Molinari: "It started going the other way and it has been hard to stop it."

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Derek Lawrenson of the Daily Mail looks at the rise and flatlining of Francesco Molinari, 2018 Open champion who was in contention to win the 2019 Masters.

‘People told me it would be hard to beat last year, nearly impossible in fact, but until that day at the Masters I picked it up where I left off, and then it stopped,’ said Molinari. ‘Confidence plays a big part in any sport but particularly in golf.

‘I was feeling good coming to Augusta, everything was going my way. After that, it became many little things that I didn’t do quite as well. My ball striking wasn’t as good and I didn’t putt as well. For over a year, it felt like I was pushing a boulder going upwards but then it started going the other way and it has been hard to stop it.’

Good Jeopardy Golf Question: Who Was The Last Player To Win A Major Using A Persimmon Driver

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I think most of us believe it was Davis Love at Winged Foot but he had already made the switch to metal. I’m sure James Holhauzer would have gotten it right.

The last major, as this unbylined story explains, was actually four years prior to when you might think. And you could put one in his hands today and the player in question would probably still shoot 69 and hit 12 of 14 fairways. After a good warm-up session of course.

How Nantz And Tirico Called The Final Masters Putt

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The contrast and moment is similar to trying to compare Vin Scully and Jack Buck’s calls of Kirk Gibson’s 1988 World Series home run since one legend was working television and the other legend on radio.

Jim Nantz was in Butler Cabin at that point for CBS while in the 18th hole booth Mike Tirico was working for Westwood One.

We were a little busy in the press building so I didn’t realize how long the CBS team went without saying anything: just over 2 minutes and 30 seconds. That is beyond an eternity in television history, but especially in modern TV.

For perspective, Scully went a minute after “She is gone!” before resurfacing with the brilliant “in a year that has been so improbable the impossible has happened.” Then another thirty seconds. Both eternities but Nantz and Faldo stayed quiet even longer as Tiger greeted his family and friends.

John Ourand interviewed both Nantz and Tirico about their calls and the moment was a blur for both.

“I have a hard time going through it with great detail because nothing was scripted out, and I’m not exactly sure of what I said in that entire scene at the 18th,” Nantz said.

Tirico had almost the same reaction. When I talked to him on Monday following the tournament, he had heard his final call several times from audio clips online. But immediately after the tournament, when he was asked on Golf Channel to describe his call, he couldn’t remember. “I just did it from the top of my head,” he said.

And that’s why we have embeds these days and kudos to the Masters social feed for including the full clip.

Tirico, on the other hand, could not leave Westwood One listeners listening to crowd noise, so he offered this exuberant call:

Trying To Gauge The Financial Impact Of Tiger's 2019 Masters Win

Screen Shot 2019-04-22 at 8.22.39 PM.png’s Tom VanHaaren goes pretty deep in trying to interpret numbers from Tiger Woods’s 2019 Masters win, including ratings, sales, views, impressions, etc…

Big numbers are bandied about and might prompt a pause, but these numbers do not lie:

According to CBS, the final-round coverage and encore presentation was seen by 37.2 million viewers, a 41 percent increase from 2018's live-only coverage.

The Masters tweets out video of the final putt from the champion each year. Reed's winning putt from 2018 has been viewed 393,000 times.

The same video of Woods this year, as of Monday morning, has been viewed 7.85 million times.

2019 Masters: How One Photographer Got Tiger's Iconic Reaction

So many of the best in what’s left of the photography business undoubtedly have stories galore about trying to be in the right spot for Tiger’s winning reaction. Thankfully, as with past Woods 18th green reactions, there were great images to be had from both behind the green and on the sides.

Kohilo Kinno grabbed a full frame view of Woods that became one of the magazine’s few text-free covers, though there is no story about Kinno’s image and his name is only viewable in a size 3 font. Charming.

Thankfully, Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge talked to Rob Schumacher about everything that went into getting his iconic shot that became the USA Today masthead, including luck.

Woods’ reaction was so subdued at first that Schumacher thought he might not show any emotion at all in the moments following his 15th career major victory.

“His back is to me and I’m thinking he’s not going to move and he’ll be facing the golfer’s right box,” Schumacher said. “So he made his putt. Slowly walked forward. Picked his ball up then faces toward the center of the green and I thought well, he’s not going to react. Then he slowly rotates counter clockwise and steps towards me in my box.”

2019 Masters "Quad" Supercut And Final Talley Of Shots Shown

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Two of my favorite Masters traditions arrived and one took longer than normal, but boy was it worth it: Michael David Murphy has not put together his usual Tiger Woods “supercut” of the final 18 holes, but all 72 holes of the 2019 Masters. That makes it a Quad Supercut!

You can see it all in about 14 minutes and it’s pretty mesmerizing to watch. (Embed below.)

Jeff Haggar at Classic TV Sports filed his annual tally of shots shown last Sunday and I apologize for not recognizing this always-fine piece of work. But as many have wondered, runner-up Dustin Johnson was in fact forgotten about by CBS, albeit on a Sunday when so many players put themselves into contention. Still, 10 shots for a runner-up is not many given that the telecast was Chirkinian-esque in how many shots CBS did show.

The Tiger haters will be sad to hear CBS actually showed more shots of Francesco Molinari.

CBS covered 69 of the 70 strokes from winner Tiger Woods (skipping only a tap-in putt on hole #1). Francesco Molinari actually received coverage for 70 shots. His final score of 74 included two penalty strokes, so CBS only bypassed two of his shots (a layup on 15 and his tee shot on 17). Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau were spotlighted for 59 shots each. Those four players accounted for 57% of the televised shots.

Haggar also broke the numbers down by holes shown most and one number will surprise you.

"When Open returns to Royal Portrush, tales of redemption will sweep aside reality"

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After a journalist was murdered last week and “the Troubles” seem to be at it again, Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch reminds us that The Open’s triumphant return to Royal Portrush will not be far from recent troubles or a tonic for the decades of conflict.

The Open Championship is a spoil, of sorts. Just as the Claret Jug will be held aloft by the champion golfer of the year, the Open itself will be brandished as a symbol of normalcy and progress by the very politicians whose stone-age squabbles have left Northern Ireland without a functioning government for years, whose intransigence and bigotry sent generations of Lyra McKees fleeing for airports and ferry terminals.

Self-congratulatory back-slapping by elected blowhards is so familiar a part of professional golf that it won’t really register with those who travel to Portrush. But it will be a galling spectacle for the people who must continue to live with increasing tribal tensions, sporadic violence and diminishing opportunities long after the Open caravan leaves town.

Augusta National Course Performance: Slower Greens Help Speed Up Play, Field Dismantles The Second Nine Par-5s Like Never Before

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I hopefully slipped in as much detail as possible regarding a busy week for Augusta National as a venue. Slower greens appeared to make the difference in faster play, while the new 5th almost played tougher than the 13th and 15th. And the 11th hole is still a complete affront to the philosophy of Bobby Jones and Alister MacKenzie.

Read all about it at

The Tiger Stock Market Effect Is Back, At Least For Golf Companies

From an unbylined AP story:

Apex Marketing Group, a branding consulting company, estimated the media exposure for Nike to be worth more than $22 million. Nike Inc.’s stock rose less than 1% Monday.

Shares of energy drink maker Monster Beverage Corp., a sponsor whose green logo appears on Woods’ golf bag, gained about 2%.

Other golf companies that aren’t connected to Woods also saw a boost. Club maker Callaway Golf Co.’s stock rose 1.5%. And Acushnet Holdings Corp., maker of golf balls and other golfing equipment, added 1.7%.

Sam Weinman explained the bizarre correlation between Woods success and the markets six years ago. Are we headed there again?

7.7 Overnight: 2019 Masters Scores Strong Ratings Despite Early Start

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Paulsen at Sports Media Watch has an excellent analysis of 2019 Masters final round ratings, which drew the lowest rating since 2004 but a fantastic share during the morning/early afternoon telecast expedited due to an ominous forecast. Combined with the 3.4 for the replay of the 12th hole on, and the total audience size was in line with Tiger’s 2010 return.

He writes:

Keep in mind that ratings are the percentage of homes watching a program out of the total number of television homes. Those numbers will be inevitably lower when fewer homes are watching television (as is the case during the morning).

Using the share, which is the percentage of homes watching out of the number of televisions in use, Sunday’s telecast fared much better. It had a 21 share, up 17% from last year (18) and tied with 2013 as the highest for the Masters since 2011.

An encore presentation of the final round delivered a 3.4 overnight from 3-7 PM ET. Combined, the live and encore telecasts grossed an 11.1 overnight. That would be the highest for the Masters since 2010, which marked Woods’ return to golf following his marital infidelity scandal (12.0).

Coupled with Saturday’s huge number and streaming’s erosion of ratings still appears not to have harmed the Masters.

Walking Tour Of Augusta National And Other Content


As the 2019 Masters became a whirlwind affair, I wasn’t able to keep up with all of the amazing content. The folks debuted a Masters podcast that even debuted and is queued up for me to keep savoring this year’s event for days to come.

I will selfishly start by posting my walking tour of the course, a walk I traditionally make on the weekends before settling in the Press Building (see map above…it starts at the clubhouse and goes up No. 1). The walk allows me to see all but the 4th, 5th and 12th hole locations up close and to get a sense of the wind, vibe and other conditions.

This year I was only able to do it Saturday and it took longer than normal, but generally it takes about 40 minutes and is a great way if you get to the Masters to see the entire course setting in a folding chair or grandstand.

The video was the idea of the team to accompany my essay designed to settle most general questions about how to get the most from a Masters visit. Naturally, it was an honor to share this and I hope it’s handy for years to come if you get the privilege of attending the Masters.

Another stellar piece of content, if nothing else because chef David Chang takes you so many places so rarely seen in footage, is the piece embedded below. He reveals the not-so-secret (apparently!) Stand 12 drink. He even blends Masters sandwiches, but mostly does a lovely job summing up elements of the experience. Check it out:

"Tiger Woods Showed He Was Back Not With a Shot, but With a Stare"

Screen capture from’s leaderboard clips.

Screen capture from’s leaderboard clips.

There are going to be so many moments from the 2019 Masters worth reviewing since it all seemed to happen in a blur. The birdie at 3, the entire 12th hole, the drive at 13, the tee shot at 16 and the final two tee shots jump out.

But the New York Times Bill Pennington highlighted one moment that has been under-appreciated in the analysis of the stunning 12th hole events: Tiger marching on ahead to the green as Francesco Molinari and Tony Finau dealt with their shots landing in Rae’s Creek.

Thanks to the camera view from behind the tee, we could see how Tiger make sure to do some green gardening, requested blowers to move pine needles, and in general, was prowling around to remind his competitors he was on dry land.

Pennington writes:

Woods walked over the Hogan bridge and stood defiantly on the 12th green glaring back at Finau and Molinari as they dejectedly stood on the other side of the water, rummaging through their bags for another ball and club to once again try to traverse the creek.

Woods was in their line of sight, standing with his arms crossed or one hand on his hip. He continued to stare in their direction with an expression that seemed to say: “Can you hurry up? I’ve got a tournament to win.”

We’ve always wondered if the new, kinder Woods would ever regain the edge that made him different. Sunday’s 12th hole scene confirmed the master intimidator and artful practitioner of selective gamesmanship had his mojo fully restored.

Of course, the shot played was pretty swell too given how poorly other leaders handled the 12th. Here was Tiger’s answer to John Patrick’s press conference question:

Q.  For those of us watching, 12 seemed to be the seminal moment.  When Francesco's ball went in the water, did it change anything you were thinking?  Was it always going to be over the bunker, center of the green? 

TIGER WOODS:  That's all I was concentrating on.  I had 47 over the first tongue in the bunker there, and so my number, I was hitting it 50 and just be committed to hitting it 50.  There's a reason why ‑‑ I saw Brooksy ended up short.  Poults ended up short, as well.  And so I ‑‑ when I was up there on the tee box and it was about my turn to go, I could feel that wind puff up a little bit, and it had been something ‑‑ Brooksy is stronger than I am, and he flights it better than I do, so I'm sure he hit 9‑iron and didn't make it. 

So I knew my 9‑iron couldn't cover the flag, so I had to play left, and I said, just be committed, hit it over that tongue in that bunker.  Let get out of here and let's go handle the par 5s, and I did. 

Yeah, the mistake Francesco made there let a lot of guys back into the tournament, myself included.

Where Were You Stories: 2019 Masters


There is much to mull from the 2019 Masters and posts will be flying to picking this masterpiece apart, but in the meantime I thought I’d share a fun story in hopes of hearing some of your “where were you” when Tiger Woods held off a huge cast of stars and future stars to win his fifth green jacket.

A friend of mine gathered with his neighborhood buddies and watched the final round in a garage converted into a mancave, with the door open to the street and everyone free to stand, roam, smoke, cheer, eat and watch the broadcast.

As Tiger wrapped up the win in the early afternoon when the leaders normally would be teeing off, a neighbor was driving by, pulled over and rolled down his window. The group watching said something to the effect, “how about that Masters,” to which the poor lad announced, “yep, I timed it just right, can’t wait to watch it!”

To which he was informed about tee times having been moved up and the round complete, with Tiger Woods winning. Loss of blood from the face ensued and there was the inevitable look of horror.

Mercifully for him, CBS replayed the round from the 12th hole on. And it can be relived on, or on CBS Sports Network Monday night at 8 pm ET.

Feel free to post any lively or wacky where-were-you stories and other viewing anecdotes of note, if nothing else for the archives when we celebrate the 25th anniversary in 2044.

First Roundup: Tiger Wins His Fifth Masters And 15th Major

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It was a day unlike any other…oh no, wait. It was…


Fifth Masters.

15 majors.

He’s all the way back.

Remember, this didn’t seem like it was ever going to happen again. And now 2019 may join 1960, 1986 and 1997 on the Rushmore of epic monumental years in Augusta. Let’s save that debate for this week.

I’ve just filed a few pieces for Golfweek and USA Today’s print and digital editions, but who needs sleep. Let’s go.

Doug Ferguson’s AP gamer and lead: “Tiger Woods blazing to victory in his Sunday red at the Masters, a scene once so familiar, was never more stunning.”

Steve DiMeglio’s USA Today game story.

Bill Fields at opened with the 16th hole, where Tiger last put a Masters away in 2005.

Here’s my completely not humble explanation for why I picked Woods at the beginning of the week and how he prevailed by going all Hogan on us, not worrying about chasing those FedExCup points and, as he said early this week, peak four times a year.

Will Gray captures the scene behind 18th as Tiger worked his way to victory.

David Dusek also walks among the patrons and tries to capture the sense of excitement at Augusta National.

Dan Kilbridge was out with Tiger all day and has some of caddie Joe LaCava’s reactions to the win.

Brian Wacker addresses the inevitable question now: is 18 majors back in play.

Key interviews were after the round in the Press Building, and this second—SECOND—Butler Cabin interview with Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo thanks to the early start and Tiger’s return before CBS began a final round rebroadcast.

Here is 10 minutes of press conference video, not all but most. video of Butler II here.

A Golfweek roundup of Tweets, including Jack Nicklaus’ congratulations and many other luminaries from sport and politics.

The weird Sunday start will be a footnote in the history books, but it still is worth considering how it impacted the event, writes Dave Shedloski.

Here is the lowdown on the gum. Yes, I asked but the rest of the answer about what gave him a sense of calm and confidence is ultimately more interesting.

The images are stunning, as you’d hope for a historic Masters.

The gallery is here and focuses on the 18th hole scene and aftermath.

Golf Digest’s team of Furore, Cuban and Iooss captured some beauties here.

The Augusta Chronicle’s image gallery is also worth your time.

They also put up this separate gallery of the impromptu outdoor jacket ceremony originally cancelled.

The Masters Instagram story from Sunday was outstanding with some never-before-seen moments from after the win. Get it while it lasts!

The Woods round in 3 minutes:

A Tradition We Hope To Never Replicate Again: The 2019 Masters Final Round Is Underway Early

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Winter is coming in more ways than one.

It’s a Sunday unlike any other and we sure hope this early start never happens again. With potentially extreme weather coming around 2 pm, the players will have to move quickly, an near impossibility in threesomes and windy conditions.

Saturday was an epic in terms of scoring, reports Christine Brennan. The field was 80 under par, the scoring average the lowest for a third round (70.769) and yet, the field was the largest to make the cut (65).

Amen Corner Live and other feeds are live.

So enjoy! My five wild scenarios for Golfweek consider the range of possibilities.

Assuming we crown a winner, there will be no Green Jacket ceremony outdoors.

The Masters meets Game of Thrones. Whoa.

Instant Poll: Who Will Win The 2019 Masters?


You probably know the stat by now: the last time a Masters winner came from outside the top 5: 1990

Jeff Sherman’s updated final round odds:

Here they are (and ties). Vote away! And set those alarms for some early morning golf, as the last group will tee off at 9:20 am ET, usually the time members are just sitting down for a veranda breakfast.

Who will win the 2019 Masters? free polls

ESPN's 2019 Masters Second Round Draws 3.2 Million, Down From 3.9 Last Year


Guess the Tiger factor isn’t what it used to be, or streaming is eating into overall numbers, or Masters streaming has caused a downtick? Or all of the above?

For Immediate Release:

ESPN’s Second Round Masters Tournament Telecast Attracts 3.2 Million Viewers

ESPN’s telecast of the second round of the Masters Tournament on Friday, April 12, averaged 3.2 million viewers as golf fans tuned in to watch a charge by Tiger Woods on the second nine highlighting a fierce battle of golf stars at the top of the leaderboard. The telecast aired from 3-7:45 p.m. ET from Augusta National Golf Club.

The 3.2 million average, based on Nielsen Fast National data, was ESPN’s second-largest audience for the second round since 2013, exceeded only by the 3.9 million that watched last year. The viewership average does not include the rain delay that halted play from 5:03 – 5:34 p.m. on Friday. 

Friday’s audience was up significantly from 2017 (2.6 million) and 2016 (3.0 million), the last two years that Woods did not compete in the Masters due to injuries. It also was higher than 2015 (3.0 million, with Woods in competition) and 2014 (2.5 million when Woods missed the Masters for the first time in his career). 

For the second day, the Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C., market led the nation’s metered markets with a 5.0 rating, up from the 4.6 rating in the market on Thursday for the first round. Other top 10 markets for Friday were Ft. Myers/Naples, Fla., 4.7; Minneapolis-St. Paul, 4.2; Raleigh-Durham, 4.1; Buffalo, 3.7; Indianapolis, Columbus and Cincinnati, tied at 3.4; and Tampa-St. Petersburg and West Palm Beach, tied at 3.3.