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Then there were Trevino and Zoeller, normally the Tour's Happy and Go Lucky, walking around Augusta National like mousse salesmen at a baldness convention. If Trevino cared where any of his shots went in the two rounds he lasted, they must have been the ones he aimed at green jackets. When he finished his tournament for the '80s—81 and 83—he couldn't get to his car fast enough. On his way out, he had time to leave a few thank-you notes for his hosts, such as: "You have only so many ticks in you, and I'm not going to waste 'em on this track. They've done $500 worth of renovation on the greens, but I'll bet in the books it's $700,000. A good husband on a weekend could have done it. I hope to god they don't send me an invitation. I'm going to pray all year they don't." Nice to have you, Merry Mex.
The next yeller was Zoeller, who fired a 66 on Friday but came into the press room as if he had shot 86. He was suddenly the Masters Blaster. Zoeller, the 1979 champion at Augusta, opined that the greens were as soft and puttable as, say, an escalator at the Paramus mall. "If you've got a downhill putt, you're just touching the ball and hoping you can make the 10-footer coming back," he said. "If that's golf, I'm in the wrong damn league. Golf is supposed to be fun. This wasn't fun. It's a joke out there. You don't hear the roars from the crowds at Augusta anymore. It's like a morgue. If they don't start listening to the players, they're going to be sitting around here looking at themselves and saying, 'Where did we go wrong?' "
The same sort of gripes swelled from spikes everywhere. Said the '84 winner, Ben Crenshaw, "There may not be anything living on No. 11 green. They need to call the Augusta fire department on that." Fred Couples said, "You can't hit the putts soft enough." Even an old guy like Charles Coody, the '71 champion, called it "goony golf."
After Curtis Strange used only one stroke to complete the par-3 12th hole on Friday, he said that he didn't see the ball go into the hole: "The green was so brown, a glare was there." Strange had four-putted the fried 9th hole a half-hour earlier, so his chili was still hot. When he dug the ball out of the 12th hole, he heaved it into Rae's Creek. Makes you wonder what Strange will do with the crystal trophy he'll receive from the club for making a hole in one. Caddie, my one-iron, please.
Four-putts were as prominent as the Masters' unduly famous pimiento-cheese sandwiches. Seve Ballesteros explained his quadruple-swat on No. 16 in Thursday's opening round this way: "I missed the hole. I missed the hole. I missed the hole. I made it." Zoeller said a lot of pros told him his criticism of the course was right, but Tom Watson wasn't one of them. So when Watson four-putted the 16th—he three-putted from three feet—on Saturday, Zoeller said, "I hope he enjoyed every stroke."
Watson, though, didn't waver in his allegiance to Augusta. "It's like what my friend Sandy Tatum [of the U.S. Golf Association] once said, 'We're not trying to embarrass the best players in the world. We're trying to identify them.' "
Hardin was mystified, especially by Zoeller's remarks: "It's disappointing to hear this from one of our champions. I can't believe that Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan or Sam Snead would have had the same reaction."
But Zoeller figured they would. "If you could bring Bobby Jones back to see this," he said, "I don't think he'd like it."
Well, what would Jones say? When he built Augusta National, did he mean for players to shoot 63s or 73s? Do fans want to see eagles or guys snapping putters over their knees? Spectating at the 13th and 15th—the dramatic par-5s where birdies and eagles usually lurk—was about as thrilling this year as watching reruns of Karpov-Kasparov. There were only six eagles on 13 and two on 15. "Let's bring the cheers back to Augusta," said Zoeller.
But for three days few were to be heard. On Thursday, 30-mph winds made for what the world's foremost collector of green evening wear, Jack Nicklaus, called "the most difficult conditions at the Masters in 30 years." Only six players broke par. One of them, Robert Wrenn, came to the 1st tee for the first time and said to himself, "Just don't shoot 100 out here." He shot 69 and found himself tied for the lead with the stoic and newly buffed Larry Nelson.