A fresh breeze rustled the pink dogwoods and Chinese fir trees here Tuesday, and that's not to be confused with the 25-mph wind gusts that made the aptly named Augusta National feel more like Royal Birkdale or St. Andrews.
"This looks more like a British Open press conference than it does a Masters press conference," said Tiger Woods, surveying the cardigans and Windbreakers in the crowd.
The more meaningful breeze wasn't supplied by Mother Nature. It comes from three players who aren't old enough to drink but just might have enough game to contend at the 2009 Masters.
And perhaps teenagers Rory McIlroy, Ryo Ishikawa and Danny Lee can accomplish something that the 20-something crowd has not — provide Woods with a meaningful, lasting rival.
Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott and Camilo Villegas have earned giant endorsement checks and endless adoration from female fans, but they have a combined zero major victories.
Maybe they will get lapped by the likes of the 19-year-old McIlroy, a native of Northern Ireland who is ranked 17th in the world and shot a 68 in the opening round of the 2007 British Open at Carnoustie.
"Rory must use Tiger as a role model and raise the bar," said Gary Player, who will be competing Thursday in his 52nd, and final, Masters.
Player won all four majors before turning 30. Jack Nicklaus accomplished the superfecta at 26. Woods was 24.
Woods confidant Mark O'Meara played with McIlroy earlier this year in Dubai and said that "ball-striking wise at 19, he's probably better than Tiger was at 19."
And McIlroy's not timid, either.
Is he in awe of Augusta National? Hardly.
"I'm not really one to get overwhelmed by much these days," he said.
And he said of his fellow teens, "It's great for golf. Hopefully it inspires people who are not that much younger than us to take up golf and try to emulate what we have done."
Lee supplanted Woods as the youngest U.S. Amateur champion (18 years, 1 month) and won a European Tour event, the Johnnie Walker Classic, in February.
He played a practice round at Augusta National last week and recalled thinking the course was "easy ... I thought I could shoot 5 or 6 under."
Lee, a Korean native whose family moved to New Zealand in 2001, is under no such illusions now.
Lee admitted to nerves and a stomach ache in the interview room — and said he was "shaking" on the course because of the crowds and brutal conditions.
"I wasn't swinging properly," he said.
Ishikawa, who's 5-foot-7 and 140 pounds and won't turn 18 until September, will become the Masters' second-youngest competitor. "The Bashful Prince," as he is called, already has six top-five finishes on the Japan Golf Tour.
"The quality of golf is definitely getting better with the younger generation," said Anthony Kim, who won twice on the PGA Tour last year and joked about suddenly feeling old at 23. "I think kids like myself and other guys ... our technique is probably a lot better (than previous generations) because we have access to great golf facilities and great coaches."
Even if their clubs weigh the same, they might be carrying less weight. They don't have the burden of being in the same age bracket as the 33-year-old Woods.
Hey, it's a theory.
"The guys who played in Tiger's era maybe thought he was unbeatable," McIlroy said.
Woods reminisced Tuesday about his first Masters, in 1995. He drove in from a college event hosted by Georgia Tech, and the hour was too late to make out the famous sights of Magnolia Lane.
Now, 14 years later, he's the one inspiring a generation and offering advice to the likes of McIlroy.
"He certainly shows the talent," Woods said. "It's just a matter of gaining the experience in big events. There's no hurry. There's no rush."
The Masters WHEN: Thursday-Sunday.WHERE: Augusta, Ga.TV: 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday on ESPN.