Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos
  • Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    by Jim Moriarty
  • Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    by Kevin Cook
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    by Richard Gillis
  • The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    by Martin Davis
  • A Life Well Played: My Stories
    A Life Well Played: My Stories
    by Arnold Palmer
  • Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    by Kevin Robbins

It is a wonderful tribute to the game or to the dottiness of the people who play it that for some people somewhere there is no such thing as an insurmountable obstacle, an unplayable course, the wrong time of the day or year.




"I'm getting hosed on the coverage!"

Stewart Cink filed this "Tweet' after round one:

Watching some of the ESPN replay. I'm getting hosed on the coverage! 

I don't have the heart to reply to his post that it might have been that orange shirt. I even tried to find a photo of it but the extensive photo gallery wouldn't show it.

Then again Stewart, if it's any consolation, they really didn't show that many other golfers today.


2009 Masters Round 1 Live Blog


Thursday Masters Clippings: Let The Fun Begin, Maybe

We survived the Par-3 Contest this year thanks in part to a shorter telecast, faster play and an unforgettable 3 by Gary Player. I'll be doing the live blog thing again Thursday during round one, so come join us.

As for the coverage from Wednesday, there's plenty of fun stuff, though I did once again get the sense that a few stories were posted early so the scribes could go clean up and practice their GWAA award acceptance speeches.

Mark Soltau captures the day best, says the buzz was back in the air Wednesday and shares some fun miscellaneous observations.


Lawrence Donegan on England's Oliver Wilson, an Augusta State man:

Wilson shared a house bordering the 13th fairway of the Augusta National with other members of the golf squad, although,like everyone else in the world, they spent most of the time outside peering through the fence. "We were literally 10 yards from the course, and you heard all kinds of stories about people sneaking on," he says. "Not that I ever did myself."

Mark Lamport-Stokes on Jeev Singh, who will see a lot of the next few days.

"I'm going to be a little nervous for sure but that's what we play golf for, try to make the most of it and see what happens. It's certainly a pleasant surprise."

Drew Kittleson learned a valuable lesson: BYOS...bring your own Sharpee!

Billy Payne

John Boyette reports that the Californication of Augusta has arrived, with smoking no longer allowed in the seating areas.

Doug Ferguson looks at Billy Payne's contention that weather is to blame for the course changes not working and leans on Tiger to make the case that even weather might not be enough to restore the ANGC of old. He also notes Payne's admission that the last few years haven't been too exciting.


Champions Dinner

James Corrigan on Seve's emotional letter that was read to the Champions Dinner gathering Tuesday night:

At the Champions Dinner in the Augusta clubhouse on Tuesday night, Jose Maria Olazabal read out a letter from Seve Ballesteros. Inevitably, these were to prove emotive words from the Spaniard still trying to beat cancer at his home in Pedreña. But the part that had the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh really reaching for the hankies, came near the end. "I wish I could be there," said Seve.


Dave Kindred writes a par-3 contest column and manages to do it without doting on the children. Hallelujah!

John Boyette posts the closest-to-the-hole shots for the day.

Tom Cunneff recounts what he saw Wednesday, including a conversation between Mickelson, Norman and Evert.

Michael Walker hands out awards.


Al Barkow considers Gene Sarazen's double eagle and other all time great Masters shots. So many great memories and so many created by great risk-reward moments.

Golf Course

Gary Van Sickle wonders which course will show up and reminds us of the tweaks and their possible impact. Why am I not getting excited about an extra 7 yards on 1 and 7?

Larry Fine files a Reuters piece titled "No more back nine charges". This one goes around the world. Nothing new here, just noting for the record.

Bill Fields brings up a point that often gets lost. The staged choreography of a tough first three days, then a big change in gear for day four, at which time most players are locked in defensive mode.

Less choreographing early could mean more excitement late, because a tournament's character begins to form well before the television cameras come on in the fourth round. It will be interesting to see if Masters officials are more friendly in setting up the course for the first two days this year in an attempt to restore what people remember and enjoy about the Masters although championship committee chairman Fred Ridley denied there has been a hard-to-easy approach.

David Westin says it all comes down to the weather cooperating.

"I think if you get dry conditions and they set the course up relatively the same every Sunday, guys can go out and make some birdies," Snedeker said. "If the weather's bad, then par is going to be a good score and that's the Masters you're going to have."

Snedeker says course officials "don't miss on anything; they know what they're doing."
One thing the club can't control is the weather.

"It has to cooperate to get those low scores (on Sunday)," Snedeker said.

It might happen this week. The long-range forecast for Sunday calls for a high in the mid-70s and 5 to 15 mph winds out of the east.

So I ask yet again, as we saw with Oakland Hills: does a major now require perfect weather for a design to function? If so, doesn't that say something about the architecture and the setup? I guess we'll see.



The SI guys make their selections as do the staffers (here). They also offer sleeper picks, including Par 3 winner Tim Clark!

Flora, Fauna

Eric Soderstrom cleverly looks at the Twitter craze breaking out in Augusta and in the Cink household.

David Dusek digs up a YouTube video of Vijay Singh skipping in a shot for a 1 at 16 on Wednesday. Granted, it makes the Zapruder film look like a Pixar film, but it's still pretty neat to see and hear the roar.

Alan Bastable on John Daly hawking gear outside ANGC:

Daly declined to chat this morning as he unloaded boxes of hats and shirts and carefully placed them on a table outside his coach bus. But he looked downright trim by his standards, having shed some 40 pounds in recent months.

Bob Smiley posts some Onion-esque headlines with photos!


Golfweek's slide show is here, still minus the music. Must be a victim of the lean times. again has a great and extensive gallery of images from the Par 3 Contest.

And finally, Rob Matre posts a guest piece at Waggle Room on his museum show and the power of Augusta imagery.


"You know what was, is now what is. And that's what everyone can relate to."

Golf Channel has added Jim Gray to its team and if his first appearance Thursday is any indication, we're in for some really profound insights. After comparing Tiger to the many great athletes he's been around, including Mike Tyson (!), Rich Lerner then asked Gray to compare Augusta National with the other great sporting venues Gray has been to.  He was sounding nervous and rattling off clichés before unleashing this head scratcher:

It has withstood the test of time. The faces are very, very similar throughout the course of the years, but they also change, and they've changed with the game, but you know what was, is now what is. And that's what everyone can relate to.

Got that?

Gray also plugged a new Golf Channel show he's on with Lerner. His opening feature is an up close and personal with Donald Trump and his "beautiful" golf courses. Can't wait.


"The Best Short Game Player Ever"

Love the commercials running on Golf Channel touting Phil Mickelson's new short game DVD, with the voiceover announcer declaring that we can learn from the "the best short game player ever."

They're also airing an ad for a Stack and Tilt video with a big endorsement from Aaron Baddelay. 

Tim Rosaforte reported in last week's Golf World that Badds has abandoned the S&T idea and has gone back to his old teacher, Dale Lynch.


Golf Channel Pre-Game Takes On Course Changes..., did anyone else catch the Brandel Chamblee, John Hawkins, Frank Nobilo discussion about the possibilities for excitement at Augusta?

Let's put it this way. They aren't buying Billy Payne's claims about the weather. Nobilo was probably the kindest, focusing on the green speeds, but Hawkins and Chamblee effectively dismantled every assertion that the course has been improved by the changes.

I point this out because, well, many of us suffered through so many years where these chats touted the changes as progress. It's just shocking to hear it going the other way in such extreme fashion. I feel like such a moderate after hearing that exchange!


Payne: "I would be quick to add that this week is an important test."

I caught some of Billy Payne's press conference and have read the transcript now. Frankly, I don't know what to think.

Obviously, he has to defend the club's actions of the last decade to some degree and I respect his political savvy in a most difficult club environment. And blaming the weather for the lack of excitement generally works with some. However, the folks with better memories know that the defensive tone was set a decade ago with the rough and tree planting and the Masters just hasn't been the same since.

Q. Mr. Payne, as you mentioned, we did not see any effort to add length to the course since last year, is Augusta National finally as long as it needs to be?

CHAIRMAN BILLY PAYNE: I won't be Chairman when that decision is ultimately made, I think. We took ten yards off this year.

You know, I think we have it about right. I would be quick to add that this week is an important test. Since the most recent, substantial changes to the course in 2006, we have not had good weather over the weekend. The players have not, in fact, had the opportunity to demonstrate their skills against the competitive test of the course.

It looks like we are going to have some pretty good weather this weekend, and so I think we will continue to look at that. But I think we are going to see some good scores shot this week, and we are going to see the course played as it was designed to be played when those changes were made. I think we are going to be pleased with the results.

So while he defends, he also slips in the caveat about this being an important test. That certainly is encouraging.

Q. With respect to the so‑called new Augusta and the rough, the trees and so forth, the length, how would you categorize the comments you have received from players; complaints, observations or what?

CHAIRMAN BILLY PAYNE: Well, I have not received any directly. (Laughter) I've read about a lot of them.

You know, I would make the analogy that, you know, criticism hurts a little bit, and not as much to me as the entirety of the enterprise, the employees, the staff, the Members.

It's like when you go to a piano recital of one of your granddaughters and you hear somebody say, "Boy, that's the worst kid I've ever seen." It hurts your feelings. (Laughter).

But most of the people I have read that comment from, they are certainly entitled to their opinion. I am hoping that the consequence of good weather and further thinking about the course and the strategic approach to the course through time will eliminate most of that criticism.

You know, we just deal with it until then.

Not such an encouraging answer since most of the criticism has been constructive and made with an admiration for what the Masters means to the game. But then...

Q. Mr. Payne, you said that you had not received any comments from players directly. Would you be open to receiving comments from players directly?

CHAIRMAN BILLY PAYNE: (Smiling) Well, there's not much risk of a direct dialogue, I don't think. I think they have more subtle ways of expressing their opinions, both the favorable ones and the ones that could perhaps be critical.

But I'm aware of them, and I start thinking about them, and, you know, continue to blame the weather. (Laughter).

So after all that, deep down ole Billy knows that blaming the weather is a cop-out? Great, but then there was this..

Q. The groove rule, it's supposed to make driving accuracy relevant again. If that's the case, will it still be necessary to have a first cut, or will you go back to the way the course was originally?

CHAIRMAN BILLY PAYNE: We have no plans to change the first cut, second cut, other than as we tweak it every year, and there are substantial changes every year going back to the 1930s. There's always been some higher grass as you approach the pine straw here, and it's tweaked a little bit every year for Patron viewing, for drainage, for all kinds of course‑related and competitive‑related reasons.

But we don't think that that particular rule will have any impact on our thinking for the future.

So in the same interview, Mr. Payne is open to kid friendly improvements to the telecast and all sorts of grow the game initiatives, yet when the USGA and R&A step up to the plate by pushing through a rule change designed to hopefully make golf re-think the use of rough and narrowing to offset distance, and he doesn't think the rule will have an impact on their thinking?

Very confusing. But mostly, I like the little glimmers of hope in his comments.


2009 Masters Par-3 Contest Live Blog


Previewing The Masters With Huggan

Ryan Ballengee interviews John Huggan from Augusta.


“I’ve got a lot of stuff that I don’t do textbook.”

Perhaps it's a tribute to just how many stars have aligned this week, but after reading Michael Buteau's story on Mid-Am champion Steve Wilson, it's sort of amazing that the Mississippi filling station owner and great quote has been overlooked so far.

At 39, he will be the oldest of the five non-pros competing at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, with Woods and 100 other golfers including Phil Mickelson and Greg Norman.

“I’m not going to look anything like those guys,” said Wilson, co-owner of stations in Gautier, Mississippi, and Theodore, Alabama, on the Gulf Coast. “I’ve got a lot of stuff that I don’t do textbook.”

The professionals will vie for a purse that in 2008 was $7.5 million; this year’s will be disclosed April 12, the match’s last day. While Wilson can’t pocket any money no matter how low he scores, he prepared by playing Augusta 15 times after gaining “honorary member” status with his amateur triumph.

“I’m pretty sure I have worn out my welcome,” the Ocean Springs, Mississippi, resident said.


Wednesday Masters Clippings

Much more fun today from the scribblers who unpacked and got to work filing entertaining stories. Before we get to the goods, don't forget to check in tomorrow at 3EST for the Par-3 Contest Live Blog

Doug Ferguson looks at the dream scenario of a Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson showdown.

They have kept different schedules this week - Mickelson playing early, Woods the late arrival with his most limited practice in his Masters career. They were one group apart Sunday afternoon when both arrived at Augusta and played the front nine.

"Tiger and Phil are out there playing," one of the club members said before adding with a smile, "Not together, obviously."

Golf365 says Tiger turned down Rory McIlroy for a practice round. Or at least, has avoided him in some clever way. 

Lawrence Donegan on Tiger: "Certainly the bookies have few doubts, making Woods 12-5 favourite, while the man himself is wearing an air of confidence that is as bulging as his physique."

Steve Elling also looks at Tiger and a Grand Slam quest, and recounts a funny story from Jack Nicklaus about a congratulatory call he made to Tiger after Torrey Pines.

Tiger posted a new website entry and confirms he will be skipping the Par-3 Contest because it takes too bloody long because he plays early and needs to rest up for round 1.

I will likely skip the par-3 Tournament on Wednesday. I played in it about every year until 2005. You play a practice round in the morning, then sit around for your tee time. It just becomes a long day and takes away from your main preparation. I'm sure there will be a day when I come back and play, especially when Sam and Charlie get a little older and can caddie for me.


Cam Cole in the Vancouver Sun blisters Hootie Johnson's reign over the course, using words like abomination, crime perpetrated and misguided, featuring a couple of interesting player quotes:

“I’m coming to believe this is more like a U.S. Open course every year,” said Steve Stricker. 


“Bland might be too strong a word, but probably it has become a little like that,” 2003 champion Mike Weir, of Bright’s Grove, Ont., said Monday. “I was watching the ’86 Masters (Jack Nicklaus’s sixth win) last night, birdies and eagles flying everywhere, and you know, just the way the course is set up now, mowing patterns and everything, just makes it hard for that to happen.”

Daniel Wexler offers a link to Google Earth's aerial of the course, which is always fun to look at.


The Golfweek staff breaks down the pairings.

U.S. Am Pub Links winner Jack Newman is doing a diary at and talks about why he's going to only stay in the Crow's Nest early in the week.

Drew Kittleson's diary is here, with plenty about his round with Phil Mickelson and Phil's invitation to take Drew and dad to the Champions Locker Room for lunch. And you have to love this:

Dinner Tuesday night was back in the clubhouse. I’m going to eat there as much as possible. I mean, I can have dinner with my dad any time, but I can’t always eat at Augusta National. 


Easily the best material today comes in the Norman stories. While I haven't gotten to John Garrity's lengthy profile of Norman yet, these are also worth a look.

Leonard Shapiro writes:

when Norman steps on the first tee Thursday, an expected sonic boom roar from hundreds all around when his name is announced surely will summon some special memories, and, he keeps saying, none of the old agony.

"I love the tradition and the heritage at Augusta," Normans said. "I love the way the establishment is up there, their rules and their positions and their implementations.

Larry Dorman in the New York Times:

He has been slapped on the back by Tom Watson, welcomed back by Tiger Woods, encouraged by players in the locker room saying, “Hey, play well, play well, play well,” Norman said.

“I know in the ’80s, they were not coming up to me and saying, ‘Hey, Greg, play well.’ That’s for sure.”

Melanie Hauser on Team Norman clicking on all cylinders

This potential last moment in Augusta’s setting sun is a family affair. Yes, the focus is on the man who people love here for what hasn’t happened, but he’s made this about Gregory and Chrissie too. They’re a team, going everywhere as a trio, except for a dinner with President George H.W. Bush and wife Barbara. Gregory wasn’t invited.

Here is Norman's interview from Tuesday, with both video and transcript options.

The other interviews, including Ogilvy, Harrington, Ishikawa, Immelman, Lee, Villegas, Woods and Mickelson can be viewed here.


Jim McCabe considers Lee's retro move to hire local caddy Matt Fuzy along with the history of players using club loopers.

Steve Keating profiles Lee, who is proud to be staying the Crow's Nest, "sleeping where Tiger slept."


The Internet Writer Of The Year selects his favorite Masters. 

Steve Elling offers his Up and Down thoughts on a bit of everything, including one about the Internet Writer Of The Year

The official site includes Tuesday notes, topped off by this one:

For more than 40 years, two-time Masters Champion Ben Crenshaw has carried the nickname, ‘Gentle Ben,’ thanks to Austin, Texas sportswriter Dick Collins. Tuesday at Augusta National, it was time for Crenshaw to pay him back.

Crenshaw provided Collins, now retired, tickets for the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays practice rounds, giving Collins his first-ever look at Augusta National Golf Club.

“All those years, the newspaper would never send me,” said Collins. “Even when Ben and Tom (Kite) were winning, they didn’t let me go anywhere. Ben provided me tickets this year to see it for the first time. It’s wonderful.” 

Peter Bills on Peter Alliss covering the Masters for BBC:

“I never made the cut at Augusta and soon came to the same conclusion as the others, it was too expensive to come over here. It used to take about three days to get here in those days”.

He smiled. “How things have changed, eh; there wouldn't be many modern day players who would turn down an invitation.”

Somehow, it would be hard to imagine a Masters at Augusta National without the avuncular Alliss' dulcet tones, and delightful commentaries. Listening to him again this week will be a major highlight for television viewers around the world.


Mike Vitti's PGA Tour power rankings with one sleeper pick who is getting no ink so far, Nick Watney.

Golfweek offers "sleeper" picks and a really annoying Nike ad, so turn down your volume if you are at the office.

The Sand Trap offers their picks with winning scores.



Jim Huber wonders out loud how the Augusta National grounds crew gets the azaleas to bloom right on time.

Doug Ferguson on the mystique, history and rules surrounding the green jacket.

Immelman was playing in Asia last year when he landed in Japan. He carried the green jacket in a suit bag, but it wasn't long before some golf fans recognized him, and realized what was in the bag. He said they began to cry.

"The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the mystique that goes along, and the history that goes along with Augusta National is just something that not many sports have," he said. "That was a cool feeling, and something nice to be part of."

Asher Wildman takes us on a video tour of the inexpensive and tasty food at Augusta.

And finally, the Augusta Chronicle's extensive photo gallery is great fun.


Masters Photo Caption Fun, Vol. 2

Supposedly that is is Bubba Watson shaking hands with Tiger Woods. Not a Spackler impersonator. The image was captured by Kendrick Brinson and is posted on the gallery:


Masters Photo Caption Fun, Vol. 1

I don't know why this strikes me as caption material. Maybe it's that The King's driving looks a wee bit maniacal as he drives former USGA President Buzz Taylor around the course? Or am I over-analyzing? From AP, via's gallery:


Phil: "I feel like the changes have been for the most part very positive"

Phil Mickelson on the eve of the Masters, now says he thinks the changes to Augusta National have been positive "for the most part."

Q. Are you in the camp that believes that the changes made in the golf course eliminated a Sunday charge or made it more difficult given extreme weather conditions?

PHIL MICKELSON: The weather the last two years has made the golf course play much more difficult than previous years. And it's very hard to mount a charge when it's cold and windy.
But I don't think that was due to the changes in the course. I think it was more due to the conditions that we were facing. Now, though, there are more options in case we get the same kind of weather, but the forecast is to be warm and sunny. In that case, the course will play, I don't want to say short, but it will play much shorter than we saw the last couple of years, and we will see some reasonably low scoring, I believe.

When I played here a couple of weeks ago when it was warm, 75 degrees, I was able to hit the same clubs into the par 4s and par 5s that I did back in the early 90s. So I feel like the changes have been for the most part very positive.

He's made comments contrary to that elsewhere, including in this George Willis piece about bringing back the roars. Maybe he's (understandably) gone into Norman Vincent Peale mode, or maybe that Augusta member sitting next to him can hit a button and have little electrodes zap the interviewee:

"After the changes a few years ago, we don't see the same type of excitement and birdies that we're used to seeing," said Phil Mickelson, who made five birdies on the final seven holes to shoot 31 on the back nine and defeat Ernie Els in 2004.


Tiger: "It's funner in a different way."

A few highlights from Tiger's press conference at Augusta today. This sounded like Tod Leonard asking the question, but I'm not sure:

Q. Given the changes to the course, is it not as fun to play the course as it was before to go after birdies and to go after things more? Is it just not the same experience?

TIGER WOODS: Well, it's certainly not the same experience, no. It's funner in a different way. You know, when I first played here, good drives would leave you short irons. Balls, you could hit tee shots that were pretty far off-line, but you did it on purpose. I remember Raymond telling me to hit the ball as far right as you possibly can at 9 so you can fire at the green. Now you have to hug the trees because there's no stand of trees down the right-hand side.

The golf course has changed quite a bit. You know, your strategy has changed. You don't go out there looking to shoot super-low rounds because they are not out there anymore, especially with these conditions that we have the last two years. If it calms down, and I'm sure you can probably shoot one of those good numbers, but there's going to be a different way of doing it.

You know, the golf course is just -- we didn't have rough when I first came here. They used to cut the fairways downgrain, and now they cut it into the grain, and then they went half and half. Inside the doglegs were all downgrain so it forced you to try to hug the corner to get more distance out of it and if you bailed out you would be paying the price of getting the ball to the green. Over the years, the course has changed, but it's just a different score.

This was interesting...

Q. When is the last time you watched the final round of '97, and what were your thoughts going through?

TIGER WOODS: Last time I watched it, I think probably around my birthday this year. I think the GOLF CHANNEL had some kind of birthday week or, I don't know, birthday day, something like that. It was on there. It was kind of funny to obviously watch my swing then versus now.
But the coolest thing in the world is obviously seeing my dad there, which I don't have that anymore. So every time I see that, I get a little weak thinking about that moment, because it was a very important moment in my life to have him there, because obviously everyone knows the story, him having a heart attack the year before and him having the heart surgery and the doctor telling him not to go. But he came and gave me a putting lesson, and I putted well that week.

Q. Is that like a great movie where you stop when you're flipping through?
TIGER WOODS: Sometimes. Sometimes I look back on it thinking, I wish I could swing that hard again. (Laughter).

And this, following up on some questions about his time off.

Q. Did you take stock in your future in golf, and how much time you have left?

TIGER WOODS: No. No, I didn't look at it that way, no. I just looked at the fact that it would have been nice to be able to actually make a swing like those guys were making at the time.
At the time I was on the couch elevated with ice.

And this got the biggest laugh out of Tiger I've ever seen:

Q. This is for Rob. How is it you always seem to draw the interview with Tiger?

ROB JOHNSTON: I cannot comment on Club policy. (Laughter).


Tee Times Released


Immelman Reveals Champions Dinner Plans; Kitchen Prepares For Onslaught Of Regular Menu Orders

If I'm a former winner, once I see curry flavored, I'm heading to the regular menu until the dessert, which sounds good. Scott Michaux reports. No word yet on whether the service will reflect Trevor Immelman's preferred pace of play.


What NOT To Bring To The Masters

From the News 12 Augusta website:

April 07, 2008

Cell Phones, Cameras and Electronic Devices

Cell phones, beepers and other electronic devices are strictly prohibited on the grounds at all times. Cameras are strictly prohibited on Tournament days. Violation of these policies will subject the ticket holder to removal from the grounds and the ticket purchaser to the permanent loss of credential(s).

Prohibited Items:

* Cell Phones
* Bags, Backpacks, Purses, Packages*
* Beepers/Electronic Devices
* Cameras**
* Weapons of any kind (regardless of permit)

I know it's way easy to make a joke about the South or 2nd Amendment rights here, so I'll just say I'm glad they clarified the permit issue.


"Why can't golf's ruling bodies just agree that slow play has got completely out of hand and start penalising the players?"

While everyone is caught up in the lack of excitement brought on by the course changes, Mark Reason reminds us (with ire) of another symptom brought on by Augusta National's new defensive design: slow play. He reminds us that there hasn't been a slow play penalty in a major since the 2004 PGA and wonders why there is so little concern about the leaders taking 5 hours and 10 minutes in last year's final round.

Immelman was and is scandalously slow. Rumour has it that one timing official turned to his colleague and said: "Either this man is dead or my watch has stopped." But we are now 12 months on from Immelman's funeral march and still nothing is done.

To paraphrase Jenkins: nothing that a good ole Monday finish won't fix.


Tuesday Clippings: Tiger Dodges Bubba By Playing Late

Doug Ferguson files several fun notes, including this one related to Tiger's late practice session.

Bubba Watson was among the first to go off, no doubt looking for Woods to join some elite company. By midmorning, photographers were on the prowl and fans began to murmur, ``Has anyone seen Tiger.''

Poor Bubba.

James Corrigan focuses on the teens and Rory McIlroy in particular, considering his chances at his inaugural Masters.

Larry Dorman analyzes how Padraig Harrington has eluded the spotlight in pursuit of his third straight major.

Mike Aitken talks to Monty about the European players and why Paul Casey has so much potential to win at Augusta, highlighted by his high ball flight.

Jerry Potter files the latest story on the downturn in entertainment spending outside the gates.

The press conferences were dull outside of Gary Player announcing his retirement. Jim McCabe celebrates Player's incredible run. As for the press conference transcripts...

Gary Player is here.

Rory McIlroy is here.

And inexplicably, Anthony Kim was called in to the media center and his chat is here.

Monday saw more piling on when it comes to bashing the course changes. Gosh, I remember the good ole days when writers cared about getting drawn in the Monday lottery.

In this Golfweek Q&A, Paul Goydos doesn't hold back.

What’s one thing you would change about the Masters if you could?

Goydos: I’d bring the fun back in it. The golf course has gotten too long and it’s lost all of it’s fun. I can’t reach any of the par-5s in two, so it’s turned into a battle of attrition. They have to get it back to this battle of wits, but now it’s more like a U.S. Open. Like I said, if you’ve got a two-shot lead going into the back nine and you shoot even par, you’re going to win the tournament. That needs to go away.

Bob Harig (here) and Daniel Wexler (here) both review the many changes and crunch some numbers, while Steve Elling focuses on the peculiarity of any weather hiccup throwing the entire course into chaos, all because they have so few options to move tees.

Immelman points out that he was 11 under after 54 holes, right in line with scoring in previous years, before the weather turned foul in the final round with winds gusting in excess of 30 mph.

"When you're playing a golf course like Augusta National, the beauty of Augusta National, its defense is that you really need to be accurate and you need to really control the distance and the trajectory of your golf ball," Immelman said. "When that's a golf course's defense, then a 30-mile-an-hour wind is thrown into the equation, it becomes extremely difficult for golfers."

That's exactly the point. The course is so punitive that weather wrinkles can make it unendurable. The design limitations make it difficult to counteract Mother Nature and the numbers speak for themselves: Nobody has shot four rounds under par since Woods in 2002. The last real final-round gun battle took place between Els and Phil Mickelson in 2004, a week in which 30 eagles and three aces -- two in successive groups on Sunday -- were recorded.
Seems a distant memory, really.

"What's the problem with 12 under winning the Masters?" Faldo asked. "There really isn't one."

And finally, Golfweek offers a few photos from Monday's practice, minus the copyright free music. It's only Monday though.