First Masters Question: Is Augusta Live Undermining CBS's Credibility?

In reading reviews of the CBS coverage, most focus seems to be on the announcing and how they followed the Tiger-Phil drama. Bradley Klein charted these numbers:

The first commercial break didn’t come until 66 minutes into the telecast, and all told, by my count, we saw only 20 minutes of ads. That left time for golf, 378 shots in all shown live or “a moment ago.” Those shots comprised 57 drives; 96 full approaches into greens; six pitch-outs; 35 chips, recoveries or sand shots; 52 long putts, 83 short putts and 49 tap-ins. As for the common argument that we see too much putting, the evidence shows that 49 percent of all shots shown took place on the green.

Michael Hiestand in the USA Today really doesn't say much at all, but I thought I'd link it anyway. Kind of following in that Rudy Martzke tradition, isn't he? 

Chris Zelkovich picks on some of the sappier CBS comments in entertaining fashion. Don't worry, PK, he doesn't mention you!

Unmentioned in these reviews is the impact of Augusta Live, the amazing online bonus coverage that DirectTV subscribers also had access too.

On the live blogs here, we were consistently astonished just how few live shots CBS shows in comparison to what we were seeing in the online coverage of Amen Corner and the 15th/16h holes. Our friends watching BBC reported comments from post round interviews we never would have gotten and several other observations based on seeing actual golf shots instead of pre-packaged material.

For instance, we live blog participants knew all about Anthony Kim's historic round Friday as well as Rory McIlroy's disastrous finish and his ruling controversy, all thanks to Augusta Live or tips from viewers overseas. Yet for CBS, it was if they had a set script and no golf was going to get in the way.

Also disastrous was the 12th hole sequence Sunday. Every year the 12th tee caddy-player discussions provide us with the ultimate pressure moment. When Phil and Tiger arrived there, Ian Baker Finch and Nick Faldo talked over way too much of the club selection discussions. Now, I admire both as announcers and Faldo was particularly strong last week. So part of me wonders if they are told to talk viewers through things because there are so many non-golfers watching.

But I couldn't help noticing that Ian Eagle and Matt Gogel, announcing on Amen Corner Live coverage, went silent as Tiger-Stevie/Phil-Bones made the all-important 12th tee decision. (In hindsight, I should have muted my CBS feed.)

So my question: Is Augusta Live undermining CBS's credibility by exposing just how few live shots we see and golf shots period? Or is this merely the future of the broadcasting the Masters, where a network feed is an excessively-produced, almost documentary-style telecast for the masses while we viewers at home select feeds we want to watch, ala Augusta Live?

"I'm stupid. I hope Phil wins. That was dumb. Why did I do that?"

Did anyone notice this incident where the drunk fan made a scene Sunday with Phil Mickelson on 17?

According to The Augusta Chronicle, Masters security sought to confiscate the grounds badge of Steven T. Davis, 34, of Salt Lake City, but he said the badge fell off when he was in the bunker.

"I apologize," Davis said as he was taken away, likely to the Richmond County jail to face a disorderly conduct charge, according to the newspaper. "I'm stupid. I hope Phil wins. That was dumb. Why did I do that?"

Seems to me the explanation is pretty simple. He's from Salt Lake and he was just really happy to get a drink.

2009 Masters Final Round Clippings

Our dwindling press core summoned their finest insights and bold reactions to Sunday's Masters play. So sit back, prepare to click (remember, right to open in a new tab!) and enjoy a strong media performance. Of course it didn't hurt that there were great stories to tell.

We have all week for the traditional golf course and overall tournament post op, but if you followed the live blog you know we'll be talking about CBS, the extraordinary, the golf course setup twist (soft greens save the day!?), the architectural issues remaining (the list is getting shorter!) and the cruelty of ending the Masters in a sudden death playoff.

Alrighty, position those mouse pads and click away.

Larry Dorman in the New York Times:

When it comes to sudden changes, head-spinning and gut-wrenching ones, there is once again no place like Augusta National on a Sunday. The first three-man sudden-death playoff in 22 years at the Masters followed a daylong rush of adrenaline-charged roars that cascaded like Niagara Falls across the greensward.

Doug Ferguson for AP:

The Masters delivered the show everyone wanted and a champion no one expected.

From La Nacion:

Angel Cabrera volvió a hacer historia. Escribió otra página llena de gloria para el golf argentino. El cordobés se coronó campeón del Masters de Augusta, y puede sentir ese orgullo de saberse el primer argentino que se prueba el saco verde, un logro que el mismísimo Roberto De Vicenzo no pudo conseguir pese a haber estado a un paso hacerlo.


Lawrence Donegan filing for The Guardian:

Dreams can come true and they did yesterday at Augusta National: for the Masters, for those seeking an ultimate expression of golf's greatest rivalry and, finally, for Angel Cabrera who took the prized Green Jacket to add to the US Open trophy he won two years ago.

Mark Lamport-Stokes writing for Reuters:

Argentina's Angel Cabrera won his second major after a nerve-jangling playoff victory at the U.S. Masters on Sunday, becoming the first South American to claim the prized Green Jacket.

And because he's just that talented, Lamport-Stokes again:

El golfista argentino Angel Cabrera se adjudicó su segundo título en torneos "major" al ganar el domingo el Masters de Augusta en un vibrante desempate.

Back to the King's English, Mark Reason for the Telegraph:

Angel Cabrera of Argentina won the Masters but Kenny Perry lost it on one of the most dramatic afternoons in Augusta history.

Steve Elling for

It was Easter Sunday. His name is Angel.

Sappy, yes, but when otherworldly and inexplicable things happen, rational and linear-thinking folks tend to scratch their heads and question the deities about how good fortune sometimes leads to fame.

And Kevin Eason for The Times:

All eyes had been on the two top names in golf and a man bidding to become the oldest winner of a major title, but Ángel Cabrera emerged from one of the most thrilling climaxes in the history of Augusta to become the Masters champion last night.

Since there weren't too many stories on the champ, let's thank reader Tim for saving us the time looking for Alan Shipnuck and Luis Fernando Llosa's outstanding 2007 SI profile of Cabrera.

And while we're at it, Jaime Diaz's August 2007 profile for Golf Digest, too. Here's Angel's official website.


I don't know if it's a language barrier deal but the Kenny Perry stories were in greater abundance and passionately portrayed.

Kevin Mitchell in The Guardian:

At the protracted end of the most extra­ordinary Masters since Tiger Woods gate-crashed Augusta 12 years ago, and very nearly echoing Jack Nicklaus's win aged 46 here in 1986, Kenny Perry dragged his stiff old bones around the famous course in pursuit of a victory to defy the odds, the years, the lengthening shadows and all reasonable aesthetics.

Gary Van Sickle for

It wasn't just the Masters on the line this week for Perry. It was validation for a long and productive career, the realization of a dream. Because the American dream is Kenny Perry. Small-town kid makes good, rags to riches, Horatio Alger — all in one. It's the dream that promises anything is possible if you work hard, try hard, and are tough enough. Or as late NCAA basketball coach Jim Valvano commanded, "Don't give up, don't ever give up."

Thomas Bonk at

Perry said his mother has cancer. He said there is more to his life than losing a major, in a playoff, no matter how it happens. He refused to second-guess himself about not holding on to a lead.

"I'm not going there. I'm not going pity-person on me. All I know is all the big stars make it happen. They are where they are and we're down here.

"I just hope somewhere I can get back there again."

AP's Jim Litke writes:

A golfer doesn't scuffle when he's young just to make the tour, struggle to hold his place throughout the middle of his career and then, at an age when most pros begin mapping out plans for the senior circuit, suddenly discover there's magic in those thick, calloused hands. Perry did.

Bob Harig writing for

A golfer doesn't scuffle when he's young just to make the tour, struggle to hold his place throughout the middle of his career and then, at an age when most pros begin mapping out plans for the senior circuit, suddenly discover there's magic in those thick, calloused hands. Perry did.

Perry then stopped himself, realizing there are worse things than losing a golf tournament. His mom, Mildred, has cancer. His dad, Ken, is 85 years old, Kenny's biggest fan and supporter, and trying to look after his wife.

His kids, Lesslye, 24, Justin, 23 and Lindsey, 20, were all here, devastated, speechless.
"I got a lot of people hurting right now," Perry said.

No doubt.

And finally, Steve Elling writes:

Time stands still for no man, major winner or runner-up. And the most painful part of the equation is this: What if Perry never again contends on such a grand stage?

Ask anybody over age 50. After a certain point, the memories are all you have. This one's going to sting forever.


Nancy Armour on Chad Campbell, runner up:

He came out of the scorer’s shed with a determined look on his face, nodding yes when someone asked if he was ready to go. While Perry and Cabrera signed their cards, he and his caddie headed to the 18th tee for the first playoff hole.

Cabrera’s tee shot sailed into the trees on the right side, landing squarely behind a tree. Perry and Campbell’s drives, meanwhile, sat in the middle of the fairway.

“I was pretty excited to hit the fairway,” Campbell said. “I haven’t hit the fairway there all week, I think.”


Tiger And Phil
A vast and entertaining spectrum of takes on Phil and Tiger, Tiger and Phil.

Tim Dahlberg writing for AP:

The record will reflect that Angel Cabrera won this Masters and the coveted green jacket that goes along with it. But anyone watching will tell you that Tiger and Phil stole the show.

The fans who streamed out of Augusta National by the hundreds even as the leaders played the back nine certainly thought so. They could have stuck around for what eventually became the first three-way playoff in 22 years, but there didn’t seem much point after the thrills Woods and Mickelson provided.

Gene Wojciechowski at

The early evening and the Masters championship belongs to Cabrera -- no small thing -- but the day, the 75-deep galleries, the loudest roars belonged to Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. And for a moment there, when the two of them were just a single stroke out of the lead heading into the 17th hole, this 2009 Masters was almost theirs, too.

"I would say it was the most fun I've ever had on a golf course caddying," said Jim Mackay, who has carried Mickelson's bag for years.

"A couple of shots could have changed the whole world," said Steve Loy, Mickelson's agent.

Cabrera, who won a U.S. Open in 2007 at Oakmont, gets the big paycheck and the sterling replica Masters trophy. But Woods and Mickelson are the two guys who gave this tournament and this Sunday an adrenaline rush. My ears still hurt.

Cameron Morfit on the first tee scene for Tiger and Phil.

You would have thought it was 1997, to judge by the scene as players, caddies, coaches and hangers-on arrived for the final round. Kultida Woods, dressed entirely in red, including a visor the size of a lampshade, strode up in the middle of a red-shirted, Nike-swooshed Tiger posse.

"Hi, Fluff," she said to caddie Mike Cowan, Tiger's former bag man whose marshmallow mustache matched his white coveralls. "Good luck, today."

"Hi, Ma Woods," Cowan said back as he rubbed a towel over Jim Furyk's grips.

Bill Pennington with this on the first tee handshake:

The handshake that followed was frosty and perfunctory, like something two unfriendly neighbors might exchange at church with the pastor watching.

Bill Elliott in The Guardian:

Phil spends hours signing autographs, Tiger avoids as many as he can. Phil talks to everyone and then retreats to his den to watch his bank of TVs and bet on several sports at the same time while Tiger says he loves scuba diving "because no one tries to talk to me down there". Different? If they were any more different these blokes would be playing tours on separate planets.

Melanie Hauser looks at what could have been for Mickelson and talks to wife Amy:

Augusta seems to feed Mickelson’s soul the way it always has with Ben Crenshaw. There’s a spiritual component, a deep-down-in-his-heart reverence for the course that Bobby Jones and Alister Mackenzie built. For the clubhouse. For the first major of the year.

“He comes here and it’s almost like a religious experience," she said. “He’ll go putt alone. Even in the dark sometimes."

David Dusek on trying to follow Tiger and Phil:

No one had the clout to simply walk up and get a good look at the action from up close. Not even Tida Woods, Tiger's mother, who was walking with Nike's Phil Knight, could get close.
As she crossed a fairway, a fan carrying two empty beer cups said to his friends, "Hey, there's Tiger's mom! She's like Mary Magdalene or something."

T.J. Auclair files an excellent blow-by-blow account of the Tiger-Phil day.

Lorne Rubenstein says even "the game's best players aren't immune to errors at the most critical times."

Jay Busbee isn't so kind, asking if Tiger and Phil choked while Matthew DeBord at Huffington Post wants everyone to get along:

One of these days, Woods and Mickelson are going to need to recognize that, like Palmer and Nicklaus, they are forever joined, even if Tiger will have the grander career. They are both very, very good, and they gave us a fantastic show. It would have been nice to witness them acknowledge it, to each other. No, more than nice. Historic. Competition is all well and good, but sportsmanship lasts longer.

It's so much better when they can't stand each other. We wouldn't have it any other way.

Then again, wouldn't it be fun if they designed a course some day like The King and The Bear? That'd probably get held up in the negotiations. Loy: Phil wants to land his plane first. Steiny: Nope, Tiger always lands first, sorry.

Young Guns
Melanie Hauser on how far John Merrick has come.

John Merrick remembers laying down beside the 18th green here in 2004.

The UCLA senior was exhausted -- from a college event the weekend before and, well, a long night. So he plopped down.

The next thing he knew, someone in a green jacket was standing over him. “Son,’’ he said, “you can’t be laying down.’’

Merrick chuckled. He’s come a long way.

Paul Newberry on Shingo Katayama's fourth place showing.

Still, he equaled Toshi Izawa’s fourth-place finish at the 2001 Masters. No Japanese golfer has ever finished higher than Isao Aoki, runner-up to Jack Nicklaus at the U.S. Open in 1980.

With Katayama and 17-year-old Ryo Ishikawa, who failed to make the cut in his first Masters but gained valuable experience, the future certainly looks bright.

“I’m hoping that Japanese golf,” Katayama said, “will be coming forward in the world.”

An unbylined Scottish Herald piece on Rory McIlroy's final round 70 and his joke: "Not to dance in the bunker."

I'm not sure I'd call this dancing, but I sure would call it a penalty.

Old Geezers
Sandy Lyle, quoted in the Scottish Herald:

"It was disappointing not to make par up the last but at least I finished ahead of the current Open champion."

I guess when you aren't the Ryder Cup Captain, you can say things like that.

Larry Mize in his online diary for

This was a great day and a great week for me, but the most exciting thing, I think, for the course and the Tournament was that the roars were back, kind of like the old days.

Augusta Is Back
Dave Kindred for

Before the choke part, the wonder of this Masters was pretty much what Bobby Jones had in mind. This was the Augusta National we love. We've had enough of those forced marches over broken glass, everyone bleeding. Boring bogeys are for the sadists who run the U.S. Open. At the Masters, the idea is that great shots can transform a golf tournament into a thrill ride. And even better, there comes the time, with immortality there for the taking, when a man's right hand suddenly gets a mind of its own. Poor Kenny Perry testifies to that.

Rich Lerner with his Hooks and Cuts, includes several great observations.

Billy Payne’s greatest achievement previously was bringing the Olympic Games to Atlanta. It may now well be bringing the Masters back in all its glory. With help from Mother Nature. And from Tiger, Phil, Kenny Perry, Chad Campbell and Cabrera.

Leonard Shapiro writing for CBSSports:

Augusta National prides itself on giving its "patrons" the best possible experience, but if you watched this heavyweight battle at home, you had the best seat in any house. And yet, just the sonic-boom sound of those roars when Mickelson and Woods began making birdies in bunches had to be worth the price of admission for anyone in those teeming crowds struggling to see a putt here, a drive there.

Michael Bamberger, partaking in this week's SI Golf group serial novel, is right to compliment Fred Ridley and his team for a masterful week setting up the course.

It was a great Masters, but you have to give a big nod to Fred Ridley, the former USGA president and Augusta National member who sets up the course. A course like Augusta National is an artwork, and if you're just a little heavy with blue — the wrong tee positions, the wrong hole locations, the wrong Thursday-Friday pairings — the whole thing can sink. They got everything right this year, and the weather helped, but it was not anything like the greatest Masters. To rise to that level you have to have players doing triumphant things down the stretch, not missing fairways and greens and flubbing chips.

That last part Michael is referring to would be Hootie and Tom Fazio's gift to the game, by no means Ridley and his team's fault. They merely tailored the setup to the pallet and did it beautifully.

Da Medja
Dick Friedman thought CBS had a great day and while I thought the presentation by the camera and sound teams was in fine form (love those owl shots!) and Nick Faldo really shined with top notch insights, other announcers talked over essential conversations. The incredible video streams are easily the golf viewing highlight of the year now and totally outshined the network coverage by exposing just how many shots were on tape. Amen Corner Live's Ian Eagle and Matt Gogel had a great week and were silent at just the right times.

Damon Hack hopes to improve on his 112 last time he was drawn in the media lottery.

The reporter in John Garrity got the best of him as a shootout broke out Sunday, and he teases about an interesting story he's working on.

Odds and Ends's excellent daily summary notes that the 15th played easiest Sunday, but only gave up 2 eagles.

Here's a Masters Playoff summary. Hopefully they are listing the last ever Sudden Death playoff.

ESPN posts the Green Jacket ceremony here where you can see man pink faced guys try to follow Angel Cabrera's acceptance speech. Good stuff!

The final scores and purse breakdown.

Round 4 course stats.

Cumulative course stats. The scoring average this week: 72.6062

Greens in Regulation

Driving Distance

Putting Leaders

Press Room Interviews: Chad Campbell Kenny Perry Angel Cabrera


And finally, there's only one place to go for images. The Augusta Chronicle's Angel Cabrera gallery, their Kenny Perry images, their Tiger-Phil shots, their round four collection and their photos from the playoff.

Thanks to everyone who chimed in for the Live Blogs. We had our most spirited group yet on Sunday and I learned a lot.

Another memorable Masters is in the can.

"I don't care they can do whatever they want. I just come her and play and then go home."

Following Sergio Garcia's Masters final round 74, a Golf Channel reporter or producer stuck a microphone in front of the 29-year-old reigning Players PLAYERS champion, who blasted Augusta National and the Masters.

"I don't like it to tell you the truth. I don't think it's fair. It's too tricky. It's too much of a guessing game."


"I don't care, they can do whatever they want. I just come here and play and then go home.

Kraig Kann moderated an ensuing discussion session that epitomized the stellar--dare I say--breakout week for analysts Brandel Chamblee, Frank Nobilo and Dottie Pepper. (Ben Crenshaw was great in his cameo's, John Feinstein bordered on insufferable and Jim Gray indecipherable. Lerner and Sands were in top form as they always are at the majors, while Rosaforte, Hawkins, Micelli and Hoggard covered a nice variety of angles.)

But back to the big three analysts who can be seen in this "final thoughts" video on TGC. Half the time Nobilo made me turn to the TV with a "what the &%^$" scowl, only to have Chamblee give him the old, "uh no Frank."

Which is precisely why it made for such great viewing. 

On the disastrous Sergio moment, Nobilo equated it with Bobby Jones' temper tantrum during his first round at the Old Course and that over time, Sergio may learn to love the place.

Brandel countered quickly that Bobby Jones was 21, Sergio's 29, and "by now he should have matured." Chamblee observed that the "chip on Sergio's shoulder" combined with the New York galleries that taunted him last time will "come to haunt him at Bethpage."

Dottie chimed in with a shrewd observation about Sergio needing to make an effort to visit Augusta at a non-tournament time to better acquaint himself with the course and club.

Back at the studio, Vince Cellini piled on, noting Sergio's "darkness" and "petulance after these major performances."

Kelly Tilghman reminded us of the 2004 Masters 66 spat and the 2007 Open pouting and suggested that "obviously he is struggling with some demons."

To cap it all off, Alex Micelli was brought in and asked about Sergio: "I have two teenage daughters at home and they would deal with this a lot better than the way the petulant, childish Sergio Garcia does."

This isn't your father's Golf Channel!

Just a great week for Golf Channel, headquartered at nearby Augusta CC. Chamblee was particularly strong in dissecting what's wrong with the golf course and stuck to his bold opinions (by TGC and ANGC standards) that the rough and new trees need to go while the ridiculous depth of the bunkers is diminishing some of the risk-reward temptation essential to holes like 1, 5 and 8.

But the entire crew shined and kudos to Golf Channel for spending the money to give hardcore golfers the Masters coverage they deserve.

Sunday Masters Clippings: Cheer Up Lads!

I sit down for an exciting Saturday night of reading and my beloved scribblers turn out to be all cranky. They get a Tiger-Phil pairing and instead of celebrating, it seems most of them think this thing is over.

It's as if they think it's over because--smooching up stories notwithstanding--they still don't think the course is susceptible to the back nine charge. I can't imagine why anyone would think that. Just because 10-11-12 are the three toughest holes scoring-average wise, the 15th yielded one eagle Sunday and a heroic Tiger chip-out from the Christmas trees, and then there's that super wide 17th!

Anyway, I, being more positive, am holding out hope for a thrilling finish Sunday. We certainly have more people in contention.

Let's get the dirty details out of the way. Here's your Leaderboard and Pairings Groupings. lists all of the past winners on Easter Sunday, not that it means a thing.'s team puts together a nice digest of notes and bits about how the course played.

Nancy Armour files notes on Steve Stricker, unhappy Ian Poulter after a 68, Chad Campbell's club selection decision on 16 and great news on the ESPN ratings front (because I was worried they might not survive without a good number this week).

Okay, now to the coverage.

Lede Watch

James Corrigan in the Independent:

They might be a lowly triumvirate in terms of profile outside of their sport, but Angel Cabrera, Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell have lit up this golfing heaven this week. It is certainly hard to envisage anyone else donning green in the Butler Cabin this evening.

Doug Ferguson, not so grumpy, for AP:

Angel Cabrera and Kenny Perry have proven they can handle the pressure on golf's biggest stage. Next up is Sunday at Augusta National, a test unlike any other they have faced.

Oliver Brown in the Telegraph:

Angel Cabrera goes by the nickname 'El Pato’, the duck, but there was nothing remotely waddling about the Argentinian’s third-round performance at Augusta on Saturday as he surged into a share of the lead in the US Masters on 11 under par, alongside American Kenny Perry.

Thomas Bonk for

There will be no Paddy Slam. Tiger's number is 14 and holding. Phil's closet is stuck on two green jackets.

You might as well get used to it.

Mark Lamport Stokes is more positive in his Reuters piece:

Almost 13 years after squandering a chance to clinch his first major title, American Kenny Perry has the opportunity to become the oldest winner of a grand slam crown at the U.S. Masters.

Larry Dorman in the New York Times:

This was supposed to be the year the Masters went hip, celebrated youth and turned over the keys to Augusta National Golf Club to the plugged-in generation. But Saturday, on a sunny, breezy day, the older fellows decided to show the teenagers and 20-somethings just how the game was played.

David Walsh in The Times is having a hard time envisioning a winner outside of the final two groups.

Given the way the course has played and how Cabrera and Perry have handled themselves through 54 holes, it is barely conceivable that they could both be overtaken by Woods or Mickelson and, beyond Campbell and Furyk, it is difficult to see a winner other than the two leaders.

John Huggan sounds slightly optimistic:

The plan was to reproduce the loud and lustrous back nine birdies, eagles and roars that once captivated spectators around the world. The plan was to forget what has recently been.

And this Masters, the 73rd, has, broadly speaking, achieved all of the above. So far at least. But what wasn't anticipated was a dollop of irony. While the men atop the leaderboard after 54 holes are all fine golfers, none is the most charismatic character amongst the game's elite. For "interesting" read "introverted".


The Final Four

Jay Busbee with this fun fact sheet on the three men at the top.

Eric Soderstrom says it's a battle of "unassuming men." Is that a euphemism for boring?

Bob Harig is more diplomatic and focuses on experience angle.

Steve Elling mines all sorts of great details about Kenny Perry's days when he was washing carts and struggling, talking to Sandy Perry and in general making him a lot more likeable. (And making it hard to imagine this is the same guy who complained about having to play the Tour Championship last year).

The Prick Pairing

You know I'm with Rosaforte and Micelli who both said on their Golf Channel spots that this whole Stevie-I-hate-the-prick thing is overblown and has been put behind by all involved. Of course, of course, BUT...just in case you want to relive the drama...

Here's where Stevie made stuff up and in general came across as a, well, prick. Here's where he tried to spin things and only made matters worse. Here's Phil's hilarious comeback that assured Bones he'll be gainfully employed for some time. And here's Tiger trying to put the little spat to rest. Memories...

The scribblers focused more on the notion that drama aside, Phil and Tiger don't have much chance to catch the hounds unassuming men they are chasing.

Jim Litke writing for AP:

What it could have been: golf’s “Rumble in the Jungle.”

What it’s going to be: “Disgusta at Augusta.”

The clash of the titans that everybody in the sport was dying to see—Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson in the final round of the Masters—has already been relegated to the undercard.

AP's Tim Dahlberg declares Tiger's chances dead on arrival:

So spend a little extra time at church. Take the kids out to hunt for some eggs. Put a glaze on the ham.

Anyone of a handful of players could end up with the green jacket sometime early Sunday evening, but this much is sure.

Tiger Woods is done.

Jeff Babineau invokes religion for Easter Sunday.

A prayer. That’s about what Woods’ chances appear to be after another ho-hum, lackluster lap around The National on Saturday, something that has become more the norm than the exception. Make no mistake, Woods fought to the very end, making three birdies in his final six holes to post a respectable number (2-under 70). But he’s a long, long way from home.

Rich Lerner did some unscientific research Saturday and found people bored by the leaders and he doesn't sense that the course will allow for Tiger or Phil to make a run.

The hope at the start of the week was for a retro Masters with second nine Sunday roars. Pat Summerall’s doing voiceovers, the piano music’s still soothing, the course still green but the giant swings in momentum are missing.

Rex Hoggard on past Tiger-Phil pairing results:

Sunday will mark the 22nd time the two have been paired together in a Tour event and the first time at a major since the 2001 Masters. And, for the record, Woods has posted a better round than Mickelson 15 out of those 22 head-to-heads, including that 2001 run at Augusta National. charts the past pairings.

Kevin Garside writes off Tiger's chances Sunday.

Augusta National is simply too big a test for a golfer playing only his fourth competitive tournament since having a knee rebuilt. There is a reason they don’t play major championships at Bay Hill, scene of Woods’ first tour victory into his comeback a fortnight ago.

Off the tee Woods was all over the place here. A wayward drive on the first led to a double bogey start. Another at the second had him down on his knee. No blame attaches to his iron into the short par 6. The irons were his saviour on Saturday, apart from this one, which was too good, splicing the flag stick like an arrow issued by Robin Hood.

Michael Bamberger details the infirmary situation at the Mickelson household (ouch Amanda, poor thing!) that probably didn't help Phil's play in Houston, and says he believes Phil about his chances for a dramatic comeback Sunday.

It'd be a fantasy, of the Ben-Crenshaw-at-Brookline variety, to think that the winner could come out of the seventh-to-last group. But what makes it semi-feasible is that Augusta National has not been this conducive to scoring in years. There seems to be more grass, which is allowing for more aggressive chip shots. Because of the storm that passed through Augusta as Friday turned into Saturday, the greens were soft and receptive.

Paddy Slam, RIP

Mark Reason details the second hole 9 that cost Paddy Harrington a chance at three straight majors.

The Irish Times' Paul Gallagher reports on the Irish trio's tough day Saturday including...

Rory Ruling, Not Quite RIP

Interesting new details emerged on Friday's Rory ruling, including an explanation for the excruciating length of time between incident and resolution. Part of it is Rory's fault. Sounds like Fred Ridley is too patient and forgiving.

Nancy Armour of AP shares this:

His phone rang at 6:30 p.m. EDT, and Fred Ridley, chair of the competition committees at Augusta National asked what he’d done on 18.

“I said, ‘I played my bunker shot, didn’t get it out of the bunker. Played my next shot over the green and three-putted for a seven,’ ” McIlroy said.

Ridley told McIlroy they were looking at his bunker shots, and asked if he wanted to return to the club to review the tape. McIlroy said no thanks, confident he hadn’t done anything wrong.

Almost two hours later, Ridley called back and told McIlroy it was in his best interest to look at the tape. At issue was whether McIlroy kicked the sand or swiped it; it looked like a kick because some sand flew up.

Mark Reason talks to a few folks who say McIlroy got away with a violation even if the rule in question is peculiar and also raises questions about the club's sense of urgency.

Peter McEvoy, the captain of the winning Walker Cup teams in 1999 and 2001, said: “Was Rory McIlroy guilty? The spirit of the rules say no, the letter of the law says yes. I would have done the same as the Augusta Committee. But I am very surprised that they did find no violation of the rules. I thought they would disqualify him.”

The Masters hierarchy had been informed of the incident, but an hour after they knew about it a rules official had still not been summoned. The rules officials only found out when a member of the press called one of them. Why hadn’t they been called earlier?

James Corrigan says it's time for a rule change.

Only the BBC showed replays and they were just about inconclusive enough to take McIlroy's word for it. Whether sand can fly into the air, as it did, while being smoothed is a moot point. The rule-makers need to apply hasty clarification. It would be a shame if McIlroy's image as the most refreshing golfer to hit the game in many a year was in any way compromised.

Billy Payne, Our Resurrecting Lord Of Augusta As It Should Be

Lawrence Donegan says Billy Payne has delivered on starting to undo the reign of Hootie Johnson in many areas, including the golf course.

Those who do take an interest in architecture and who have long considered Augusta to be the most strategically brilliant layout in the world (outside of St Andrews, at least) know that the responsibility for "crime" lies largely with Johnson, who sanctioned a series of changes to the course around the start of the decade that undermined its elemental genius.

Holes were lengthened, trees planted, rough grown. Thinking golf was replaced by mindless golf. Where once players had multiple options, they now had one: middle of fairway, middle of green, hope for a single putt and for God's sake don't take any risks. Therein lay the road to public indifference, and the Masters was halfway there.

Fortunately, Payne appears to have recognised the problem and he is nimble enough to do something about it.



The SI team's lovely photos from Saturday.

And as always, the Augusta Chronicle's extensive gallery is here.

They left John Daly alone Saturday and focused on golf. But for fun, Marty Hackel takes us behind the scenes at the BBC booth.


Okay see you Sunday at around 11:15 for the live blog and what could be a very exciting day.

"A unanimous decision."

Steve Elling reports that there was a problem getting ahold of Rory McIlroy yesterday and that authorities wanted his side of the story, which sounds good.

An Augusta National club official said Saturday morning that several rules officials from various worldwide tours and organizations, including the PGA Tour, were involved in the deliberations and that it was "a unanimous decision." McIlroy told the committee officials that he habitually rakes over his bunker footprints before exiting a trap and that while he wasn't happy, he was merely smoothing out the sand.

The BBC interviewed McIlroy and features this photo of the incident.

John Vander Borght looks at Rule 6-6 (“If he returns a score for any hole lower than actually taken, he is disqualified") and asks if it needs to be changed.

Saturday Masters Clippings: Hanging Chad

Chad Campbell may be leading, but Golf Channel's Alex Micelli appropriately likened a wait on Rory McIlroy's fate to the "hanging chad" debacle that defined the 2000 Presidential election.

It seems the Masters rules committee took a whopping four hours plus to decide whether McIlroy had violated the rules after swiping the sand on No. 18. Those of you following along on the live blog (that we'll be doing again Saturday and Sunday) know that our friends watching on BBC reported that the network was scrutinizing the incident, while we ESPN viewers taking the CBS feed got no word whatsoever of Rory's terrible finish, much less a possible rules issue. That merely culminated a day of dismal coverage exposed (ironically) by the excellent online feeds that revealed just how much golf television viewers were either missing, or seeing five minutes after happening.

First, here's the definitive story on Rory, filed by Steve Elling after most of the scribblers finally gave up around 9:30 (!).

After a laughably long delay, club employees finally distributed a pairing sheet for Saturday's third round and the 19-year-old's name was on the list. A moment later, an Augusta employee began hurriedly collecting the tee sheets from media members, claiming they were issued prematurely.

The club then announced that McIlroy was still in the field and that a statement would be forthcoming.

Amazingly, while awaiting further clarification from club officials, a tornado warning was posted at the club.

Approximately 4½ hours after he had completed his round, McIlroy returned to the club and watched a videotape of the incident. Fred Ridley, chairman of the Masters competition committee, said in a club statement that the rules allow for a player to smooth out his footprints in the bunker after making a stroke "provided that, with regard to his next stroke, nothing is done to improve the positon or lie of his ball, the area of his intended swing, his line of play or a reasonable extension of his line beyond the hole or the area in which he is to drop or place the ball."

Elling goes on to detail how the Ridley statement created more questions than answers and why it took so long to handle the situation. This surely will recall memories of Ridley's reign as USGA President. He was at the helm for the Shinnecock Hills debacle.

Meanwhile the Internet Writer Of The Year filed a late piece and concludes appropriately that Rory was a "very lucky young man" Friday. Translation as I read it: how on earth did the committee conclude there was no violation?

The Belfast Telegraph's Ed Curran looked at the 19-year-old's weird day, with a headline calling it Rory's "fit of Masters petulance."

As for television, the day was summed up by ESPN/CBS putting so little focus on Anthony Kim's epic, unbelievable, surreal, unfathomable round of 11 birdies. They barely covered his birdie putt on 18, and while Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo praised the accomplishment, it should have been treated with much more coverage. We don't need another Par-3 contest clip package or a Harry Connick Jr. voice over when history is happening before our very eyes!

Bill Griffith looks at the oddity of an ESPN/CBS synergy, while on a lighter note, Bob Smiley obtains a copy of Jim Nantz's preparatory notes for this year's telecast.


Lede Watch

Doug Ferguson for the AP:

Kenny Perry thought he had a storybook ending to his career when he helped the Americans to a Ryder Cup victory on his native Kentucky soil and shared an emotional embrace with his father.

But that triumphant ride toward retirement is taking a stunning detour down Magnolia Lane.

Bill Elliott in the Guardian:

On the day Gary Player missed his final Masters cut and said goodbye to Augusta from the bottom of the board and 11-birdie Anthony Kim and his young friends frolicked round Augusta National like spring lambs, Tiger Woods suffered a rare bout of mid-career blues.

Larry Dorman, filing for the New York Times:

The wind came up at Augusta National Golf Club on Friday and the second-round scores went up with it. But this was no struggle against the elements. The fortunes of some golfers were blown off course, but for many others the prospects seemed to steady, bringing an elite order to the field at the halfway mark.

All of the above said, I agree with Ron Green Jr. who reviews the storylines and concludes that this Masters is just getting started. Think about that! has the leaderboard and Saturday tee times.

John Boyette reported late Friday that rain and hail hit Augusta National, but that plans were for gates to open on time at 8 a.m.


Thomas Bonk on "white bread, tan slacks, beige dining room wall, blend-into-the-background" Chad Campbell.

Mr. 11 Birdies In One Round At Augusta National!

I'm not sure what is more amazing, that Anthony Kim made 11 birdies at Augusta National in one round, or that he revealed after the round that he read a newspaper. He told the press that as many of us were, he was struck by the horribly tragic death of Nick Adenhart. Alan Bastable blogs about Kim's epic round and Kim's heartfelt press conference revelation.

Derek Lawrenson on the Kim-McIlroy pairing:

Anyone who was following McIlroy and Kim yesterday had an experience to treasure. Talk about a wild rollercoaster ride. There was an eagle from McIlroy at the 13th that was almost contemptuous in its brilliance. There were all those birdies from Kim, plus a double-bogey calamity of his own at the 10th. What price these two having plenty of dingdong battles in the future? For now the momentum is with Kim, who, after a slow start to the season, finds himself just five off the lead.

Old Geezers

Steve Elling on co-leader Kenny Perry who attributes his spirit to his dad, the man who used to beat the crap out of him. Don't believe me, read the story.

Jim Achenbach admits that he is rooting for Kenny, putting him in select company...among media, among media. I love Kenny!

Bill Fields files a career retrospective of Gary Player after his final Masters appearance.

Cameron Morfit says they were planning a big family outing for Player Friday night, weather permitting.

One of Gary's six children, and the chief executive of Black Knight International, Marc was planning a celebratory braii — a South African barbecue — for 200 guests at a large rental house just off the golf course Friday night.

"We have all the tables set up outside," Marc said. "Tell me it's not going to rain, even if it is. You can lie."

Gary Player, 73, indulges in "the odd scotch," Marc said, but he was unlikely to eat much bull tongue or any other animal protein. He still subsists on walnuts and almonds, fruits and vegetables.

An AP story on Fuzzy's goodbye and the 30 seconds that obscured 30 years of good will.

And Kevin Garside looks at the amazing 5 birdie run by Ryder Cup Captain former Masters Champion Sandy Lyle.


Tim Dahlberg offers up some prime bulletin board material for Tiger:

All the while, Woods was playing as though he were in the U.S. Open.

For a second day in a row, Woods preached patience and played conservatively. For a second day in a row, he did little but watch as players passed him by.

The Tiger of 1997 would have had this guy for breakfast. If he doesn't watch it, the new Tigers of 2009 will eat his lunch.

The Amateurs

Drew Kittleson has many great memories, some new crystal gobblets on the way, and one epic eagle to remember his Masters appearance by. Oh his sense of humor:

I appreciate my teachers letting me miss so much class, especially Ms. McCrea, who was looking for a shout out from my diary and now has one.

Dave Kindred writes about Kittleson's day and his other eagle on 15.

Jack Newman recalls the highlights of his week and says he's been offered a spot into the Deere Classic.

Grades and Awards

Eric Soderstrom runs through the big names that missed the cut, including Stewart Cink who posted a humorous item on Twitter. offers their grades, while serves up Birdies and Bogies.


The SI team's images of the day.

Golfweek's slideshow with some really neat images.

The Augusta Chronicle breaks their images up into multiple galleries. Too many to link.

Flora and Fauna

Michael Bamberger runs into some troops in the Augusta airport parking lot and shares a flood of Masters memories as well as some perspective from the men headed for Iraq.

The Daily Mail's Alan Fraser visits John Daly at this merchandise table and I'm not sure what is worse, the comments or the photos of John sitting there selling his stuff.

How did Tiger finish up in the first round?' Daly asked. 'I was watching but I didn't catch the finish.'

Daly was standing in front of his bus and behind a line of Formica-topped cafeteria tables laden with assorted T-shirts, flags, hats and driver covers from his Lion merchandising range. Daly himself was manning the stall, taking the dollar bills and counting out the change Surely, this was an undignified, nay humiliating, position for an Open and US PGA Champion to find himself in. Surely, if he could not play at Augusta he should have stayed away and not further harmed his reputation.

'I don't care what people think and say,' Daly said. 'One thing for sure, the 25,000 people going through here never question my dignity. It is all about the fans.'

Anne Szeker reports that Daly performed with Hootie and the Blowfish Thursday night. Worse, there's video. And he's performing Knockin' On Heaven's Door. Wouldn't Dylan be proud?

More pleasant video is Marty Hackel's early morning piece on where the early spectators head for some good viewing.

Scott Michaux catches up with Dr. Ed Bailey, who has been to every Masters!

And finally, Alan Bastable passes along Kelly Tilghman's report (I thought she was kidding) that the PGA Tour is talking to Condoleeza Rice about a job. And David Cannon caught the moment Tim Finchem and Condy were chatting under the Big Oak.


How Nasty Is The Wind? No. 12 Closing In On 4.0!

The Amen Corner Live coverage is stellar again, especially with the video working so well this year. They just reported that there have been 10 pars, 12 bogies and 7 others, for a scoring average of 3.93 so far. And half the field has not even been through yet.

Friday Masters Clippings: Was That So Awful?

So 20 rounds were recorded in the 60s which set a first-round record and tied the most for any round. I'll be sleeping in, but could you easterners please just drop me a note and confirm a normal Eastern sunrise Friday, please?

Of course it's wonderful that the guys were allowed to play golf. The weather will be thanked to help justify the last decade of defensive golf brought on by changes small and glaringly awful, but it was pretty apparent that the speed and receptiveness of the greens made the real difference Thursday. Because on television there sure looked like there was a lot of wind, and in recent majors the slightest breeze had turned greens silly.  So even with a SubAir system that could dry them out, it sure looks to me like the committee played it safe. Good for them.

We had fun on the live blog, so come join us Friday.

Here's what the scribes said.

Lede Watch

Doug Ferguson for the AP, and therefore, the remaining newspapers in most of America:

There aren't many days like this at Augusta National: Sunny and warm, with barely a breeze. Greens nice and soft. Pins stuck in some pretty inviting spots.
A day for going low.

Rex Hoggard writing for

Thursday at Augusta National, henceforth known as old-timers day, was a perfect respite for scoring, pimento cheese sandwiches on finely clipped turf and strolls down memory lane, be the memories magical or of the mental baggage variety.

Lawrence Donegan in The Guardian:

The Augusta National golf course opened its arms to the world's best yesterday – offering a bucket load of hope instead of a barrowful of pain – and Chad Campbell walked gratefully into its benign embrace, followed quickly by Padraig Harrington and Tiger Woods.

James Corrigan writing for The Independent:

On the day that Augusta at last recovered its roar, Tiger Woods just about remained King of the Jungle. As the light was eventually dying on an enthralling first round so the world No 1 was signing for a 70, which left the him five shots behind the leader, Chad Campbell. And even allowing for a final-hole bogey, it could have been an awful lot worse.

And I like Larry Dorman's NY Times lede best:

Of all the unlikely possibilities to come out of the first round of the Masters on Thursday, Chad Campbell finishing with consecutive bogeys for a 65 might have topped the list. But when a perfect day for scoring at Augusta National Golf Club coincides with a benign course setup by the competition committee, anything can happen.

The Paddy Slam Is Alive And Well

Bob Harig says Paddy was spared an off course family drama that might have derailed his round. No worries, it was just a rash.

Kevin Mitchell tells a story about Paddy's dad and wonders if son will be like dad.

The Americans Are Back! Well All But Two Of Them

For a day anyway...according to Michael Walker.

Mark Soltau on leader Chad Campbell and his five birdies out of the chute:

Here's how he started: a 7-iron to two feet on one; a two-putt birdie on two; a sand wedge to five feet on three; a 2-iron to 18 feet on four; and a 7-iron to 15 feet on five.

"It did, absolutely," Campbell said, when asked if he thought about matching the course record. "Just on the back nine. It's always in the back of your head."

James Lawton on Lefty's frustrating opening day.

And unbylined AP story shares this about John Daly, still parked outside the gates selling merchandise:

After his weight, always a struggle for the 5-foot-11 Daly, ballooned to 280 pounds, he underwent Lap-Band surgery in February. A silicone band was placed around the upper portion of his stomach, shrinking its size and limiting how much he can eat. He's lost 42 pounds so far, and has gone from wearing XXXL shirts to extra large.

He's on a high-protein diet, and what he does eat has to be chewed and chewed and chewed so it will be soft enough to swallow. Alcohol? Daly said he'll have the occasional sip of a drink or a beer, but that's it.

"It takes me about an hour to drink one beer, just sipping on it," he said. "I drink a little bit, but not much."

Larry Mize

Thomas Bonk on the miraculous 67 from the 1987 Champ:

When Mize was 10, he went to the Masters and collected tees from Jay and Lionel Hebert.

When Mize was 14, he volunteered and hung up numbers on the Masters scoreboard at the third hole.

When Mize was 28, he won the Masters, chipping in at the 11th hole to beat Greg Norman in a playoff.

When Mize was 49, he missed the cut at the Masters for the seventh time in eight years.

When Mize began his 25th Masters with a first-round 67 on Thursday, it was the most surprised he's been in his 50 years . . .

Gary Van Sickle reports:

Mize had an explanation for why he and Norman and other experienced players fared well in the opening round. “We’re still competitors, we love to compete and we love this place,” he said.

“Greg showed last year at the British Open, he can still contend. At a place like this, experience is always a good thing. It’s good anywhere but maybe even more here. We are just old guys fighting as best we can.”

Greg Norman

Tim Dahlberg on The Shark's impressive opening 70...or not so impressive to the Shark himself.

"I had a lot of opportunities, really could have shot a nice, mid 60s score today," Norman said. "I didn't."

In another time, that would have eaten him up and caused him a sleepless night. But his expectations have been tempered by age, and even a botched short birdie putt on the 18th hole didn't keep him from smiling his way through an interview in the same room where 13 years ago he had to explain a shocking collapse in the final round of a tournament he had all but won.


While we're on the 1987 Masters stars, Bob Kimball reminds us that CBS is airing Jim Nantz Remembers Augusta: Seve at the Masters, Sunday at 1 pm EST.

Geoff Ogilvy

David Dusek on Geoff Ogilvy's bogey-bogey finish that understandably left him in no mood to talk.

The Young Ones

Cameron Morfit explains how Rory, Ryo and Anthony blew their chances at better scores.

The Amateurs

Jack Newman shoots and even par 72 and writes for

By the time I got to the course Thursday, however, I knew things were different. It started with the security guards I've been talking to all week. Instead of joking like they have every other day, they were pretty serious. "You can go sir" was all they said as I entered parking lot. You knew everyone was getting down to business.

Drew Kittleson files a diary entry for after his 78.

Dave Kindred on Steve Wilson's day.

And with a minute before he was due on the tee, he "got caught up in something," the caddie Martin said. "Then I saw Watson looking back for us. I said, "Steve, c'mon, we better go.'"

That would be one of Wilson's playing partners, Tom Watson, the winner of eight major championships. The immortal waited on the tee for the amateur gas-station owner.

"I was running to the tee then," Wilson said.

Not a good idea to be DQ'd from your first Masters, even if running to the tee contributes to a case of trembles that never ended. "Your hands are shaking," he said, "and you don't want anybody to see them."

The Thrills, The Birdies: Praise Our Lord And Savior, Billy Payne

Steve Elling says it all started right with the first tee moving up, and reviews the numbers.

Adam Schupak notes that short hitters even got in on the action.

We wanted roars. We got them.

On a warm, sunny day with wind a non-factor, birdies returned in bunches at the Masters.

Benign conditions combined with soft, receptive greens and accessible pins made the big leaderboard at 18 turn to a sea of red in the first round. A record 38 golfers broke par at Augusta National.

Gene Wojciechowski makes no sense in this lede. He acknowledges that roars were "unlikely" and then says some of us have been wrongly whining and complaining. Isn't there a Cubs game to cover?

Hear that? It's noise -- lots of it -- and it's coming from an unlikely source: 2604 Washington Road ... otherwise known as Augusta National Golf Club.

The roars returned to the Masters on Thursday and not a nanosecond too soon. For once it was nice to listen to something other than whining and complaining from those who wrongly think this course and this tournament have been lobotomized.

Jim Achenbach filed this note about hole locations for's blog (sorry, no Permalink...):

Thursday’s pin sheet revealed that 11 of 18 holes had a flagstick located five paces or less from the edge of the green. One pace is supposed to be three feet, so I decided to check them out.

The pin sheet said three paces on both No. 2 and No. 16.

Three paces? That’s nine feet. To me, the distance looked more like six or seven feet. These two hole locations were disturbingly close to hazards -- a bunker on No. 2 and a pond on No. 16.

Jim McCabe profiles the fifth hole as the last remaining spectator secret spot.

The fact that nary a soul could be heard yelping “get in the hole” made for an even more enjoyable day up there at a high point of the property.

Historically, Magnolia ranks as the fifth-hardest hole with a field average of 4.27 since 1942. With ideal scoring conditions in Round 1, the numbers were not quite that high (there were 11 birdies, just 19 bogeys, and a field average of 4.083 to rank ninth), but it’s not as if Magnolia sat there defenseless.

Notes and Awards's Round 1 Birdies and Bogies.

Bob Carney offers a roundup of the Golf Writers awards dinner.


The SI team's photographs are posted here.

Golfweek offers up their fast moving slide show, with a Chrissie sighting included. breaks their photos up. Arnold Palmer's opening tee shot is here. The first round leaders are here. And the rest of the round 1 shots are here.