Drying the greens

If the Masters was just a putt-putt contest, the tournament likely would have started on Thursday. 

The opening round was rained out for the first time since 1939, but the greens held up just fine against nearly 10 cm of precipitation. 

Augusta National has installed a “SubAir'' system that literally sucks the water out of every green. It takes four hours to totally dry the greens, half that time to make them playable. 

“The greens don't have much water,'' said Will Nicholson, chairman of the competition committees. “They're soft, but that SubAir system sucks it out very, very well.'' 

Rookie Byrd 

Jonathan Byrd will be playing in his first Masters. He doesn't expect it to be his last. 

The 25-year-old Byrd qualified for his first major by finishing 39th on the money list last year, earning more than US$1 million. 

“It's definitely a dream come true and you kind of pinch yourself to think that you're actually going to play in it,'' said Byrd, who was PGA Tour rookie of the year. 

Then, he added, “There's another part of you that says, ‘This is what I've been working for, this is what I see myself doing for the rest of my life.’”  

Bargain prices 

The Masters has been called the toughest ticket in sports. If you're lucky enough to land one, it might be the best bargain, too. 

Tickets for the four-day tournament cost US$125 – compared with US$400 for the cheapest Super Bowl ticket and US$175 for a box seat at a World Series game. 

Once inside, fans used to paying US$6 for a hot dog at a big league park might be surprised at the concession stand prices. The most expensive item on the menu is US$2.50, the cost of the chicken breast and Masters club sandwiches. The famed pimento cheese sandwich goes for US$1.25, while a domestic beer sells for US$1.75. 

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