Can Augusta withstand players' assault?
The golf world will be anxiously watching the 2002 Masters, which starts Thursday.
Changes to the course have been made in an attempt to make this classic event a tougher test of the best golfers in the world. For most tournaments, the response to the players' -- and equipment's -- improvement has been to make scoring harder by letting the rough grow knee-high and making the greens as fast as a marble floor.
Augusta National could hardly make its greens faster, but officials there have increased the length of some holes, added trees, and changed and added bunkers in an across-the-board effort to keep the course from getting embarrassed by low scores this weekend.
If all of this hasn't preserved the Masters' status as the most exciting golf tournament in the world, then there is little hope for ordinary tour events. Watching golf will become rather like watching bowling, where birdies -- like strikes -- are so numerous as to become uneventful.