THE WEATHER FORECAST
It’s expected to improve through the weekend. There’s a 50 percent chance of rain this morning with temperatures expected to remain in the mid-60s. The chance of rain should drop through the afternoon. On Saturday, it’s expected to be partly cloudy with a high near 74. Sunday’s forecast is sunny and 80 degrees.
Charlotte resident Webb Simpson shot even-par 72 in his first official Masters round, closing with 20-foot birdie on the 18th hole. The closing birdie offset a disappointing bogey at the par-4 17th after Simpson hit an ideal drive then missed the green long on his approach because of a chunk of muddy grass on his ball.
“To come back on 18 with a birdie was great,” Simpson said.
Simpson started well, making a birdie on the par-5 second hole on his way to a 1-under 35 on the front side, handling the nerves he expected to feel.
“I did feel nerves, but we’ve been swinging well all week,” Simpson said. “Any time you’re swinging well, it calms the nerves a little bit. To shoot even the first time around, I’m pleased.”
• Charlotte resident Robert Karlsson opened with a 2-over 74 that left him scrambling to make up ground in the second round. It fit the pattern of his early 2012 season, which has been solid but unspectacular, lacking a top-10 finish on either the PGA or European Tours.
“My game feels pretty good. I’m just not putting it all together,” Karlsson said. “I’m doing a lot of good things. It’s all right.”
Like most others, the pin positions got Karlsson’s attention.
“Tough pins,” he said. “It’s either/or out there. There’s a very small margin of error. They’re the toughest Thursday pins I’ve seen.”
• It was a hugely disappointing start for Charlotte resident Johnson Wagner, who was paired with legend Tom Watson.
Wagner, who arrived full of confidence, had a wreck on the back nine, making four straight bogeys followed by a double-bogey, starting at No. 11. Wagner finished with a 79.
• Mark O’Meara withdrew before the first round, citing injury.
• It’s not the most famous hole at Augusta National, but the par-4 first can be a beast, and it was on Thursday. It ranked as the toughest hole on the course, averaging 4.379 strokes, and seven players made double-bogey or worse, including Rory McIlroy and Keegan Bradley.
• Here’s another example of the little things the Masters does that sets it apart: Its on-course restroom facilities are manned by attendants, who keep it clean and even tear off paper towels for patrons so they don’t have to do it themselves.
• There’s a new, sprawling hospitality facility called Berckman’s Place up the hill behind the fifth green and 16th hole, where a patrons parking lot used to sit. If it’s possible to be understated and spectacular at the same time, it is. Of course, it looks as if it’s been there for years, with ivy climbing on one part of the facility.
• Arnold Palmer has an iced tea/lemonade drink named after him. Now Jack Nicklaus has three lemonade drinks named “Golden Bear” in his honor.
TODAY’S TEE TIMES
7:50 a.m.: Scott Verplank Sean O’Hair, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano
8:01: Mark O’Meara, Chez Reavie, Martin Laird
8:12: Sandy Lyle, Simon Dyson, Corbin Mills (a)
8:23: Ian Woosnam, Edoardo Molinari, Kevin Chappell
8:34: Louis Oosthuizen, Mark Wilson, Graeme McDowell
8:45: Zach Johnson, Ian Poulter, Patrick Cantlay (a)
8:56: Kevin Na, Fredrick Jacobson, Ben Crane
9:07: John Senden, Jonathan Byrd, Paul Casey
9:18: Bernhard Langer, Jason Dufner, Charles Howell III
9:29: Mike Weir, Brandt Snedeker, Webb Simpson
9:40: Vijay Singh, Lee Westwood, Jim Furyk
10:02: Thomas Bjorn, Scott Stallings, Rory Sabbatini
10:13: Fred Couples, Darren Clarke, Ryo Ishikawa
10:24: David Toms, K.J. Choi, Sergio Garcia
10:35: Angel Cabrera, Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson
10:46: Phil Mickelson, Hunter Mahan, Peter Hanson
10:57: Craig Stadler, Brendan Steele, Tim Clark
11:08: Jose Maria Olazabal, Robert Garrigus, Randal Lewis (a)
11:19: Larry Mize, Paul Lawrie, Anders Hansen
11:30: Ross Fisher, Ryan Palmer, Harrison Frazar
11:41: Ben Crenshaw, Robert Karlsson, Bryden Macpherson (a)
11:52: Adam Scott, Bo Van Pelt, Martin Kaymer
12:14: Steve Stricker, Padraig Harrington, Stewart Cink
12:25: Aaron Baddeley, Kyung-Tae Kim, Lucas Glover
12:36: Kyle Stanley, Jason Day, Bill Haas
12:47: Trevor Immelman, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose
12:58: Tom Watson, Johnson Wagner, Hideki Matsuyama (a)
1:09: Matt Kuchar, Geoff Ogilvy, Yong-Eun Yang
1:20: Gary Woodland, Henrik Stenson, Alvaro Quiros
1:31: Charl Schwartzel, Keegan Bradley, Kelly Kraft (a)
1:42: Tiger Woods, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Sang-Moon Bae
1:53: Luke Donald, Francesco Molinari, Nick Watney