorts will not sit well for the long hitting Johnson. We may be lucky if we even see Johnson tee it up come 2:03 today in Augusta.
As of Thursday morning, his training staff seemed extremely positive around the progress he made over night and Johnson’s mobility was steadily progressing. DJ also seems determined to play this week and trying to not let this accidental injury get in the way of contention. If he is at 90% Johnson can still certainly contend because of the level he has been playing at and it will be interesting to see what happens. His status was still uncertain as of Thursday morning and it seems like it will be a tee time decision if he is a go or not. If Johnson does play this week, another issue he and the rest of the field will have to face are the atrocious weather conditions ahead of the field.
How the Injury Effects Odds
The late tee time will help Johnson out and give him the extra time needed to get treatment, rest, and evaluated by the medical staff. If Johnson does seem okay to go come his tee time, I do not see his game being the level needed to win at Augusta this year. The uncertainty around Johnson has already effected Vegas odds replacing the one time favorite from the top spot with Jordan Spieth and moving Johnson to third. Spieth is now the favorite at +650 (bet $100 to win $650), followed by Rory McIlroy (+700), then Johnson at +750. The injury to Johnson has completely opened up the field this week. Taking a bet on Johnson to win seemed to be a safe bet on Tuesday, but now it looks to be a long shot.
Weather is Going to Be a Huge Factor
For the first time ever, yesterday’s Par 3 contest was cancelled due to the weather and the forecast for the first two days is not looking any better for the 2017 Masters. There is a call for high winds, and cold temperatures throughout the week. The high temperatures will not be getting out of the 60’s and lows will be in the mid 40’s to start the morning off. It is going to take patience and experience to put together decent rounds, especially the first day.
Players with experience in all conditions at Augusta should be early favorites to put together lower scores. The weather is going make players think about hitting the right spots and could make bad shots much worse to recover from on certain holes. Phil Mickelson is playing in his 25th Masters, so he has seen quite possibly every weather condition through the years. This will be a huge advantage for the oldest player in contention because he knows the course inside and out. There is a very good chance Mickelson will be going into the weekend in contention to take the title this year.
As of Thursday morning, there were no reports of damage to the course, but over an inch of rain dropped over night, so the course will be soft. These conditions will lengthen the course until it dries out, so the long hitters may be averaging quite a bit less off the tee today. The rest of the forecast for today calls for the temperatures to be in the mid 60’s with substantial winds (20-25 mph) which will certainly effect play throughout the first round of play. The wind gusts are unpredictable at Augusta, which will make approach shots and a good short game key to the first round. The back nine will make or break many of the rounds today and should be fun to watch the world’s best tackle these conditions.
It is also important to be on the lookout for European players to score well in the bad weather, since they are used to the conditions compared to American players. Rory McIlroy is favored behind Jordan Spieth to win, but his experience in these poor conditions could catapult him to the early lead. Other European players such as Justin Rose (+2200), Henrik Stenson (+3000), and Thomas Pieters (+8000) could all be in early contention this week.
The highest score to ever win the Masters is 289- 1 over par score which has happened three times, last happening in 2007. The wind was a huge factor in these high rounds as it was unpredictable and causing poor shots. It will be impressive if there are any scores better than a couple under in the first round. Once the weekend hits the weather looks to be clearing off and Sunday is going to be prime for some late round heroics to make for an interesting final day. When the pressure of Sunday sets in there will be late round collapses by another early round leader and experience will be the biggest advantage. Whether it be Mickelson or Spieth this seems to be a year for a past champion to put on the green jacket once again.
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