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Golf is the Great Mystery. Like some capricious goddess, it bestows its favours with what would appear an almost fat-headed lack of method and discrimination. On every side we see two-fisted he-men floundering round in three figures, stopping every few minutes to let through little shrimps with knock-knees and hollow cheeks, who are tearing off snappy seventy-fours. Giants of finance have to accept a stroke per from their junior clerks. Men capable of governing empires fail to control a small, white ball, which presents no difficulties whatever to others with one ounce more brain than a cuckoo-clock. Mysterious, but there it is.  P.G. WODEHOUSE



Augusta National Hasn't Decided What To Do Post-Ike's Tree

Chairman Billy Payne visited the media center for his annual State of the Masters press conference and talked about the club's plans for replacing the befallen loblollly. I summed up the Ike's Tree component here for

I did find it surprising that in answer to my question about suggestions he has received from armchair architect golfers, Mr. Payne said that no one has said anything to him.

Q.  Golfers are notorious armchair architects.  I'm wondering if you've received many suggestions for what to do with the Eisenhower Tree and maybe what was the most interesting that you have received.

CHAIRMAN PAYNE:  I have not.  I have read a lot that y'all have written about the subject and quotes from other players, but nobody's made a direct suggestion to me about it.

Alex Miceli wrote about the press conference and the continued afterglow of the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship.

Bob Harig covered Payne's answers related to possible walking rules officials in the wake of last year's Tiger drop mess.


Nantz: "I’ve never had anybody say, ‘Tell me about the ratings when Jack Nicklaus won in 1986.'"

Judging by the traffic coming in, more people than ever will be on the grounds for this week's practice rounds. The typical Masters buzz is in the air, patrons are posing for photos in front of the main scoreboard, and the Masters is the Masters. Tiger's absence doesn't seem to be a big part of the week, yet. 

But inevitably the million or more extra viewers he brings will be noted in the final ratings, but as Ed Sherman reports, Jim Nantz had a good comeback for that.

“I don’t think the golf fan cares about the ratings,” Nantz said. “I’ve never had anybody say, ‘Tell me about the ratings when Jack Nicklaus won in 1986.’ I never had anyone say, ‘Phil’s victory was great in 2004, but too bad about the rating.’ It was on Easter Sunday that year (which generally means a smaller rating).

“Yeah, we’re going to miss Tiger, but this tournament never has been about one player. It’s going to be thrilling, and I can’t wait to see what the next script is to be written.”

That said, here were the numbers last year. Not that they mean a thing about what a spectacular finish we saw.

An estimated 44.3 million viewers watched all-or-part of last year’s third and-final round Masters coverage on CBS, +13% from last year’s 39.3 million. Last year was the second highest number of viewers to watch all-or-part of CBS’s weekend Masters coverage in 12 years, behind only 46.5 million in 2010.   Australia’s Adam Scott won the coveted Green Jacket and his first career major with a birdie on the second playoff hole to beat Argentina’s Angel Cabrera.
 An estimated 37.4 million viewers saw all-or-part of CBS’s final round coverage in 2013, +13% higher than the prior year.  Last year’s 37.4 million viewers was the second-largest number of viewers to watch all-or-part of CBS’s final-round coverage since 2001 (40.1 million; Tiger Woods).  Last year trailed only Phil Mickelson’s third Masters win in 2010 (39.2 million).


Report: TPC Sawgrass Greens Need Sun, Now

Garry Smits with a report on the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course playing multiple temporary greens on the eve of its April 14, pre-Players closing.

A long winter is to blame.

TPC Sawgrass director of agronomy Tom Vlach said the heating system under the greens doesn’t help as much without some direct sunlight.

“You really need the sun for the photosynthesis to take place, and we’ve had too much overcast and too many of those marine layers coming off the ocean,” Vlach said.

The fairways are in good shape.

“... Every part of the golf course is in fantastic shape except the greens,” Hughes said.


Finally! Scripting Of Masters Outfits Gets Proper Parody

You'd have to be working hard not to see all of the Tweets and stories previewing what Jordan Spieth or Rickie Fowler will be wearing this week at the Masters.

So a very nice job by Tim Herron and his friends at Bogey Pro for finally doing what needed to be done: a send up of the out-of-control pre-Masters announcements of player outfit “scripting”. Herron, not playing in the Masters, tweeted what he'll be wearing around the house this week.

Ryan Herrington reports

The Tweet:


Phil: "Masters Speed" Greens Give Less Than A Dozen A Shot

Tuesday was the primary player press conference day and I know you missed not hearing Tiger Woods, but at least Sam Weinman did a nice job telling us what he would have said based on, well, the things he usually says.

I've filed a roundup of the six most interesting things uttered in today's Masters pre-tournament press conferences, including snippets from Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson's assertion that the greens are getting back to "Masters speed," thus whittling the list of possible winners down to less than a dozen.

Here's the full excerpt from the transcript:

What I saw today, were the greens getting back to what I call Masters speed.  If that happens, it's a lot less.  Because if that happens, the subtleties and the nuances and the penalty of Augusta National will come through.

And then players who have had multiple years playing here and know how to play certain holes, how to play certain pin placements will have a distinct advantage.  Players that don't have find the ball going to places they don't want it to go and fighting it and feeling like it's not fair and what have you.  When you're used to it and accustomed to it, you know that's what the ball is going to do and you have to go over here, just go over there and take your par and what have you; the course doesn't beat you up.  You feel more patient, take advantage of the other holes that are birdieable and you don't feel like you're fighting all the time and giving shots away.

If that's the case, if the scores plays firm and fast conditions, I think you're looking at less than a dozen.  But if it doesn't, I think you're looking at almost half the field.

Just watching some practice on the putting green and surfaces around the clubhouse, the greens are absurdly quick considering Monday's big rains. And nothing in the weather forecast would suggest they'll be getting any slower!

Jay Coffin reported on Phil's press conference revelation that he's tinkering with his wedges and only plans one driver, while Jeff Rude focused on Phil's comments about the freeing nature of Augusta National and also reports on the bet Mickelson lost to a spectator.

Bob Harig focused on Phil's comments offered (without a question) about missing having Tiger here and the impact Woods has had on the game, especially purses.

The video link to Phil's interview, posted on


2014 Masters Grouping Highlights

The Masters site has the full list of players, times and images. Check it out here.

Groupings that stood out to me:

9:35 AM  Graeme McDowell (Northern Ireland)  Rickie Fowler  Jimmy Walker
10:41 AM  Adam Scott (Australia) Jason Dufner *Matthew Fitzpatrick (Great Britain)
10:52 AM  Jordan Spieth  Patrick Reed  Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland)
1:04 PM   Jason Day (Australia)  Dustin Johnson  Henrik Stenson (Sweden)
1:15 PM  Bubba Watson  Luke Donald (Great Britain)  Sergio Garcia (Spain)
1:48 PM  Phil Mickelson  Ernie Els (South Africa) Justin Rose (Great Britain)


Tuesday Masters Live Chat: 1 P.M. ET 

You can log in here, or follow below. Talking Masters from Augusta National and welcoming questions. Come on in!





Merchandise Addendum...The MacKenzie Plan!

The Drive, Chip and Putt merchandise was taken out of the Masters merchandise pavillion for Tuesday and while my initial review still stands, there was this in its place and for just $25. Some might call it an ashtray, but my receipt says glass tray.

And yes, that's an Alister MacKenzie early plan for the course. We have a winner!


News You Can Use: Twitter And Today's Pros

I cover a variety of all-things-Twitter topics in this week's Golf World.

Though the story focuses primarily on how today's professionals are using the social media service to connect with fans, enhance their sponsorships and on occasion, get into trouble.

You can check it out here.

And if you aren't on Twitter, it's time to sign up and use it as a news service like most of today's players do. Shoot, even the Masters is on Twitter now.


"Patrick Reed's never been the kind of player who's going to go anywhere quietly."

Ian O'Connor files an excellent warts-and-all look behind the scenes at Patrick Reed, uncovering and clarifying some of the backstory rumors versus fact, while previewing the world top 5's chances of winning the Masters.

On his arrest while at the University of Georgia:

"I went out, had a drink, got arrested, but I learned a lot from it," Reed told on Monday. "It was a blessing in disguise. I grew as a person, and it taught me to stay focused on my goals to be successful and take me where I am today."

Haack didn't want to lose Reed if he could help it. He remembered his prize recruit as a gifted ball striker who won over the Bulldogs' assistant, Ryan Hybl, while playing in a tournament in Colorado. "I'll never forget Ryan calling me and going, 'This guy hits it close all day long but never makes anything," Haack said. "If he ever figures out the putter, he's going to be dangerous.'"

But ultimately, Reed made it clear he couldn't figure out what was required of him to remain at Georgia. Though Reed's father, Bill, confirmed the arrest "was one of the main reasons why Patrick left Georgia," Haack wouldn't elaborate on additional issues he had with his player.

"It wasn't a good fit for him here," the coach said. "He needed a change of scenery, and it worked out best for the both of us."

A number of Reed's teammates at Georgia either didn't return messages seeking comment or, when contacted, declined to speak publicly about the circumstances surrounding his transfer. English was one former Bulldog willing to talk about Reed's prodigious talent.


Masters: The All Important First Merchandise Center Report

One group of items stood out in the Masters merchandise pavillion and I write about them along with the high price for The Loop.

If you don't believe merchandise is a big deal here, just remember that it's probably the lone event outside the U.S. Open where players have been known to pick up a few items, as Dave Shedlosky writes.

And here are some others that caught my eye, though I've heard there are a few more fun items I haven't seen yet.


A First Look Around Augusta National

It's pouring, so I neglected to get into how dry and immaculate the course appears (Nick Masuda on the 10 am closure).

Instead, reports of shredding and other dire descriptions (Jim McCabe talked to past champs Sunday) had me expecting the worst when taking a Monday morning tour of Augusta National. It turns out that yes, a lot of trees suffered damage but in general, the place still looks beautiful and dare I say the damage did some good on  the 7th and 17th holes?

I did.

Here's the full report (including flora and fauna), with images of the 17th and the 12th.


Spoofed Already: The Paulina Cover 

Photographer Cy Cyr of Orlando idolizes Walter Iooss and lets us know it before posting the image of his take on Ioss's Paulina Gretzky Golf Digest cover.

With a little help from his (mostly out of shape) friends.


Ike Tried To Order A Hit On The Loblolly & Other Fun Tales

The Augusta Chronicle's Sunday preview section is full of great stuff, but I most enjoyed John Boyette's definitive story on the demise of Ike's Tree and the image of a former president (A) working out of an office above the pro shop, and (B) becoming so obsessed with the tree that he reportedly tried to order a hit on the tee.

From Boyette's story:

So Eisenhower called on a 15-year-old caddie, Leon McClatty, to do him a favor, according to Augusta author Peter Cranford’s autobiography.

Dr. Cranford, who died in 2000, is believed to be the first practicing psychologist in Augusta but he also wrote books on golf and the Milledgeville, Ga., hospital where he worked.

“Leon, I’ll give you a hundred dollars to come back here tonight and cut this tree down,” the president said.

Despite the commander-in-chief’s pleas, the young caddie refused.

A short video accompanies the piece:


It's Come To This: Your Comprehensive Masters TV Guide

Remember the old days when the Masters consisted of a few hours on USA and the weekend back nine on CBS?

I don't miss those days in the least, however with all of the new viewing options it took me 45 minutes to sort through the various press releases from CBS, ESPN and Golf Channel.

So warm up the printer and here's your guide to each day's Masters television viewing, from Monday's Golf Channel and Masters on the Range coverage, to Sunday's Jim Nantz Remembers kicking off the final round fun. Print away!


Masters Attention To Detail Files: DCP Player Sheet

With the Drive, Chip and Putt kicking off Masters week, the annual deep analysis of all things Augusta National kicked off a day early.

I know you'll all be glad to know that the press has beautiful new entertainment devices to take in all of the channels in high resolution.

More subtle were two completely unrelated touches. In the Masters media guide, the passing of Ike's Tree since the first edition of the guide went out was noted with a new map and new hole rendering. Somewhere, a very happy printer gladly remedied this. The 17th from above now, at least graphically. It was too late to alter the program.

The most brilliant touch was in today's Drive, Chip and Putt, where players wore color coded shirts to match the region they qualified from. That also helped fans identify players via these sheets:


Videos: Matt Jones Holes Out Twice In Stellar Fashion To Win

I was just about to moan that the PGA Tour's finest haven't produced any YouTube moments in weeks.

Matt Jones played his way into the Masters in positively wild fashion with a come-from-behind Shell Houston Open win. (Ryan Lavner on that.)

First the birdie putt on 18.

And then the playoff hole-out.


2014 Drive, Chip & Putt Wrap-Up And Photos

Here's my take on the day at, a pretty spectacular success for Augusta National Golf Club, the USGA and the PGA of America if you're about the game and not feel good ad campaigns. Frankly, I know I should expect the folks at Augusta to put on a great event, but they exceeded expectations. And kudos to the PGA and USGA for getting a great group of kids here in the first place through the qualifiers.

Ryan Herrington covered the parental angle, wondering if they were more nervous than their kids (it looked that way based on the many clutch shots!).

Jason Sobel goes the Willy Wonka route and raves about the day.

Girls 7-9 winner Kelly Xu first female champ at Augusta and is positively adorable. She's also from Santa Monica! Here's her post round interview.

Here's a super photo gallery from the day.

There are also several good stories on the Drive, Chip and Putt website with checking out. And registration has started for next year, so chop chop!

And some images too:


Dream Kraft Scenario: Lexi And Michelle In Final Pairing 

Randall Mell, fueled by the raging international controversy that is the Paulina Gretzky Golf Digest cover, opens his story by asking "who needs the cover of Golf Digest?" Oy. So let's try for the millionth time to just focus on what really matters, the potential star wars looming Sunday at Mission Hills.

Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie tied for the lead, with a great mix of veterans and another youngster in Charley Hull lurking. Mell writes:

This is golf theater at its best for the women. It’s Wie, 24, the former phenom who pulled her battle-scarred mind and body off the mat to fight for a second chance at her dreams. And it’s Thompson, still the phenom at 19, the player so many believe will become the dominant force Wie hasn’t yet become.

Thompson and Wie pulled away from the pack Saturday with stellar shot making.


Kuchar Has Chance To Move To Top Of Masters Favorites List

Ryan Lavner on Shell Houston Open third round leader Matt Kuchar, quietly improving his game each week in the build up to Augusta. But first he has to finish off the Shell. He leads Sergio Garcia by four.

On the parity that has things so wide open heading into the Masters.

The PGA Tour has endured a months-long power outage. Only one player, Zach Johnson, has won an event while ranked inside the top 10 in the world. Jason Day is the only other top-15 player to win an event this season.

“There’s a lot of depth in the game of golf,” Kuchar said.

There’s little doubt that parity is the PGA Tour’s new reality, but it poses a problem for both the casual fan, who has little interest in rooting for the 100th-ranked player in the world, and the elite player, who prefers having a dominant stud to measure his game against.

Kuchar, with a nice track record at Augusta, is currently a very attractive 20-1.

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