Flower power won’t be evident at Augusta

Colorful blossoms already are gone

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AUGUSTA, Ga. — Something is missing from the Masters this year, a tradition at this tournament that ranks right up there with Amen Corner, endless roars on a Sunday afternoon and a green jacket for the winner.

Augusta National is no longer blazing with color.

Azaleas that typically are bursting with red and pink already have lost their bloom, or the flowers are wilting quickly. The beautiful contrast of white comes from the sand in the bunkers, not the dogwoods. Spring came early in so much of the country this year, and not even Augusta was immune.

Where have all the flowers gone?

“I saw them,” defending champion Charl Schwartzel said. “But it was last week. I was a here a week ago last Thursday, and they were beautiful. But the first thing I thought was, ‘They’re all going to be gone.’ I thought Augusta would be able to do something - get the fans on them or something. It’s weird”

Indeed, the Masters has gone green.

The 13th hole has an estimated 1,600 azalea bushes - that’s why it’s called “Azalea” - yet there are only a dozen or so bushes behind the green that still have blooms. Fans on the course Monday for a practice round posed for pictures in front of one azalea bush with its pink flowers having fallen onto the pine needles.

Yes, the tournament will manage to go on. Augusta National still is beautiful as ever with sunlight filtering through the Georgia pines and not a blade of grass out of place. But it’s not the same.

It’s like an actress without her makeup. It’s like Wrigley Field without the ivy. It’s like Ian Poulter dressed in white.

“You’re kidding. No flowers?” said Poulter, who arrived Monday dressed head to toe in white. “I can’t believe that.”

It’s not the first time this has happened, and if nothing else, it should put the rumors to rest that Augusta National packs ice on the azaleas to keep them from blooming until Masters week.

Those aren’t the only rumors.

“I always heard they had hot and cold water running through the pipes to control when it blooms,” Jonathan Byrd said.

Byrd added his own piece of color - a pink ribbon on his cap with the letter “K” to celebrate the birth of his daughter, Kate, on Friday. He showed up at the Masters expecting to be asked about his chipping and putting, not jasmine and camellia.

But he understands the significance of flowers at Augusta National, built on the home of a former nursery.

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