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Current Reading
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    Kindle Edition

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Writing And Videos

Pits which day after day in practice rounds are passed unnoticed, suddenly assume terrible aspects on tournament days, but generally it is the fear of the hazards which in reality is more terrifying than the hazards themselves. A.W. TILLINGHAST



"Golf is going to have to do a lot of thinking in the future."

Reader Andruw pointed me to this AP story talking about how all the well-off patron offspring would be getting in this week to help grow the game. Not much of interest, though this quote from Gary Player is worth remembering:

"Golf rounds are going down. The average golf course is getting so long. All the clubs you go to are making their golf courses longer and longer, so all the costs are going up and up," Player said. "Golf is going to have to do a lot of thinking in the future. That’s why we need a lot of young people to be playing golf."



2008 Masters Saturday Live Blog

masterslogo.gifI knew the heavyweights would come to the club's defense. William Rhoden pens a mess of a piece in today's New York Times, John Paul Newport's piece made me laugh and I just heard Tim Rosaforte declare on Golf Channel that those of us who miss the old, more vulnerable and democratic Augusta are suffering from a bout of revistionist historitis.

Here we go, feel free to email comments to and post your thoughts below. All times Pacific because I feel like it.

12:30 -  Here we go. We open with Phil making a 7 footer for par on No. 1 and the final pairing in the fairway. Right to the golf, very nice.

12:34 - Okay I typed too soon. We're doing Arnold Palmer baby pictures, fathers and sons and eghhh..."the circle of life at Augusta" according to Jim Nantz. Take that Tim Rice and Elton John! Will Elton-buddy Nick Faldo break into his own rendition?

12:42 - Tiger misses right of No. 9 green from right second cut. But as Nantz notes, after the 45 minute rain delay the ball stays close to the green. Conditions are ripe for scoring, let's see if it happens. 

12:43 - This camera angle on No. 2 is outstanding and I believe new? It really shows of the brilliance of this green complex. 

12:45 - Leaderboard: Immelman -8, Snedeker -7, Mickelson -6, Poulter -5, Casey -5, Flesch -5. 

12:50 - New 3-D animation from CBS showing No. 10's terrain. VERY cool. 

12:51 - First "Hello friends" from Jim Nantz. And I'm said to say this blog has no influence as the fireplace looks worse than ever.

12:56 - Snedeker makes birdie on No. 2 and appears very relaxed. He moves to -8 in tie with Immelman who misses a 5 footer that Oosterhuis notes was "not a difficult putt" twice.

12:58 - Phil pulling out wedge on 3 green after horrible approach shot. Nantz's photographic memory recalls Phil doing the same thing last year at Riviera.  I was there and I barely remember it! Phil leaves himself a 20 footer that he makes for par.

1:01 - Tiger birdies No. 10, -2 today, -3 overall and just five back. 

1:10 - IBM airs businesspeak buzzword bingo ad!  

1:16 - Tiger's birdie putt on 11 is accompanied by an open mike sound that was actually Frank Chirkinian screaming about Nick Faldo pulling a Johnny Miller and reminding us how the putt was the same one he had when he won there in a playoff. Of course the green has been rebuilt and Faldo noted the hole is cut in a different spot, but other than that it's close!

1:19 - Immelman pulls it left of 4 green and we see a half empty grandstand. What's the deal patrons? 

1:24 - Immelman misses for par on No. 4, Snedeker is your lone leader at -8. 

1:28 - A reader noted that the number of spike marks is rather incredible considering there are only 46 players on the golf course today. Imagine a full field on those greens...

1:40 - Tiger on No. 13, at the Masters graphic from CBS: Par 3s +18, Par 4s +6, Par 5s -87. 

1:47 - Leaderboard update with leaders through 6 holes: Snedeker -8, Immelman -7, Flesch -7, Casey -7, Mickelson -5, Poulter -5, Woods -4, O'Hair -4

1:54 - Snedeker leaves approach into 7 in front bunker, gives caddy a look and head shake that makes me think he was talked into a club that left him short.

1:55 - We see the rear view of No. 14 green. When did the big tree that was protecting the left front come down?  I haven't seen that mentioned in any stories about course changes.

2:01 - Paul Casey birdies No. 9, fires 32 on the front to join the lead with Snedeker.

2:04 - Tiger hits his tee shot down the left of 15, twirls the club and calls himself a "dumbass." 

2:07 - Poulter shanks it from a slight downhill lie on No. 9 fairway, skulls his next wedge shot. But at least he looks great.  

2:08 - Tiger hits massive hook into No. 15 right greenside bunker. Stevie is not wearing his caddy issued green hat.  He's such a maverick!

2:10 - Nantz brings in Peter Kostis, Paul Casey's longtime instructor who says they worked on sidehill lies and shaping shots coming into Augusta. Kostis said too many players are working on technique when they get to Augusta.

2:14 - Leaders on 8. At least half of spectators in grandstand dressed as seats. Snedeker birdie putt swirls around cup, gets him to -9 and Oosterhuis notes that he looks "pretty comfortable in this situation."

2:22 - CBS replays the epic Tiger chip in from 2005. It never gets old. And that seemed like a new camera angle, or maybe it was just treated with a different finish. 

2:29 - Faldo notes the pressure is changing...players are sporting rain gear, it's cooling off.  

2:34 - Something is wrong here. The leaders are walking down 10 and fans are walking up the hill in the opposite direction, leaving in droves! 

2:37 - Nantz says it's "thinning out at the top" as Mickelson misses his par putt on 10. Meanwhile Retief is sneaking up the leaderboard, making eagle 3 on No. 13. "It's interesting what's happening here Nick" as Nantz lists all of the people backing up. Meanwhile Snedeker looks calm, cool and like he's having fun.

2:40 - That's what we need to hear, a few more roars on the back nine" - Oosterhuis after roar following Tiger's second near-hole-out on No. 17. 

2:48 - Tiger is on 18 in the trees and Faldo says he can see his opening from his booth. Nantz says "really," meaning he is still in Butler Cabin. They had me fooled, I thought they were announcing from the same spot!  Tiger hits awesome recovery. Better get a tree out there to fill in that gap. That was way too heroic!

2:55 - Tiger makes ho-hum par, 68, -5, four back. CBS reminds us with a graphic that he's never won a major trailing after 54.  

3:00 - Bill Macatee tracks down Tiger behind 18 "who said 68 was about the highest score I could have shot" and that he put himself "right back in the tournament."

3:18 - Leaders play 12, Snedeker makes bogey, Immelman makes par, grandstand manages to remain mostly full. 

3:21 - Phil nearly makes eagle, gets him to -3. As Kostis notes, one more birdie and he might get himself in a pairing with Tiger. 

3:22 - Graphic of No. 15 green complex by CBS - simply phenomenal stuff. Wonder who did this for them? What a great addition to the presentation.

3:25 - Snedeker has 231 into No. 13, almost misses creek to the right. "Really bad error at this point in the proceedings" says Kostis who noted he was aiming right before the shot was hit. Immelman nails wedge shot third tight.

3:29 - "This golf course with its redesign doesn't allow you to recover much" - Kostis after Paul Casey's bogey on 15 and what he sees as tentative plays.

3:32 - Oh oh, Phil birdies 14 and just like that he's -4 again after struggling.  Sure would have been nice to have seen that approach shot.

3:37 - Three straight bogies for Snedeker, but "he still has that smile" according to Macatee.

3:38 - Leaderboard update: Immelman -9, Casey -8, Flesch -7, Snedeker -6, Woods -5, Mickelson -4, Cink -4, Goosen -3 

3:44 - Snedeker gets it back to -7 with birdie on 14, Flesch and Mickelson hit great spinning thirds to 15 and Immelman drains birdie on 14 to move to -10. Some excitement! Augusta is back! Well, not quite but at least something's happening.

3:51 - Phil misses in right greenside bunker on 16, making possible Tiger pairing that much tougher. CBS announce crew goes into mourning mode. 

3:56 - "It's about as hard to hit the green here as it is up the hill." - Feherty, describing the third shot into 15. 

3:58 - Whoa, Immelman hits No. 15 green, spins it back and Feherty thinks it is going into the water but as it's rolling, he notes a flat spot. Sure enough it nestles down. Nantz chimes in with a comparison to the 1992 Fred Couples shot stopping on the bank. Great stuff!

4:03 - Snedeker drains birdie putt, moves to -8 as Phil doubles 16 to drop to -2. Immelman gets up and down from front bank, lead still at 2.

4:06 - Snedeker hits 7 iron to middle of green, ball rolls down to lower shelf. Immelman yanks it way let but ends up in the same spot as Snedeker. Which hole location is more lame on 16, today's or the front right one we haven't seen (thankfully) this week. 

4:11 - Two fine two-putts from the lower shelf by Snedeker and Immelman. And we know they are fine two putts thanks to Phil from just a moment ago. Immelman -10, Snedeker -8.

4:12 - Oy vey, Peter Kostis interviewing his client Paul Casey. Uh, is Bill Macatee having lunch? Come on CBS, it's one thing to get Peter's insights on Paul's game, which were great, but this is a no-no. Even Kostis looks uncomfortable doing it. Proof: the hilarious "good luck" afterwords, when they're probably having dinner together! Nantz says it's a bit "surreal." That's one way of putting it.

4:26 - Flesch sticks 180 yard shot on 18, birdie gets him to a 69 and -8 and may get him in the last pairing. Immelman is in second cut on 17 and stops his approach too quickly actually. The cut doesn't appear to hurt him. Makes nice two-putt while Snedeker makes solid par.

4:31 - Great audio work by CBS guys to get Snedeker and caddy talking about his 6-iron club selection on 18. Snedeker hits it 6-7 feet.  Big smiles for Brandt and caddy.

4:33 - Immelman hits it inside Snedeker. "Unreal" declares Nantz.  "How about these two shots?"

4:35 - Bill Macatee is back from his lunch break to interview Steve Flesch!! "You're in the moment here," declares Macatee. Oy vey.

4:38 - Snedeker makes his birdie, finishes -9 after a -2 70. Finishes 2 back of Immelman who birdies as well t finish -11 after a 69.  "Phenomenal" declares Nantz.  Took 4:10 to play the round.

4:39 - Well that was a fun day, some great moments late in the round thanks to birdies by the leaders. A shame Phil took himself out but still has the ingredients for an exciting final day. 


Clampett Apologizes For Racial Slur; No Contrition Yet For Repeated Hogan's Bridge References

Considering that his is a man who used to use "jizz" to describe spin and mentioned someone almost "bottomed out" in lieu of hole in one, why am I not surprised that Bobby Clampett used a description for Wen-Chong Liang that only Morty Seinfeld uses.

Michael David Smith reports on his apology and also questions the wording of the apology in this AOL FanHouse post.

Clampett has been working Amen Corner the last two days, and his commentary can be heard both online and on DirecTV. He used the "chinaman" slur while describing Liang's round and explaining that he will not make the cut.

"It has been a privilege to be here with you the last 2 days describing action of all of the players. In describing the Asian player Wen-Chong Liang if I offended anybody please accept me sincere apologies."

Dateline Augusta: Saturday, April 12, 2008 Edition

DatelineAugustaYou can check out my look at Saturday's best golf writing by either going directly to the Dateline Augusta blog or to the Saturday post here.


"This course is so vastly different [from other courses] in so many ways"

Somehow I missed this really excellent Lorne Rubenstein piece from Thursday before the first round unfolded.

Crenshaw played yesterday with Jim Furyk and Mike Weir, who is increasingly interested in course design. At one point, Crenshaw and Weir stood on the rear left of the 10th green. Crenshaw was gesturing toward various areas as though he were a teacher explaining things to a student. He continued to instruct as they walked to the 11th tee.

When they were finished a couple of hours later, Crenshaw was delighted to chat about Augusta National. He stood behind the 18th green and offered what amounted to a scholarly analysis of the place: where it was, and where it is.

"This course is so vastly different [from other courses] in so many ways," Crenshaw said.

"When you start narrowing the corridors so much, you feel like the test is like another course. There's never been a more strategic course than this one, in that it makes you really think and plan an angle of attack."

Crenshaw, like any player who really understands architecture, rues the lessened importance of strategic golf. He emphasized that the elements still remain when the course plays fast and firm so that the ball bounces, but even then not nearly as much as he'd like and as was once the case.


Augusta National's course consultant, Tom Fazio, has supervised the changes. He claims that the course needs some rough and added length.

"I disagree with that notion," Crenshaw said of the idea that golfers don't play the angles any more. "To play some of these pins, you want to be on one side or the other. You want to go this way or that way, either off the tee or into the green.

"There's no doubt that Augusta National and courses all over the world have to do something in defence of their course, with the way that these guys can play and the way that the ruling bodies let equipment go," Crenshaw added. "It's a Catch-22. I understand what they've done. But a place like this, it's a thinking test."

The same day, Bill Huffman quoted Ben this way:

“It plays much harder,” Crenshaw noted. “My only question is: Is it as interesting as it used to be or can be?

“In other words, the top players who have a chance, how do they play the course? Do they play it more defensively now, because there’s so much more golf course?”


Round Two Thoughts

Wow, 5 hours and 37 minutes later for the last group, what a strange day. Thankfully the course was vulnerable in the morning, making for great Amen Corner Live viewing. Unfortunately the afternoon provided more defensive golf with the combo of breeze, drying conditions and slow play.

Tiger seems nicely positioned, as does Phil. The ingredients are there for a classic, hopefully the weather will cooperate. Oh, and that the course setup will make it about the players and not themselves. Today was a nice first step.

Your thoughts? 

PS - I'll be doing a live blog of the weekend rounds so come on by and post away. 


"I have to address or look at the round differently starting out."

Phil Mickelson, after his second round 68 got him within three of Masters leader Immelman.

Q. Is it still fun playing this golf course or is it a grind?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it's changed. I mean, it's changed. It's always fun, don't get me wrong. It's always fun to come play here, but after the changes a few years ago, we don't see the same type of excitement and birdies that we're used to seeing.

And because of that, we have to -- I have to address or look at the round differently starting out. I can't think about it in aggressive terms. I have to kind of pick and choose what holes I can try to make birdies on. Like I said earlier, I hit some good shots to spots where I can make easy pars but really not good birdies.



Trevor Immelman's Press Center Visits

Here's leader Trevor Immelman's post round chat today where the slingers grill him about his tumor. Yesterday, the topic was taboo for one writer who didn't know what was up:

Q. When you were talking with Mike Tirico, you made reference to some stuff going on in your personal life; can you elaborate more?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, it's an extremely long story that we would probably be here until nine o'clock, so I'm not going to go through --
RONALD TOWNSEND: Next question --
TREVOR IMMELMAN: The whole thing. (Laughter) but I'm sure some of the other reporters would be happy to fill you in. shares this video of his chat today, as well as highlighy footage:



"The lack of any traffic, really?"

Over on the Golfweek Masters blog, Scott Hamilton wonders...

What’s the deal with the lack of foot traffic along Washington Road today? The lack of any traffic, really?

Sure the street that passes directly in front of Augusta National Golf Club still has more cars on it than a three-brand auto mall along a South Carolina interstate. And, yes, those cars are creeping along at a glacial pace.

But it’s Friday at the Masters and the vibe feels anything but Masterslike. There’s little buzz along the sidewalks – which are far from packed – and the various vendors set up along Washington Road don’t appear to be getting much business. That includes the stand selling various golf photos and – for whatever reason – a picture of Mickey Mantle (and it was set up in the center of a display, no less).

The guy getting the most business was the man preaching to anybody within earshot. But that’s because he was smart enough to set up near a pair of crosswalks in order to secure a captive audience.

It may be quiet now, but Tiger Woods isn’t on the course yet. Gotta think business is about to pick up.

Those of us viewing at home are even more startled by how the property begins to empty out around 5 p.m. 

Makes you wonder if they could offer a new badge that allows patrons willing to stay late on Thursday and Friday to enter the gates after 2 p.m.? If nothing else, to fill some of those empty seats.


"To be coming into these greens with woods, it is not designed that way is it? "

Ben Crenshaw had a 3 wood into 18 and after hitting his approach into the left bunker, Nick Faldo snickered sympathetically and said, "it's a bit cheeky to be calling Ben an old timer, but to be coming into these greens with woods, it is not designed that way is it?"

Jim Nantz wanted no part of that and started reminding us about Carl Jackson and Ben's embrace in 1995! 


Dateline Augusta: Friday, April 11, 2008

DatelineAugustaThe latest round up of stories is now posted at


"Before, there was always a little cherry dangling."

Sandy Lyle talked to Mike Aitken after his openign round and Lyle offered this on the course after his opening 72:

"They've taken away a lot of choices," he volunteers. "Before, there was always a little cherry dangling. For instance, on the first hole it was 265 yards over the bunker, so you looked at the wind, at the pin position, and decided whether to go for it. If it came off you got your reward. Now it's 320 yards to carry that bunker, and it's scary. So I think they've spoilt the course a little bit and, although it doesn't necessarily play into the hands of the long hitters – no one would describe Zach Johnson, last year's winner, as long – it means fewer guys can be competitive out here."

And the search continues for someone praising the direction the golf course has gone in. 


Round 1 Finished...Finally!

Villegas, Westwood and Baddelay sprinted up No. 18 to finish in 5 hours and 14 minutes under clear skies and no wind. Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo were questioning the move and with Westwood shooting 69 and contending, you can understand why he wanted to keep playing. Right?

Please, your thoughts on the day? 


Butler Cabin Fireplace Watch

Last year I live blogged round 1 and noted that the Butler Cabin fireplace looked like it had been doubling as the town crematorium.

Each day it's blackened stone supports progressively improved and we noted it here and here. I considered the club's urgent response a landmark moment, but probably a rough week for someone in Augusta National housekeeping.

This year it looks just as blackened, so this time I took a photo. Let's see if they break out the cleaning crews by Sunday.




Captain Olazabal?

Just in case Monty had any delusions of Captaining Europe's Ryder Cup squad from 2010 to 2014, Derek Lawrenson reports that Jose Maria has been offered the '10 gig at Celtic Manor.

What on earth did Sandy Lyle do wrong?


"It would suck to have to come out at 8 and we've got a 10:45."

At the 6 p.m reset with music and Jim Nantz waxing on about day one, the crane shot captures Phil Mickelson crossing the bridge, setting up Nantz to ask us to consider all of the greats who have crossed the Hogan Bridge. The music was turned down and as Phil's crossing, he's deep in conversation with Bones and says: "It would suck to have to come out at 8 and we've got a 10:45."

So I think it's safe to say Phil wants to finish the round today. 


"You don't really shoot low rounds here anymore."

Mike Tirico left his post at Butler Cabin to talk to Tiger Woods after his even par 72. (Zach Johnson and Justin Rose came into Butler.)

A few of Tiger's notable comments:

"You don't really shoot low rounds here anymore. You've just got to plod along."


"It's playing more like a U.S. Open than a Masters."

He also noted he only heard one roar. Other than that he loves the changes!


No. 11 and Bobby

11.jpgAmen Corner live is much improved and amazing production feat. The images, the quality of the media player and the...well, there is the announcing.

Bobby Clampett manned the booth for the first four hours. Now, I can deal with the Hogan's Bridge references. I can deal mentions of Brett Wetterich's great impact dynamics. And I certainly get a big chuckle out of Bobby's bottom obsession ("swing bottom" "forward swing bottom" and shots "almost bottomed out").

I can even deal with Bobby thinking that Zach Johnson has taken the lead right before his eyes, followed by a two shot lead when a quick glance at the leaderboard says otherwise.

Oh, and I can even handle the blatant sucking up to the "committee" when discussing the changes to No. 11.

What I can't deal with is his ignorance and direspect for the strategic design school that made Augusta National special.

Clampett complimented the ridiculous planting of trees down the right side of No. 11 because the ideal angle of approach (in his view) is from the left side. This corporate mentality of closing out the account because no one is buying the product seems fitting these days, but completely ignorant of what subtle, democratic and strategic design is about.

In the old configuration you were free to choose your angle of attack, Neither angle was easy.

Now let's say Bobby is correct and the left side is the preferred angle. Why would you want to close off the less idea angle if someone wants to take it?

Shouldn't their stupidity be encouraged and the intelligent play rewarded?

Isn't that more interesting than taking away liberties and telling players where to play?

Not in Bobby Clampett's mind. 



"Why bother trying?"

I normally don't pay attention when non-golf folks dare to write about golf, but in the case of Tiger and his peers seemingly being afraid of the man, I think Bill Plaschke's outsider take is worth noting. I'm not quite sold on this data though:

At least one study has shown that other golfers' fear of Woods is not only palpable, but measurable.

According to eight years of data collected by Jennifer Brown, a doctorate candidate in agricultural and resource economics at California, tour regulars average nearly a stroke higher in tournaments that include Woods.

Brown formulated her theory in a paper titled "Quitters Never Win: The (Adverse) Incentive Effect of Competing With Superstars."

She discovered a .80 stroke differential when golfers are confronted by Woods, a number that rises during periods when Woods is hot, and decreases during those rare times when he is perceived to be in a slump.

"This shows that if you are competing against an opponent you believe will win, you think, 'Why bother trying?' " said Brown, whose study has been embraced by several national media outlets.

Masters Photo Caption Fun, Vol. 1

What's Phil saying to Tiger? Thanks to reader Nick for this.