Blame it on the rain: Masters washed out on first day

By Eddie Pellis

AUGUSTA, Ga. ? Wet, tired and muddy, Steve Jennings and Paul Jaycox tromped toward the exit and back to the car.

They drove 14 hours from upstate New York to make it to the Masters by Thursday morning. They saw no golf.

After four days of drenching rain in Augusta, the place the two club pros came to see looked a lot like the place they left.

Up there, they call it Woodstock.

"I'm happy to be here, but it's kind of a bad day for us," Jennings said, after the Masters was called because of rain.

They weren't alone.

With a light, steady rain falling, thousands of patrons waded through Augusta National, the famed golf course-turned-mud bog. They were caked in filth, holding umbrellas, walking through waterlogged grass and trying to salvage something from the first-day washout.

Several went souvenir shopping. One fan said it took him 30 minutes to wind his way through the lines simply to get into the main gift shop near the entrance to the course.

Others stood out in the rain, determined to see golf balls struck, even if it was just for practice. Once the rainout was called, several players spent some time brushing up their games.

Fans queued up four and five deep behind the ropes at the putting green, watching Jay Haas, Gary Player and others monotonously roll balls down the slickened surface.

The scene was the same at the driving range, and at the short-game practice area, where Toshi Izawa flipped ball after ball out of the sand, all of them coming within inches of the hole he was aiming at.

"Wouldn't that be great if he was doing that on the course?" one fan said.

After the first opening-round rainout in 64 years, play was scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m. EDT Friday. Masters officials said they hoped to get through 36 holes. With as much as an inch of rain expected Thursday and into Friday morning, though, some players thought they were only dreaming.