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  • Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
  • The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Art of Golf Design
    The Art of Golf Design
    by Michael Miller, Geoff Shackelford
  • Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Golden Age of Golf Design
    The Golden Age of Golf Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
  • The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    by Geoff Shackelford
Current Reading
  • The Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game
    The Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game
    by Chris Millard
  • The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    by Dan Washburn
  • The Early Days of Pinehurst
    The Early Days of Pinehurst
    by Chris Buie
  • Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    by Bill Fields
  • The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    by Gil Capps
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir
    by Dan Jenkins
Classics
  • Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    by Geo. C. Thomas
  • The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    Treewolf Prod
  • Reminiscences Of The Links
    Reminiscences Of The Links
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast, Richard C. Wolffe, Robert S. Trebus, Stuart F. Wolffe
  • Gleanings from the Wayside
    Gleanings from the Wayside
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast
  • Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    by Darius Oliver
  • Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    by Darius Oliver
Writing And Videos

The greater the experience I have of designing golf courses, the more certain I am that blindness of all kinds should be avoided. ALISTER MACKENZIE

 

    

Saturday
Apr072007

Sunday's Masters Clippings

masterslogo.gifWell isn't this going to be fun exciting something to see!

I am jealous of all the writers who might get to be there for the historic, first ever slow play-influenced Monday finish. Kamille Bostick reports on the chilly weather and the forecast for tomorrow. That first tee time is set for 9:35. According to weather.com, the temp at 9 am is supposed to be just 30 degrees. And the last group is going out 45 minutes earlier tomorrow, hope that's enough time!  Also note the Singh-Singh pairing.

For those of you participating as patrons, Masters.org has posted a warning that gate openings may be delayed.

For you stat junkies, the course numbers for four rounds are here, and the round 3 tally came in at 77.305.

And note 8 eagles so far. The tournament all time low is 12.

Damon Hack's game story in the New York Times.

Thomas Bonk reports that Fuzzy called the place "a morgue" and Tommy dares to mention the possibility that the tepid pace of play could result in a Monday finish.

Matthew Rudy at GolfDigest puts Hootie Johnson and Tom Fazio under the "winners" header for day 3, but I'm not sure if this is winning:

If you enjoy watching the game’s best perform at the highest level, golf was set back 50 years today. Actually, more like 80—the leading score after three rounds, 2-over, was the highest in the history of the tournament, and they've been playing golf in these parts since 1934. Second-round leader Tim Clark shot 80 and was still on the first page of the leaderboard. If you like watching players get embarrassed, it was probably a two-bags-of-chips day. Stuart Appleby said after his round that it was pure luck if you picked the right club for your approach shot. That’s just what you want to hear at the pinnacle of the sport, right? Since that randomness clearly seems to be the case, why not just have the guys shoot dice in the locker room for the trophy and save us the trouble of having to watch? Paper, rock, scissors, maybe. Tiger’s probably good at that too, though.

Paul Forsyth in the Sunday Times shares this from Henrik Stenson:

“They are trying to make it harder every year,” he said. “I have only been here twice, but they seem to be taking out the good slopes, the ones that can help the players, and putting more awkward ones in. It is on the edge of being ridiculous, if it’s not ridiculous already.”

That's our Faz!

AP's Tim Dahlberg says:

Believe it or not, they actually moved some tees up and watered the greens in a last-minute but ultimately futile effort not to make things any more embarrassing than they already were.

They held a Masters, and a U.S. Open broke out.

"It was like trying to land a golf ball on your driveway, but your driveway has mounds on them and they stick the pin near the mounds," Rich Beem said.

John Eisenberg in the Baltimore Sun isn't a fan of the new look either.

Tod Leonard explains the rules infraction that Phil Mickelson was accused of by a TV viewer. Competition committee head Fred Ridley cleared him of any wrongdoing.

Leonard notes that Ridley "was not made available for comment."

Hey, it's only the defending champion we're talking about. Why would you have to comment on that? Though somehow I think Will Nicholson would gladly have answered questions on this topic or any other. Could it be that Ridley did not want to answer questions about the course setup? The USGA jet?

An unbylined Scotland On Sunday commentary blasts the "mundane slog" that the Masters has become.

Jose Ramone on Sandy Lyle's 5 putt.

Finally, Tom English reports the breaking news that Tom Watson feels Tiger is the best golfer of all time. You know these Stanford types, always biased.

Saturday
Apr072007

Masters Photo Caption Fun, Vol. 3

Hard to have much fun with these proceedings, but still, this calls for some further explanation (courtesy of golf.com):

apr7_shingo_600x600.jpg 

Saturday
Apr072007

Appleby's Third Round Press Conference

Someone likes the setup:

 Q. We had gasps in this room today as we were watching what this course is doing; how would you characterize what the course is doing to the best golfers in the world?

STUART APPLEBY: Well, it's set up right on the safe limit of tournament play. The officials here really know where the pins need to be, they know what the winds are; they are not doing anything silly.

The only really difficult hole from a sense of being too difficult was 14 yesterday, was just impossible to find a shot in your bag. But today, you knew where the danger was, you knew where you needed to play. The greens were consistent. That's what is so good about this place, it just -- it's not funky by any means. It's just a real, real test.

It's a joy to play, finally, I know what I'm doing here, but the whole factor is actually doing it is another game again?

Saturday
Apr072007

Tiger's Third Round Press Conference

I think this is a vital point not about the setup, but the removal of width. Tiger Woods after round 3:

TIGER WOODS: It was a tough day with the wind gusts. You hit quality shots and just get absolutely hosed. That's just the way it is here. Hopefully you get committed to hit the proper shot and get lucky at the same time with the wind.

Does anyone else get the sense watching in the strong winds today that if the original width was in place, that players could attack tee shots and hole locations a bit more with the freedom to place the ball in more exotic locales? 

I don't think that would entirely offset the point Woods is making, but it sure seems the original width would have helped in today's winds. 

The new tee construction, which has traditionally included the removal of the old tee, has also eliminated flexiblity for the committee in conditions like today. Not that they would probably use it if offered... 

Saturday
Apr072007

Howell's Third Round Press Conference

Augusta native Charles Howell:

Q. Regarding the rough.

CHARLES HOWELL, III: The rough actually kind of helps keep the ball in play, so I don't mind it. I just felt that par was a helluva score today. You know the tapes we have all seen of guys shooting 30 on the back nine? I don't think you're going to see that tape this year. I wish the par-5 on 13 and 15 were playing differently. It would make it more exciting, but they are playing straight into the wind.

Saturday
Apr072007

Mickelson On Saturday's Conditions

At +6, suddenly very much in it... 

Q. The conditions.

PHIL MICKELSON: Tough as I've seen. It wasn't as hard as it could have been because they put water on the greens. Think it's not impossible. I will try to gather a game plan tonight. It's tough to be aggressive at all with these conditions. You have to be patient. It was a fair challenge.
As tough as it is, I didn't think it was unfair by any means. It's a challenge to make pars. You have to fight on every hole to make par here.

I don't feel like it's unrealistic, I've seen people come from seven shots back. It was a very good round for me. I played pretty well and fought hard to make a lot of pars. Obviously I needed to shoot under par to really put myself in contention. I fought hard enough to where at least I have a chance. I was looking at the leaderboard to get a game plan and what I have to do tomorrow. Only two people are under par. Tomorrow, I feel like I have to shoot in the 60s to have a chance. I think I have to make 14 pars and four birdies. That's kind of the game plan.

There are four birdie holes, but you are limited on those birdie chances. Certainly I need to get closer to even, but over par will win the tournament.

Saturday
Apr072007

Masters Saturday Live Blog

masterslogo.gif12:30 - Here we go, CBS is on the air and Phil Mickelson is making a move according to Jim Nantz. He's even par! Wow, who would have thought level would constitute moving up the board at Augusta.

12:38: We see Mickelson hitting into 13 from 220. What's with the cart trails all over the fairway?

12:39 - The Butler Cabin fireplace is looking better each day! Someone's been scrubbing since Thursday when it was noted here that the mantle was a tad seared.

12:46 - Wetterich nearly chips in from behind No. 3 green and now it's headed down the hill in front of the green. Oh this is going to get ugly.

1:00 - Just to give an idea how brutal the wind is: the par-5 8th hole is averaging over par and it's the third easiest hole!

1:11 - Was there a cart race out there this morning? Every fairway has cart tire streaks on every hole?

1:12 - Tiger looks steady over the 7 footers, making his second in a row before heading to 12 tee. So what time is he leading this by?

1:19 - As tough as things look, someone at GolfDigest.com notes that Nick Seitz has written about an even tougher Masters day when no one broke par.

1:20 - Stenson eagles 13, lifts his arms up sarcastically and Peter Kostis says it's the first eagle there since Thursday morning.

1:22 - Tiger bogies 12, which, frankly, looks like a good score in this wind. Then drops a big loogey on the green. But hey it's not in the cup!

1:25 - The 3rd round scoring average is now at 77.05!

1:29 - Ah fun. Tiger's trying to decide whether to go for 13 in two. Stevie is shaking his head. Kostis says 248 to the hole, 213 to the front. The lie looks awful. It's into the wind. He's laying up. Wonder if he goes for it with short grass under his ball? Ouch, the layup goes right at the patrons.

Kostis says something really, really good: "There used to be a bunch of different ways to route your ball around this golf course and I would say 20 or 30% are gone now due to the second cut and the trees that have been planted. And this is one of those situations."

1:35 - Tiger sticks wedge on 13. Kostis says "how good is that?" Scary good on that downhill lie. I say he's leading by 5:04 EST.

1:40 - The wind chill is up to 47 degrees! Fun!

1:55 - Mickelson nearly holes his approach on 18 but +6 is pretty far back...so far!

2:10 - Jerry Kelly moves to even par, as Tiger stalks his super long eagle putt on 15. And yes, I'm awake again.

2:14 - Phil says some water was put on the greens, helping out early in the round. "It's tough to be aggressive today." And he says he "knows" the winning score will be over par.

2:20 - Appleby lays up on 13 after waiting for the leaf blower gang to clean up No. 13. Kostis says it's getting really cold, but Jerry Kelly's still in short sleeves.

2:22 - Just looking at the tee times and it looks like the rounds are taking about 4:40. Hey but the scoring average is down below 77 again!

2:25 - Appleby hits a beautiful little low burning wedge into 13 that gets up to the top tier, then rolls back, only reminding us how amazing Tiger's shot was.

2:29 - Jerry Kelly putts just off 10 green, but at least the wind is dying down. He three putts to go to even par, so now it's just Appleby under par.

2:34 - Justin Rose birdies 12 to go -1 on Amen Corner for the week. All pars to this point.

2:35 - Tiger tries a wacky cut out of the trees on 17 and as Faldo notes, why because he leaves himself on the "top side" of that green. Faldo says it looks like one of Seve's old finishes when he knew he'd hit it left.

2:40 - Tiger stares at his bunker shot for an eternity on 17, finally hits. Are the bunkers furrowed? Some of those rake lines look seriously wide. He falls to +2 and some of his mid-round momentum seems lost.

2:42 - Vijay knocks it in the water on 12. Well, at least he can smell the flowers from 12 green to 13 tee.

2:44 - CBS shows Geoff Ogilvy's eagle on 13. Interestingly, according to the scoreboard, he's through 14 holes now, and has teed off on 15. A little behind! 

2:49 - Ogilvy dumps two in the water on 15. Damn.  I almost wonder if today's hole is impossible to get close to with any shot there? Oh wait, Appleby hits an incredible shot to within 10 feet from the left side of the fairway.

2:52 - Wow, Tiger flubs his approach to 18 from 154 yards. Perhaps even he is human and worn out by the grueling conditions? Na, the wind is back. He does not get up and down, finishes +3, still in great position.

3:02 - Tiger is interviewed by Bill Macatee. Not in a good mood.  

3:09 - With the final group on pace for a round just under 5 hours, will CBS stay on until the completion of play? I still don't understand why they sent them off at 3 based on the pace the first two days as well as the forecast. 

3:16 - Rose lays up on 15 with a hybrid. The half full grandstand patrons are rivetted! Seriously, where have all the fans gone?

3:24 - Appleby is in the front bunker on 7...for his 17th hole tee shot. Wow. You could see it hit the face of that super steep bunker. And did he hurt his wrist? Or is it just so bloody cold that it hurts that much. Option 2.

3:28 - Justin Rose birdies 15 to go to +1.  

3:29 - Vijay's shielding the wind with his umbrella. Tiger's in his wind pants according to Nantz. Oh joy! 

3:30 - Verne Lundquist says it's suddenly become calm on 16 for the first time today. Is that in reference to the two empty grandstands?  Wow, never seen that on a Saturday.

3:32: Appleby triples 17. We get one of our rare worm cam shots. Sheesh those greens are wickedly fast. He moves to +2 and Justin Rose is your new leader. Oh and CBS says the highest 54-hole score ever was even par by Nicklaus and Jacobs in 1966.  

3:39 - And now Vaughn Taylor is leading. Oh yeah, CBS has to stay on until the completion of play!  Zach Johnson nails a difficult downhill slider on 15 for birdie, while Vijay salvages what could have been a disaster to stay at +5!  And they all are having so much fun!

3:51 - I've given up trying to track the antics on 17. It's clear that the green remains the hole's greatest defense and the trees need to go.  

4:13 - Yes, I've officially lost interest. Need to regroup over a hot meal because it's very cold here in Santa Monica today. Didn't reach 65! Ugh. Until tomorrow... 

Saturday
Apr072007

A Few More Saturday Masters Clippings**

masterslogo.gifThanks to reader Tim for Thomas Boswell's rant about the lack of theatrics, which included this quote from Tiger that I didn't see anywhere else**:

Be aggressive? Here? On this golf course? Not in these conditions," Tiger Woods said Friday after his 73-74 -- 147 total left him just five shots behind co-leaders Brett Wetterich and Tim Clark at a humble, uninspiring 2 under par. "No, you just plod along. Try to put the ball in the right spot if you can. If you can't, somehow just don't have any wrecks out there."
Scott Michaux says we need to see another 36-holes before writing this off as a new look-U.S. Open style event. Oh I don't know Scott. The weather forecast was lousy for the weekend starting about Tuesday. The first 36 probably should have been a touch kinder with that forecast looming. They might have also played in 5 hours instead of 5:30!

 

Henrik Stenson is not a fan based on these comments as reported by Herb Gould in the Chicago Sun-Times (thanks to Hawkeye for spotting them).

'The course is ridiculous,'' he told the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet. ''It feels like I'm walking around for five hours and someone is whipping me on the back. The only way to have fun on Augusta National is to play with your buddies and have a few beers.''


1875843_200.jpgAnd David Westin takes us inside the clubhouse for a tour of the club's amazing memorabilia collection.

Saturday
Apr072007

Q&A With Jim Nantz

My Q&A is now posted on Golfobserver.com.

Friday
Apr062007

Saturday's Masters Clippings

masterslogo.gifWhat's great about day like Friday at Augusta? It separates the men from the boys.

I'm talking about the writers.

It's fun to see who really appreciates the nuance and quality of golf versus those who seem to merely enjoy watching players struggle.

But before that discussion, let's get the meat and potatoes stuff out of the way.  

Joe Saraceno pens a nice USA Today column on Brett Wetterich. While Reuters' Mark Lamport Stokes writes about the other gent in the final pairing, Tim Clark.

By the way, the last pairing goes off at 3. Think the twosomes can play 90 minutes faster tomorrow and finish by 7 EST? Especially with this weather forecast.

Scott Michaux talks to Dr. Ed Bailey who has been to every Masters and was on 17 when Gene Sarazen hit the shot heard round the world. He turned to see the reaction of Sarazen over on 15. Of course today, his view would be blocked out by the recently planted pines.

Lawrence Donegan has the best line of the day in his Guardian lede:  "As sporting drama goes, this was a bit like Laurence Olivier being acted off the stage by the grave diggers." And:

There is no disguising the fact that radical changes to Augusta in recent times, coupled with the bone hard conditions of this week, have turned Alister Mackenzie's ageless masterpiece into a brute . Some, like Woods, used diplomatic language when asked for their opinions ("It's a totally different course...[with ] about 500 extra yards, a billion trees and rough ")

James Corrigan featured this epic quote from Lee Westwood:

"Do I like this place? Not really, not any more," said the Englishman, who had just been desperately trying to make up for his first-round 79. "It just asks too many questions that there are no answers to. It used to be a shotmaker's course but now I don't think it is. When it was shorter, more of us would have had an answer, but now there are only six or seven people in the field that can win. It's not the type of golf I want to play." play."

Unfortunately that kind of "attitude" sets off some writers, and Golf Digest's Ron Sirak represents the "they all have to play it" set with this head scratcher.

The thing to remember about Augusta National is that they can make this golf course really difficult without tricking it up. First off, it is an architectural masterpiece -- no matter what you think of the renovations over the past five years. The fairways are seductively wide and the greens are misleading large. The fact is there is only about a third of the fairway on each hole you want to use, and only about a quarter of each green. As Nick Faldo said back when he was winning three green jackets, "There is a route around this place. You just have to find it and follow it."

Uhm, but the see that's the problem. That was true back when Faldo was winning those jackets. The routes have since been closed off with trees and rough.

The point is this: No matter what the conditions, quit whining and adapt to them. Everyone is playing the same course. What could be more fair than that?

Well, everyone had to sit through the same Oscar ceremony to find out who won. That didn't make it a good show.philD2_06_600x600.jpg

And I know I'm not supposed to pick on my elders, but Furman Bisher files one of those pieces that I'm sad to say reminds you that he never had to play skilled golf in front of millions on a tricked-up course:

These are changing times at Augusta National, beyond the invigorated presence of Billy Payne. The man who sets up the course is straight out of the USGA mold. Fred Ridley, former U.S. amateur champion, former USGA president, is in his first year as chairman of the Competition Committee, previously occupied by Will Nicholson, who retired. This is Ridley’s first show, and maybe it’s a spinoff of the old USGA policy: “Give ‘em hell.”

It’s OK with the rest of us. Not that we like to see grown men suffer, but it does endear these old acres to us to see them sweat and cuss, and come off the course looking as if they have just seen a UFO.

Yeah, real enduring.

I missed Chip Alexander in the News Observer talking to Tom Fazio yesterday:

Golf architect Tom Fazio, who oversaw the redesign of the course, noted there has been no rain this week -- a rarity the past 10 years, when there often have been storms and rain delays. Augusta National, he said, again was the golf test that Masters founder Bobby Jones intended it to be, with a premium on ball placement off the tee, wise club selection and sound course management.

"Everyone certainly was hoping to see it this way," Fazio said. "It's like a new golf course, because of the speed.

"It's a major. It's a major major."

Profound.

Thanks to reader Graeme for this Robert Lusetich piece in The Australian, which sums up the plight at hand:

For veterans of this rite of the northern spring, yesterday was different because it lacked the echoing roars of the galleries celebrating birdies.

"Strangely quiet," said Howell.

Whether they return will be in the hands of the ultimate authority here, first-year Masters chairman Billy Payne, who has to decide what kind of history he wants to make.

Also critical, Erik Barzewski at The Sand Trap and Pete McDaniel at GolfDigest.com. And I suspect more to come if the setup does not try to accomodate interesting, fun and exciting golf.

Meanwhile Lorne Rubenstein gets more specific and criticizes the 15th hole's lack of drama.

Much of the confusion is gone because the hole was lengthened last year to 530 yards from 500. Too many players lay up now, which accounts for the much quieter environment among spectators in the area. They, and the golfers, used to hold their collective breath while a ball was in the air. What was its fate? The hole has almost turned into a par-3 because the tee shot and the lay-up have become routine. The third shot matters the most now, not the second.
Friday
Apr062007

Rosaforte Proves He's Man Of The People By Remembering Clubhouse Waiter's Name

If only Darwin had covered Augusta, we might have already reveled in the type of poetry only Tim Rosaforte can deliver:

I flew in direct from Palm Beach, arriving in time for breakfast in the Trophy Room. It gave me a chance to look out onto the veranda and watch the patrons take their positions and await the practice rounds. James was my waiter and the bacon as crisp as it was last year.

 

Friday
Apr062007

"It was all defense today."

After round 2:

TOM WATSON: It was all defense today. I let them kick a field goal and let them run all the way back for a touchdown. You have to play defense on this golf course.

I'm not sure about the field goal metaphor, but the defense part makes sense. 

Friday
Apr062007

"This is what we've been looking for," Fazio said.

Ed Hardin looks at Tom Fazio's changes to Augusta National in light of this year's setup and shares two very revealing quotes.

First, from Ben Crenshaw:

"You feel like the course is going to get you somewhere," the two-time champion said. "It doesn't matter who you are."
Translation: way too much chance is involved. The course is playing the players, instead of the players playing the course (with apologies to Walter Hagen).

But this is just sad: 
Above it all, standing near the spreading live oak atop the grand course, Tom Fazio had a gleam in his eye.

"This is what we've been looking for," Fazio said.

And there you have precisely why I have no respect for Tom Fazio as an architect. We have a tournament where the focus is on him, the committee, the setup and the changes, not the players and the joy of the patrons.

It's all about him.

And we know the great architects do not want it to be about them. They want it to be about the players and in the case of Augusta, a celebration of the game. That's what Bobby Jones and Alister MacKenzie were all about. That's why they're still revered, and why Tom Fazio's place in the game will not looked upon kindly. 

Friday
Apr062007

Did Tiger Hurt Himself?

From golf.com, an image taken after Tiger's miraculous (or maybe not) swing stop on 13 tee.

After the round, he insisted there were no problems even though the rest of mortals would have broken some bone.

Q. What happened with the swing --
TIGER WOODS: Still trying to figure that out. Birds flew right over me, stopped it somehow, I felt like I broke my back, my wrist, my neck, any legs. I don't know how those baseball players do it, that check-swing, I don't know how they do it, but I tried to check it and did somehow, and I felt like the shaft was going to snap because the head passed forward, I was trying to stop it so hard.

Q. Have you ever had that happen before where you've had a bird?
TIGER WOODS: Not on a bird, but I've stopped it like that before, yeah.

Q. How do you feel right now?
TIGER WOODS: I feel great now.

Q. No repercussions?
TIGER WOODS: No. I'm not old yet. 

apr6_woodshand_600x600.jpg 

Friday
Apr062007

Friday Masters Live Blog

masterslogo.gifOkay here we go. Only one scoop of protein powder in the smoothie today, so I should manage to stave off a nap. No guarantees though, my Barcalounger is pretty comfortable.

One thing to look out for: first announcer to declare the brilliance behind the lousy changes because so many forgettable short knockers like Tim Clark are in contention.

1:02 - Whoa have we got a great start here! Get Fred Ridley in the press center now. Tiger is shown checking up on 13 tee and we don't need the first base umpire to tell us that, Ladies and Gentleman, was very close to a stroke/whiff. I understand the Rules say the player simply has to hold up before reaching the ball but that one was close. Rules junkies weigh in please.  *[A reader reports that if he altered the path of the club to avoid hitting it, not a stroke.]

1:09 - Phil hit a monster lob on 7 from the fringe to avoid the back bunker. That took courage.  So did wearing that lime green shirt. He looks like Shrek.

1:17 - Gee, I thought these Phil and Amy Exxon-Mobil ads were going to be a one year deal. You can only tug at my heart strings so much.

1:20 - Five way tie at the top: Clark, Stenson, Wetterich, Johnson and Rose. Couldn't script it any worse than that.

1:22 - We have a possible winner!!! Peter Kostis (who else?) chimed in with the first short hitter reference. "I'm intrigued. With all the talk of the power hitters playing here...we've got Zack Johnson, Tim Clark, Jerry Kelly, Vaughn Taylor, not long hitters, all on the leaderboard."  I don't think the CBS execs in New York are too intrigued.

1:28 - Ogilvy makes tap-in (!) for birdie on 9, pulls to within 2 after a 33. His gold shoes look like a pair from Liberace's estate sale. 

1:30 - Zack Johnson lays up, birdies 13 to go to -3. You can almost feel the pandemonium if he could hold on to win. Almost. 

1:43 - Tim Clark comes up short on his 18th hole approach, and just think it's only taken him 5 hours and 15 minutes to get here. 

1:48 - Shrek makes a nice two-putt for par on 9, out in 38 and hovering near the cut line.  

1:55 - Vaughn Taylor moves to -2, making him low native. Power lips a chip on 16 that would have made him -3.

2:07 - Newsflash from the city! I think the Butler Cabin fireplace mantle has been scraped clean of some of the build-up that was noted on this blog yesterday. Nice to know someone's reading! Hey, if you want to get rid of the rest of that build up by Sunday, might I suggest you follow this link.

2:12 - Ian Baker Finch calls it The Hogan Bridge. Not Bobby Clampett's tacky Disneyesque "Hogan's Bridge."  

2:16 - Gentle Ben bogies the last three but still looks good for the weekend, adding to the list of former champions playing surprisingly well (Lyle, Watson, Zoeller).

2:22 - Shrek's playing pinball wizard left of 11. Hey, but at least they've cleaned up those piles for removal. Now they're just disposing Phil over there. Meanwhile now he wants a ruling. Where's Will Nicholson when you need him. Where's an ice storm when you need it? Oh and if that's not bad enough, the wind is howling at Amen Corner.

2:34 - Shrek salvages bogey on 11 with a stellar up and down from short of the green. Taking him to +7.  

2:47 - Oh the ad wizards for IBM have come up with an ad featuring to men lugging a massive portrait of Bobby Jones across the third fairway. So glad the club agreed to that. Classy.

3:02 - Stuart Appleby makes his 7th birdie of the day. Thankfully Peter Oosterhuis was there to announce it. One of the non-players would have inevitably told us that see, birdies are out there. 

3:06 - Shrek makes birdie on 13 to go to +6. Watson triples 18 and misses cut. I feel like I'm watching a funeral. 

3:14 - David Feherty says Augusta is playing "like Turnberry with trees." Augusta censors research Turnberry to determine if that's a compliment.  

3:29 - I'm back, brief nap. Just saw Shrek lay up on 15, even as he's on the cut line and lays up into the second cut. Wow. Nice to see the life totally taken out of 15.  All risk no reward. Made birdie though.

3:33 - Mrs. Doubtfire, in a blur of earth tones, goes out with a fitting bogey at the last to miss the weekend by 1.

3:42 - Rose taps in for par on 14 and his trousers are flapping in the wind. Wow it could be a long ugly weekend. Ogilvy has just 94 yards to the hole on 17. 350sih uphill drive.

3:49 - Ogilvy drains birdie on 17 to get to even. Glad that one hit the hole. And by the way, did I mention the wind is blowing?  Looks like the SubAir system will be getting the weekend off.

4:04 - Golf Digest's Pete McDaniel has posted the toughest critique yet of the Augusta National regime. I'd say he's the first to declare that we have seen the Hootie changes under firm conditions, and it's not pretty. Of course, some of us didn't need to see it play firm to know it stunk, but good to see such a strong critique from a calm, respected voice.

4:08 - Freddie two putts 18, with 5 finishing pars in that nasty wind, to make the cut at +8 keeping the remarkable 23-year streak going despite having played only 2 PGA Tour rounds this year.  

4:19 - Sergio's group finishes in 5:26, but they, thankfully the sun was out. Sporting a multi-colored hat, Sergio would blend in nicely at Hot Dog On-A-Stick.

4:28 - Shrek holes out 5:25 after he started, finishes with an impressive 73 in touch conditions. Hopefully he'll dress better tomorrow.

4:33 - While waiting for Justin Rose to finish, we're seeing Tiger's highlights. Good to see him in position A on 15 fairway to go for the green and he's in the second cut! 

4:40 - Jim Nantz reports that 60 players will be making the cut at +8 or better, with Clarke and Wetterich in the final pairing. And it's been since 1990 that the winner did not come out of the final Sunday pairing.

Friday
Apr062007

"You don't go to Las Vegas to attend a piano recital, and you don't go to the Masters to see a bunch of pars and bogeys."

Ed Sherman writing in Friday's Chicago Tribune (thanks to reader David for this):
Augusta National never was intended to be a thrasher like those other venues. But in trying to preserve the integrity of the course to combat technology, it appears tournament officials might have stripped the personality of the Masters.

You don't go to Las Vegas to attend a piano recital, and you don't go to the Masters to see a bunch of pars and bogeys. You want the glory, and that means eagles and birdies at Augusta.

You want to see Woods attacking the par-5 13th with his second shot instead of hitting a forgettable layup. The eagle potential on 13 and the par-5 15th were one of the highlights on the back nine. Thursday, there were only two eagles on those holes.

This wasn't Shinnecock silly during the final round of the 2004 U.S. Open, when the rock-hard greens had approach shots bouncing like superballs. But the combination of the added length and the firm greens afforded the players few birdie opportunities.

With the current conditions, it is hard to imagine anybody streaking home Sunday with a 30 on the back nine like Jack Nicklaus did in 1986, or with a 31 like Mickelson did winning in 2004.

Instead, it could come down to a matter of which player can avoid making bogeys. That's a U.S. Open.

Does that sound like fun?
Thursday
Apr052007

Friday's Masters Clippings

masterslogo.gifIsn't wireless internet grand. You type your story, copy and paste it, file it and boom, you're out of the press center and at the Waffle House by 10. No faxing. No dictating over the phone.  Well, on the days the wireless in the Masters media center doesn't crash!

Hey but the golf was really exciting. The Fred Ridley era got off to a rivetting start. A 76.174 scoring average only two eagles to go with 241 bogeys and only 102 birdies. And the scribblers who did get to file were not in much of a mood to celebrate the high numbers.

Lawrence Donegan's Guardian game story:

There is a certain vicarious thrill in seeing pampered players endure hardships at their place of work but attritional golf is the preserve of the US Open. The Masters has captured the imagination through the decades because it has produced thrilling stuff but there was little to stir the imagination on a leaderboard awash with bogeys and double bogeys. Indeed for a five-hour stretch in the morning there were three holes - the 1st, 7th and 9th - which failed to offer up a single birdie. No wonder Howell said after completing his round, on what was a beautiful Georgia day, that the galleries were "strangely quiet".

Traditionally pin positions are easier for the second round, so there should be a few more birdies on offer, but even so the word in the locker room is that level par might do the trick over the 72 holes.

AP's Jim Litke offers some interesting Tiger-warming-up-observations and writes:

If this is the new, improved Augusta National, welcome to a world of few cheers and even fewer birdies. Both will be in precious short supply.

And Vartan Kupelian was particularly cranky about the U.S. Open setup.

Now we know how Augusta National, bigger, longer and stronger, plays when it is fast and firm.

It doesn't play. It becomes work -- difficult, grinding and seldom artistic. The journey around Augusta National becomes maddening, not unlike the traffic outside on Washington Road.

There is a tiny difference: The greens are much faster.

And Washington Road is much nosier. Without many birdies and eagles, the wonderful roars that sent messages from Amen Corner, and every other corner at Augusta National, were muted Thursday, and that's too bad.

The crescendos have been part of the fun here, but we've already established Augusta National played more like the U.S. Open than the Masters -- pars, not birdies and better, were the order of the day, not fun.

Lorne Rubenstein looks at Mike Weir's struggles and has some observations from the course. 

apr5_poulter_600x600.jpgHey but at least Ian Poulter looked more like an Augusta pimp today. Image courtesy of golf.com.

If you like photos, don't miss the Principle's opening day photo caption fun.

Damon Hack's NY Times game story featured this on Justin Rose:

On Friday, Rose is scheduled to tee off at 2:14 p.m.

“I’ll probably watch a little bit of ‘Little Britain’ DVDs, Ali G DVDs, just stuff to occupy your mind, really,” he said. “You have to forget about it, reset the dial, and treat tomorrow as a clean slate.”

Finally, Jeff Haney looks at the creative solutions the oddmakers have come up with to overcome Tiger's status as an overwhelming favorite.

Thursday
Apr052007

"It was dramatic and it was wrong."

Tom Watson on the round one condition change from the practice rounds:
 Q. Referring to the change of the course between practice round and the tournament round.
TOM WATSON: It was dramatic and it was wrong. You aren't going to get a lot of rounds in the 60s in this wind. The greens here make this golf course. They dressed it up around the tees. It's a little too fancy. I like having some freedom off the tees.
Thursday
Apr052007

Masters Thursday Live Blog

masterslogo.gif1:00 - The King stripes it and we're underway. Oh yeah, and nice reminder from Bill Macatee that when Billy Payne asked, Arnold said yes after years of thinking about. Take that Hootie!

1:06 - Phil is approaching 18 from well behind the bunkers. Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo just reviewed the brutal conditions and setup. They sound SO excited! Wow, almost like they're hosting coverage for a funeral. Says a lot though. 

1:14 - The Mickelson-Ramsay-Scott pairing is wrapping up on 18. They teed off at 7:56 PST, so nice 5:20 round! 

1:15 - Brett Wetterich makes birdie on 13..fifteen minutes into the telecast, we have our first birdie! Singh rolls in another. We're up to two!

1:26 - Tiger's in with a 37 and it only took 2:34! 

1:31 - Justin Rose is in at 69, just in time for all of the English writers to have already filed their stories. Apparently he only had 20 putts, hit 5 greens, at least according to the BBC. Of course the USA crew didn't have that.

1:44 - USA stat: No birdies for Woods-Casey-Badds pairing through 10 and Faldo notes, 'it's not looking good through 11 either!"

1:52 - First interview in Butler Cabin, this with Justin Rose. Uh, not to be too picky, but are the fires in the fireplaces getting a little out of had down there? Did Hootie burn all of his papers down there at once in a towering inferno of frustration? The entire top center is blackened! Nice look. 

2:00 - Reader David notes that the low former champion at 5 EST?  Craig Stadler at -1. Fuzzy Zoeller is even. No, this is not 1987.

2:05 - A birdie for Badds on No. 11! Our third of the telecast...the tepid applause from the crowd is keeping me awake. Barely. Oh, birdie No. 4 from (Not Vijay) Singh on 15. A tap in. Rivetting! 

2:28 - Whoa, just nodded off here. I'm back! Tiger 247 yards into 13 and laying up? Maybe I should go back to sleep. Has he ever laid up on 13!?

2:33 - Okay I love Finchy, but Vijay smelling the flowers as he walks back to 13 tee? Who does he think he's talking about, Walter Hagen?

2:37: Oosty notes that 17 used to be 60 yards wide as we see David Howell in the silly grove down the right, which used to be the optimum angle of attack for today's back left hole location. Ah options and width and strategy, so antiquated! 

2:42 - Tiger makes his first birdie of the day! Took almost 4 hours. 

2:52 - Tiger gives us an idea how soft the fairways are after heaving his club on the 14th hole approach follow through. Stuck it! Meanwhile Stevie looks like he dropped the bag. Clubs are strewn. Rough day for the jovial looper.  

2:56 - Uh, scribblers who are on the grounds. Is that a giant oil streak mark on 13 green!? Or just my TV? 

3:12 - Tiger is leaning on his bag on 15 waiting...looks like he's having a blast! Can't imagine why he's cranky. Only 4:20 to this point!

3:17 - Tiger has fairway metal in and pulls off a brilliant shot. Makes birdie at 3:22, joins page one of the leaderboard. It's over. 

3:46 - Yes, that little has been happening. Tiger drove it perfectly down the right side on 17 for today's back left hole location, just as Jones and MacKenzie intended. Which would explain why he's in the middle of a pine grove!

3:47 - David Toms putting on 15. Grandstand almost empty. The patrons are lining up for dinner at the Olive Garden, hoping to get seated by 10. Oh how jealous the golf writers on deadline must be.

3:52 - Macatee says if form holds, this will be only the fifth round in last forty years to produce an average over 76. Fred Ridley must be proud. 

4:04 - USA is staying on until the end of play, serving all of the patrons who have gone home.  

4:12 - Tiger bogies 18 after a wicked snap hook recovery from the right trees ends up in the front bunker. He's still going to win. 

4:17 - Tiger: "I threw away a good round of golf today." 73 isn't that bad big guy, especially with the names in front of you. And it only took 5:20!

4:39: David Toms holes out on 18 for par and a fine opening 70. Even better, just 5:28 after he started! 

4:42 - Mercifully day one is over and Bill Mac just reminded us that the rebroadcast airs at 8 EST...wait, that's just 18 minutes away. So much for the Law and Order that was sandwiched in between the two! 

Thursday
Apr052007

Unplayable?

The Golf Channel's Mark Lye just walked the back nine and said the course "is on the verge of unplayablity."