"Year Later, Augusta National changes no longer blasted"

masterslogo.gifWhat was it Colbert said recently about the USA Today? Oh right, it's a "Denny's placemat, with news."

Anyway menu writer Jerry Potter has won this site's inaugural Hootie Johnson Trophy for pre-Google-mail-it-in-journalism, which goes to the golf scribe most willing to write anything that keeps their primo Masters press room seat.

You may recall that I wondered early in the week if anyone would still defend the silly tree planting and even sillier rough despite criticism from some pretty big names.  Reader Michael spotted this peach.

Here's the headline and link to the award winner: Year later, Augusta National changes no longer blasted.

A year ago Gary Player was one of the most severe critics of the changes made to Augusta National.

Monday, three days before his 50th Masters, he's quoting Winston Churchill and praising the wisdom the club used in lengthening the course to 7,445 yards, 155 yards more than in 2005 and 560 yards longer than in 2001.

"Winston Churchill so aptly said, 'Change is the price of survival,' " Player says, noting that golfers of the future will be bigger and stronger. "(Augusta National has) done a brilliant job. The guys are hitting exactly the same clubs now that we used to hit to the greens."

Here's the best part:

A year after Phil Mickelson won The Masters at 7 under par, there are no more claims that golf's cathedral has been disgraced, that only the long hitters in the field can win, that it's not the same golf course Bobby Jones built and the place where the greats of the game earned victories.

7-under won. All is well with the world. Wow, deep!

This is beautiful. Geoff Ogilvy is used to verify that the changes are good. Yes, the same guy who eloquently criticized it just a few days ago.

"People get uncomfortable with change," U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy says. "It's a perfectly fair golf course. If you're below the hole on your approach shots, it's perfectly fair. If you're above the hole, it's completely unfair. But it's your fault if you're above the hole."

The short game — pitching, chipping and putting — always has been key to winning The Master. Five of the last six tournaments have been won by Mickelson and Tiger Woods, masters of the short game.

"Length off the tee is a bonus," Ogilvy says, "but it's not the be-all and end-all. You have to have a great short game, too."

It rambles on from there, but of course to say that the criticism has ended is surprising considering the person who has won the most Masters ever just signed off on a commentary blasting the changes.