2012 Masters: The Monday awards go to . . .
The Masters is all about tradition. Continuing an honored tradition that started, well, last year, here are Monday’s award winners from the Masters.
• Longest hair award: Charlie Hoffman isn’t here, and the ponytail of Miguel Angel Jimenez remains a mystery, so Australian Jason Day is the winner by default.
2012 Masters: Monday's practice round
And so begins one of the greatest weeks in golf. Even if you can't be at Augusta National to soak up the excitement surrounding the Masters, we'll be bringing you images, starting with Monday's practice round.
• The fabulous 50s award: Former Masters champion Fred Couples, 52, honestly believes he can still win the Masters. The oldest champion, at 46, was Jack Nicklaus, although no player with 100 or more tournament rounds has a lower career Masters scoring average than Couples (71.90, compared to 71.98 for Nicklaus).
• The Phil the Thrill award: At 54, amateur Randal Lewis is something of a dinosaur in this Masters field. He got here by winning the U.S. Mid-Amateur (25 and older). That was thrill No. 1.
Then came thrill No. 2. While visiting the club last Tuesday, Lewis ran into Phil Mickelson on the range. Mickelson asked him to play a practice round that afternoon.
They quickly exchanged handwritten thank you letters. Mickelson’s said this: “8 o’clock a.m., first tee, Augusta National, Monday, April 2, be there.” He was there.
• The pep-to-his-step award: Mark O’Meara, after playing nine holes with Tiger Woods, was extravagant with his praise. “I expect him to play well here,” he told the Augusta Chronicle. “I’d be shocked if he doesn’t. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t. He’s driving the ball well. He’s powerful again. He’s got a little bit of pep to his step again coming off a victory.”
• The stay-in-school award: Webb Simpson, who examined his Wake Forest golf career. “For me, when I got to Wake Forest, I had in my mind I wanted to stay two or three years because I was hung-ho about turning pro,” Simpson admitted. “But, through two years, I had not won yet, so I realized, if I can’t beat these guys, how can I expect to be successful on Tour.
“I don’t think anybody wants to turn pro knowing that they are going to struggle. So by the time senior year came around, I was winning a few times in college, winning some amateur tournaments, and I thought maybe I could have a chance.”
• The psychologist-on-the-couch award: Hunter Mahan, who credits Canadian sports psychologist Jim Murphy with helping him to decrease the pressure and increase the enjoyment of playing tournament golf.
• The “I’d look great in a green jacket” award: Jason Day. “For me,” he said, “this is the Holy Grail to win this tournament. This is my favorite week of the year every single year.”
• The “I won’t play 10” award: PGA champion Keegan Bradley is playing in his first Masters. Here’s what he said about the 495-yard 10th hole: “The second shot is the hardest second shot to a par-4 that I’ve ever seen. You have to be so precise. If you miss long anywhere, you’re in big trouble. If the pin is on the right, and you’re right, you’re in big trouble.”
• The “I’m tired of being called a 20something” award: Hunter Mahan, the only multiple winner on the 2012 PGA Tour, turns 30 on May 17.
• The “turn on the lights, the party’s not over” award: Kyle Stanley, who engaged in an unusual conversation Monday in the media building.
Question: “What was the latest you ever were out there (on Clemson’s lighted range), or earliest?”
Stanley: “Probably 3 o’clock.”
Question: Three in the morning?
• The best-dressed award: Tiger Woods, whose wardrobe for all major championships is scripted by Nike.
“We work with our athletes a year in advance to determine what they will wear in each of the majors,” said Doug Reed, Nike Golf’s global category business director for apparel and footwear. “We sit down with them, present the upcoming new styles ... and listen to what the athlete needs as it relates to performance, technology, comfort and style.”
So Woods “will wear bold colors, stripes and gradient patterns from the Tiger Woods Collection and bring the latest technology to his Sunday Red with the Nike Ultra Lite Polo.”
Now there’s a new subject for lockerroom conversation: gradient patterns.