"If you knew what you were going to get every week, then there's no point in having me"

The Augusta Chronicle's Scott Michaux considers the impact of Nick Faldo's sudden retirement from Masters play:

Faldo might have been pushed into the booth at Augusta somewhat prematurely by the latest batch of changes that have lengthened and tightened the course beyond the reach of aging, moderate hitters such as himself. When he got his first glimpse of the course last April, he offered a clue about his future at the Masters.

"I can't play it now," he said. "I'm just here for fun. I can't compete on a course like this, but fortunately I know that I have three jackets in the locker room, so that's fine by me."

As for some of the changes, Faldo wasn't afraid to be critical. Having those three green jackets earns him the license to be critical without fear of retribution, just as other multiple winners and club members Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer enjoy. Faldo called the changes to the tee shot on No. 11 "a little heavy-handed," with the dramatic alterations making the hole "not the same by miles, and it's a shame."

"I'll be smiling and laughing in another 10 years' time, when all these pine trees have grown up," he said last April. "It will be a scream sitting up here drinking pina coladas and watching them thread it through the Augusta needle."

Faldo certainly won't be drinking cocktails from the tower above the 18th green, but whether or not he will be free to be that candid on the air with his say-no-evil colleagues at CBS remains to be seen. Faldo is a man not easily muzzled.

"I duck and dive and go with the flow each week," Faldo said. "If you knew what you were going to get every week, then there's no point in having me, I guess. ... I'm respectful. I'm not going to beat on the guys but I think I call it pretty fair and square."