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You know, golf is a funny game. There never was a round of golf played in a big championship or just among friends, by experts or duffers, that didn't develop its humorous situations, and often really dramatic interludes.
BOBBY JONES


    

Tuesday
Apr152014

What To Do With Augusta National's Back Nine & Poll Results

Thanks for the 650 votes to date on the question about what hole would first get your design attention, and not surprisingly the 15th at Augusta National took the prize. A total of 16% of you would not touch anything on the back nine.

I thought about last week and while I couldn't think of any ways to improve the Masters fan experience, an indirect improvement would take place if three key areas were fixed architecturally. I write about those for GolfDigest.com. My Easter gift to the Chairman.

As for the Ike's Tree situation, I wrote a feature story about that for this week's Golf World. You might be surprised by the suggested solution.

Tuesday
Apr152014

Bubba Wins The Masters: The Print Covers

It's always fun to see how great art director minds think alike when it comes to Masters covers, the one cover a year we really notice (well...in a typical year). The last time Bubba won proved that.

This week's Golfweek (Jason Lusk) and Golf World (Tim Carr) working with images by Andrew Reddington and Brian Snyder.

Tuesday
Apr152014

SBD: Buck & Norman To Helm Fox's U.S. Open Telecast

John Ourand of Sports Business Daily reports.

Neither has had a regular announce job in golf, though I'd be surprised if anyone is too worried about Buck's chances of doing anything but a stellar job. He's reportedly a low single-digit golfer and adapts to all sports he covers for Fox. Unfortunately, he's friends with USGA President Tom O'Toole so that'll get a little nauseating in year one, but he beyond that we'll be spared.

Now, the Shark...that's another story.

Norman has known of Fox's interest in him from early on, so early Fox might not have even had the contract. He will be glib and brings a big name, but having not won a USGA event or had ties to the U.S. Open like Johnny Miller, will he have the same cache?

Tuesday
Apr152014

Bubba's Next & Last Surprise Visit: Morning Drive

Only the Masters champion's agent was scheduled to come by Golf Channel Drive to map out a future Bubba visit with talent coordinator extraordinaire Courtney Holt. At around 4 am, producer Aaron Bearden had confirmed via phone that a typical Tuesday show was a go with coordinating producer Jeff Neubarth. Around the show's 7 am start in front of the studio, a rental car pulled up with Bubba Watson and agent Jens Beck arriving in Beck's rental. Moments later, Neubarth got the call from Holt to come in on his day off because Bubba was on Golf Channel property and wearing the Green Jacket.

Neubarth raced to the studio while Bubba hung out in the control room with the production team. He made no demands and just waited for the show to throw out their playbook, rearrange some chairs, pay a few bills and put a mike on the Masters champion. They sent him down the hall at 7:15.

"You always have to be ready in live TV," said Neubarth. "It's why we love our jobs."

Ryan Lavner summarizes the best insights from Bubba's multiple segments, including how he needed help putting on 18, the story behind his high-five fest en route to the scorecard signing, the reasoning for no further media tour beyond today's appearance on Morning Drive, his defense of Jordan Spieth's behavior Sunday and another reference to the inspiration he took from the Drive, Chip and Putt.

“This is an inspiration. The game of golf, it grew on Sunday. It grew when these kids were there. … It’s going to grow more when families get involved, when parents spend more time with their child (on the course). It’s going to grow y’all closer together. The game is frustrating, but they’re learning together.”

Here's his sit-down with Damon Hack and Kelly Tilghman (note neither has cards with questions or notes…confirmation this was spontaneous!).

The sitdown segment:

Talking Greenbrier, Drive-Chip-Putt and Bagdad.

The inevitable tears, induced by Rosaforte.

The gang talking to Bubba about a few more topics, including video shot of his son whapping a drive.

Monday
Apr142014

Masters Final Round Draws A 7.8, Down From 10.4

Awful Announcing summarizes the Tweets revealing the CBS final round ratings for the 2014 Masters, which they say hit a 10-year low. The 7.8 is down from a 10.4 last year and even from an 8.1 when Bubba Watson also won in 2012.

Ed Sherman says don't blame Tiger and Phil. I'm a bit shocked at some of the comments I've seen about the lack of a compelling cast. If Bubba fending off a huge mix of age groups, bonafide young guns Spieth and Fowler, along with the defending champion doesn't excite people, I'm not sure what leaderboard would. They only real fault lies in an excessive setup that stifled risk taking.

More interesting is this Classic TV Sports breakdown of the shots shown Sunday. Jordan Spieth led the way with 70, followed by Bubba at 68, Kuchar at58 and finished off by Lee Westwood at zero.

Monday
Apr142014

Epic: Poulter vs. Westwood Tweeting Incriminating Photos

Quite possibly the best Twitter duel ever is taking place between Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood, who each are unearthing and posting painful photos of the other during various fashion phases.

This was no doubt prompted by Poulter calling out Westwood last week for Lee's Masters outfit. And it's all in good fun.

Two favorites so far, though I recommend just going to their accounts linked above for a full rundown. Or someone will undoubtedly do one during a slow week:

 

 

Monday
Apr142014

Hardly A Shock: Tiger Not Looking Good For Pinehurst

Notah Begay went on CBS radio the day after the Masters and says he's spoken to his old Stanford pal. Unfortunately, Tiger Woods is unlikely for the U.S. Open at Pinehurst to continue his back surgery recuperation.

Mike Walker summarizes the Begay appearance.

Monday
Apr142014

Gary Player: Millions Saw "A Mockery" So Roll Back The Ball!

Gosh I love it when our elder speak.

From Gary Player's final golf.com 2014 Masters diary:

Here’s the thing though. Millions of people saw a man making a mockery out of Augusta National’s so-called par-5s on Sunday. When are the USGA, the R&A and the PGA going to have more vision and cut the ball back by 50 yards?

Whoa, 50! He's making us technophobes look downright conservative. We just want 10%!

When you see people hitting a driver and a wedge on No. 13, what are we doing? Where is the game going? The ball is going farther and we have lightweight shafts, metal heads, fairways cut like a flattop hairdo! I’m a great admirer of golf’s leaders, but they must realize that in 20-30 years time -- as better athletes start to play golf because it’s the only sport where you can make more money at 60 years old that when you were in your prime -- Bubba Watson will be a short hitter by comparison!

Monday
Apr142014

First Masters Poll...How Much Did Course Impact Sunday?

I know you all taped, recorded and watched my Morning Drive phone appearance today to hear Gary Williams, Damon Hack and I talk about the difficulty of the back nine. With no eagles Sunday on No. 15, no birdie on 17, and the 11th only yielding a couple of birdies, the back nine continues to be extremely difficult under Masters conditions. There is still a strong imbalance of risk and reward even with the likes of Bubba having a 360-yard drive in the arsenal.

Longtime readers know how I feel: the pines planted by Tom Fazio and Hootie Johnson down the right of the 11th and between the 15th and 17th holes, restrict freedom, clutter the grand scale of a beautiful property and blatantly disrespect the design vision of Mr. Jones and Dr. MacKenzie.

That said, with the Masters fresh in mind, I'm curious which hole stands out to you as most needing to be made more gettable, more fun, and less penal to help give the players a better chance of providing us a few more thrills.

What back nine hole most needs to be made more like it used to be?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

Monday
Apr142014

Of Course Bubba Went To The Waffle House

What else is open on a Sunday night after you've had dinner with the club brass for a little tide-me-over?

Ryan Herrington with the breaking news report on Bubba's Waffle House visit post Green Jacket 2, Tweeted about by Bubba.

Sunday
Apr132014

2014 Masters Clippings: Final Round Roundup

A few ledes to kick things off followed by what I could find after filing a feature and a blog post. Thanks for all the great comments and clicks this week. Another stellar Masters. That doesn't mean I won't be moaning this week about the silly pines. But for now, soak up another impressive Bubba Watson win and thorough coverage from a hard working gang in the media center.

Doug Ferguson, AP:

Bubba Watson's second Masters title was nothing like the green jacket he won two years ago.

David Westin, Augusta Chronicle:

Bubba Watson didn’t need a miracle shot from the pines in sudden death to win his second Mas­ters Tournament in three years. The only round in the 60s among the contenders Sunday was enough.

Steve DiMeglio, USA Today:

Bubba Watson will be the first to tell you he has issues, plenty of them, and he'll readily admit he's on the jittery side and self-diagnosed with attention deficit disorder.

Ron Sirak, GolfDigest.com:

Bubba Watson has all the shots -- and more. Sometimes when you watch him on the range it seems as if he is genetically incapable of hitting a golf ball straight.

Bob Harig, ESPN.com:

He swings out of his shoes with a pink-shafted driver, his golf ball traveling distances that are awed and admired. Bubba Golf, it is called, often with disbelief and wonder.

Bubba is The Grinch Who Stole The Masters. (Sobel/GolfChannel.com)

Angie’s perspective. (Nichols/Golfweek.com)

The details behind the tournament turning on two shots, one by Spieth and one by Bubba. (Shackelford/GolfDigest.com)

Only one media member picked Bubba in the Augusta Chronicle annual writers survey. Too bad he didn't place a wager when Bubba was 25-1, but then, he'd be admitting he's both a blogger and a degenerate. At least this will get him out of 23rd place in his fantasy league. (Augusta.com)

Jordan Spieth “had it in his hands.” (Shedloski/GolfDigest.com)

Spieth shows moxy and receives a priceless golf education. (Wojciechowski/ESPN.com)

Jonas Blixt, Masters rookie and runner up. (Armour/USA Today)

Miguel Angel Jimenez had the best showing by a geezer since Sam Snead finished T3 in 1963. (Gay/Augusta.com)

The Mechanic’s Augusta Chronicle slideshow. (Augusta.com)

Rickie Fowler couldn’t overcome the orange, finishing T-5. (Coffin/GolfChannel.com)

Rory McIlroy stunk up the par-5s but he also registered his best Masters finish yet at T8. (Armour/USA Today)

Caroline is a blond again. Almost. Except the part on top where she’s not. (AP/golf.com)

Other celebrity sightings Sunday (GolfDigest.com)

Bernhard Langer, 56, yippy, T-8. Just incredible. (Miceli/Golfweek)

Fred Couples, not as much but still impressive. (Maycock/Augusta.com)

Adam Scott couldn’t putt. (Sobel/GolfChannel.com)

Oliver Goss is your low am. (Hoggard/GolfChannel.com)

There was one birdie on 17 Sunday. Chris Kirk called the green in that area purple. (Staats/Augusta.com)

Birdies and Bogeys Sunday. (GolfDigest.com)

Grading the players. (Collins/ESPN.com)

The best of CBS’s broadcast and Poulter tweet (Strege/GolfDigest.com)

Bubba’s gear. (Johnson/GolfDigest.com)

Masters.com video highlights. (Masters.com)

Bubba’s second jacket, Masters.com highlight video for the week going back to last Sunday. (Masters.com)

Bubba’s press conference. (Masters.com).
 
Bubba’s Sunday conversation with ESPN's Tom Rinaldi. (ESPN.com)

Final round photos. (Augusta.com)

SI/golf.com photos (golf.com)

Sunday
Apr132014

Bubba Wins Second Green Jacket, Your Kneejerk Reactions

As always de-emphasize the jerk and celebrate the display of skill by Bubba Watson who seemed destined to win since his win at Riviera in February.

That said, I'll be filing some items for the next couple of hours but I'd love to hear any and all thoughts on a strange Sunday that was thrilling on the front, a dud on the back. The course, CBS, Jordan, Jonas and of course, Bubba winning his second green jacket.

Sunday
Apr132014

2014 Masters Final Round Reminders And Open Thread

Here's about all you need to know: Masters.com heats up around 11:45 a.m.-ish with the addictive Amen Corner Live coverage. The other spectacular feeds kick-in soon thereafter.

Golf Channel's Live From should be on in the background, and at 1 p.m. Jim Nantz Remembers zeros in on the dramatic Faldo victories in Augusta.

At 2 p.m, CBS carries the final round of The Masters. Viewing times here if you don't believe me.

Final round pairings.

Who the bookmakers like.

The leaderboard.

Sunday
Apr132014

2014 Masters Day Three Quick Roundup

Augusta Chronicle game story. (Westin/Augusta.com)

Bubba has a lead, even though it sure doesn’t feel like it. (Weinman/GolfDigest.com)

Jordan Spieth automatically calls anyone older tham him “Mr.” Even Bubba. (Sobel/GolfChannel.com)

Mr. Watson stumbled Saturday but still has part of the lead. (Rude/Golfweek.com)

Nice Spieth backstory stuff. (Reilly/ESPN.com)

Rickie Fowler's work with Butch Harmon is paying off. (Adler/GolfDigest.com)

Matt Kuchar doesn't sound fazed by his recent final round disappointinments (Shedloski/GolfDigest.com)

Poulter is pissed that the golf course was there for the taking and he didn’t take it. (Golfweek.com)

Putting derailed Adam Scott. (Coffin/GolfChannel.com)

50-year-old Miguel Angel Jimenez’s 67 recalls Hogan’s 66 at 54. (Fields/GolfDigest.com)

In case you missed it early, Ben Crenshaw revealed he will play just one more Masters. (Hoggard/GolfChannel.com)

Fred Couples did not take himself out of it Saturday. (Staats/Augusta.com)

Rory McIlroy admits that marker Jeff Knox beat him by one. (Ritter/golf.com)

Knox has an interesting legacy of playing as a marker. A 2013 story. (Bull/Guardian)

Phil
and Tiger talked after the second round, at least hypothetically. (Sobel/GolfChannel.com)

The purse is up to $9 million. (Hoggard/GolfChannel.com)

A young Southern belle ran across the 10th green. Yes, that's news here. (Augusta.com)

More Augusta Chronicle photos. (Augusta.com)

You guys like Kuchar and Spieth, Bubba not so much. (GeoffShackelford.com)

Final round pairings. (Masters.com)

Saturday
Apr122014

Instant Poll: Who Is Going To Win The 2014 Masters?

Still looks to me like Bubba's tournament to lose, but it also looks like just about anything could happen Sunday. But it'd be fun to see what the consensus is.

The poll:

Who is going to win the 2014 Masters?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

Saturday
Apr122014

Improved Round Two 2014 Masters Ratings, Still Way Down

Round two of the 2014 Masters did better than round one, but was still down 40% from last year's record-audience in round two when Tiger was on the air throughout the telecast.

From ESPN PR:

ESPN’s live telecast of the second round of the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on Friday, April 11, earned a 1.8 U.S. household rating, averaging 2.5 million viewers, according to fast national data from Nielsen Media. The telecast aired from 3-7:30 p.m. ET.
 
The rating and viewership rose from the first day of the event, which earned a 1.5 rating and averaged 2 million viewers, but did not surpass ESPN’s record-setting Friday from last year’s event. In 2013, ESPN had its highest-rated and most-viewed Friday telecast since it began airing the Masters in 2008, averaging a 3.0 U.S. household rating and 4.2 million viewers.
 
Over the two days of Masters telecasts, ESPN averaged a 1.6 U.S. household rating and 2.2 million viewers, both down from last year’s averages of a 2.5 rating and 3.5 million viewers.
 
“With its iconic nature and grand tradition, the Masters is one of the world’s great and beloved sporting events and as recently as last year, our viewers have responded to the Masters in record numbers,” said John Wildhack, ESPN executive vice president, production and programming. “While viewership was down this year, the Masters has a value to us that goes well beyond ratings.”

Saturday
Apr122014

2015 Masters Will Be Ben Crenshaw's Last

The two-time champion told Rich Lerner on Live From The Masters that 2015 will be his swan song from Masters play.

The full quote and a Rex Hoggard story.

“I made the decision that next year is my last year.  It is funny, on Amen Corner on the 13th hole on the first day, I hadn’t told Carl yet, but I said, ‘Carl, I’ve been thinking about this for a long time and next year would be a good year.’  I’m very, very happy with it.  I’ve thought about it for a long time. A lot of times I thought that I could have stepped down earlier.  It is hard.  Very hard.  But I have been so fortunate.  I have to look at the good things that have happened.  I have to pull over and watch.  I’m very resigned to being an encourager for everybody as much as I can.”

Saturday
Apr122014

2014 Masters Third Round Reminders, Open Thread

The fun kicks off at 10:45 ET with Amen Corner Live at Masters.com and on the app, Featured Groups come on at noon and eventually CBS at 3 pm ET. 

Here's the full viewing guide for today and tomorrow.

Tee times, commencing with Rory McIlroy at 10:15 a.m. ET and ending with Bubba Watson and John Senden at 2:45 pm ET.

Your live leaderboard.

Friday
Apr112014

2014 Masters Day Two Quick Roundup

Bubba Watson was open about doing it his own way after a stellar 68. (Sirak/GolfDigest.com)

The Augusta Chronicle's game story. (Westin/Augusta.com)

Bubba made a Patrick Reed joke. (Coffin/GolfChannel.com)

The bookies really like Bubba’s chances (Kerr-Dineen/GolfDigest.com)

Bubba's stellar tee shot on 16 setup his fifth straight birdie. (Masters.com)

If you had Jonas Blixt in the low first time Masters participant pool after 36, you win. (European Tour)

Thomas Bjorn is in contention. Not the old guy you had in mind. (Gay/Augusta.com)

Rory McIlroy and Kevin Streelman talk about the cautiousness required to play Augusta. Rory goes off first Saturday with a marker. (Murray/The Guardian)

Phil Mickelson will miss the cut for the first time since 1997. A waterless triple on 12 didn't help. (AP/golf.com)

Zach Johnson called a penalty on himself, adding to his '14 Masters misery. (Hoggard/GolfChannel.com)

Australian amateur Oliver Goss posted a clutch 1-under-par 71 and he’s likely to be the only amateur to make the cut. (Nichols/Golfweek.com)

It's Goss' birthday Saturday but he's not going to celebrate tonight, he reports. (Goss/Masters.com)

The Yin and Yang of Augusta National. (Adler/GolfDigest.com)

The New York Times opens their archive of old photos. Check out the second shot, an aerial showing the old 9th green. (New York Times)

Augusta National's 19th hole that was...for a short time. (Kupelian/Masters.com)

GolfDigest.com photos.

SI/golf.com's photos.

Friday
Apr112014

Vijay’s Lawyers Getting Snippy!

Rex Hoggard with an update on the discovery process in Vijay Singh's lawsuit against the PGA Tour.

It seems Vijay's people do not feel they are getting everything they asked for.

“The apparent rationalization for the PGA Tour’s refusal to abide by its discovery obligations is that it wants to make one, and not an additional, production,” wrote Ginsberg in a letter dated April 11.

“The PGA Tour has no legal justification for its continuing refusal to produce indisputably relevant documents and information within the (Tour’s) custody and control which do not fall within the scope of the pending motion to compel.”