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This just in: Newly-jacketed Masters champ Trevor Immelman will deliver the Top 10 list tonight (Monday) on the “Late Show with David Letterman.”

Let’s see if the the writers over there feel the need to recycle Zach Johnson’s “Even I’ve never heard of me” line from last year.

– Eric Soderstrom
Posted April 14

Editor’s Note: William Lanier is a 39-year-old Augusta, Ga., resident who played college golf at LSU with David Toms. He is caddying for Toms this week at the Masters and will chronicle the duo’s daily happenings on’s Masters Blog.

AUGUSTA, Ga. – I am a honestly disappointed to be writing the last entry of the week. My whole life I’ve loathed writing. I guess I never really thought I was any good, so I avoided it at all costs. However, writing this blog has been a blast. It’s amazing what comes out when your heart is into it.

Yesterday’s conditions at Augusta were like Ralph Macchio trying to catch a fly with chop sticks in Karate Kid. It was like trying to decipher the meaning of some cave painting from a million years ago. Tougher than Chinese calculus. Choosing the right club to hit was, at best, a coin toss. David and I looked at one another a few times yesterday and just laughed. We had no clue. Miguel Angel Jiminez did, however. It was maybe the best round of golf I’d ever seen. He shot 4-under 68 with an eagle on the par-4 7th, birdies at Nos. 14-15, and a chip-in birdie at 18. His lone blemish was a three-putt bogey on No. 5. He went from 36th place to 8th. Talk about passing the world.

As for David’s round, he never could get any type of momentum, which was the case most of the week. He missed a 4-foot birdie attempt on No. 2, just missed hitting a great shot at No. 6 by a foot, just missed making birdie at 8, just missed clearing the creek at 13, which led to David’s only “dreaded other” – triple bogey, and just missed birdie at 15. He did roll in a 30-foot birdie putt on 16 and got the full effect of the gallery reaction after that one went in.

Unfortunately, another “just missed” closed out the round at 18 as a 6-foot par putt slid by the hole for a bogey. All that totaled up for an 80. David was not happy but did keep perspective.

The Masters is a challenge and everyone knows that. It’s ironic that the players are relieved when the week is over because it’s so draining, yet I guarantee you many are already looking forward to the first week in April 2009. I know I am, no matter what capacity I will be involved with it.

All in all, it was an amazing week, an absolute privilege to be a part of an event of this magnitude and an honor to caddie for a true gentleman golfer. David was respectful to everyone around him and, maybe more importantly, also tolerated me – a journeyman professional golfer, former club pro, yardage book technician and salesman, coffee table book illustrator and first-time Maters caddie.

Thank you David Toms for the opportunity to work for you and for the week of my life!

I guess I must have done a decent enough job because David is dragging me down to Hilton Head for the Verizon Heritage. Hope everyone has enjoyed the blogs this week. I’ve had a blast writing them.

– William Lanier
Posted April 14

AUGUSTA, Ga. – The Masters isn’t all azaleas, pimento cheese sandwiches and lazy strolls through the pines. There’s a dark, desolate place called “the bullpen” and it’s exactly as it sounds.

It’s a small section of Augusta National real estate roped off behind the 18th green and along the walkway between the ninth green and the 10th tee. It’s divided into two sections to contain electronic media in one half, print media in the other. It’s purpose: To grab golfers who might not otherwise enter the cozy confines of the media center immediately after they sign their scorecards and before they have a chance to flitter off to their pampered worlds.

Another appropriate nickname is “the scrum” as the mob of ink-stained wretches often pack together and up against the ropes to gather a few nuggets of wisdom. The irony is these precious soundbites usually are recorded by course officials and transcribed for all to use, so there’s not exactly any scoops or world-shattering news to be collected.

Given it’s location, it can still be a neat place to hang out. Here are four amusing tidbits from Sunday afternoon (at least I found them amusing):

• The usual cheers and chants were audible as Tiger Woods made his way to the 10th tee and then quickly subsided. One lone voice then screamed out “Go Stewart!” as Woods’ playing partner, Stewart Cink, followed well behind. The lone person to cheer on Cink? Jodi Ames, wife of Stephen Ames, who stopped by the bullpen for a quick TV interview.

• With his reserved demeanor, boyish appearance and toothy smile it occurred to me that Paul Casey is England’s version of Matt Damon. Casey should have served as Damon’s body double in “The Legend of Bagger Vance” in order to improve that film’s horrible golf scenes (the rest of scenery, however, was spectacular).

• Something of a post-round meltdown by the oft-injured Arron Oberholser produced these gems: “I did nothing good today, I didn’t enjoy one shot today and I enjoyed very few shots this week. I'm just burnt out.” He continued: “I don’t care about top 50 anymore, I don’t care about coming back to the Masters, I don’t care about getting in any of the majors. I just want to be healthy. I’ll take healthy and on the Nationwide Tour right now versus playing out here constantly hurt.”

• Little action on Sunday resulted from Trevor Immelman seeming to ho-hum his way to a green jacket. So while we were standing around complaining about the lack of action one of my media brothers summed it up perfectly. “This is as boring as watching men fish in a farm pond with nightcrawlers and a bobber,” he said.

I can’t say I agreed with him. After all, it’s still the Masters.

– Scott Hamilton
Posted April 13

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Just got the nod for an 8:02 a.m. tee time Monday morning at Augusta National where I'll get a quick look at Amen Corner, going off the 10th tee first. It's just one of those gracious little perks the Green Jackets hand out each year to a select group of media via a blind draw.

I'm more excited about this than I was about Christmas during my formative years. Can't imagine the butterflies I'll be feeling on the first tee. And no, there won't be an ensuing report about how many swats it takes me to get around the place. It's about the experience, not about the score!!!

– Jay A. Coffin
Posted April 13

AUGUSTA, Ga. – When you think of players that Augusta National suits, one modern-day guy that would seem to be a fit is Adam Scott. He certainly doesn't lack for power. But Scott, 27, will be leaving Augusta yet again later tonight having not been a factor at the Masters – or any major to this point, for that matter.

That's a little perplexing considering he's the No. 8 player in the world.

Scott tied for ninth in his first Masters in 2002 and has not cracked the top 10 since. Here's a stat that's even more headscratching: Heading into today's final round of the National, Scott has competed in 25 Masters rounds and has yet to break 70.

– Jeff Babineau
Posted April 13

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Ben Crenshaw proved to me here why he deserves the nickname “Gentle Ben.”

I’ve only ever introduced myself to Crenshaw once, way back in the early 1990s. I haven’t had much chance to talk to him in the intervening years. Yet the two-time Masters winner remembered me by name when I spoke to him on Friday.

He called me by my first name when I asked him for his reaction to playing companion Michael Thompson’s unselfish act on the 15th hole, when the University of Alabama player called a one-stroke penalty on himself.

I sort of did a double take up from my notebook when I heard my name. I wasn’t convinced Crenshaw had uttered it, and hurried back to my notebook to take down Crenshaw’s words.

It wasn’t until we were done talking that I realized he’d remembered me.

“It’s always a pleasure to talk to you, Alistair,” Crenshaw said. “It’s good to see you again. How are you doing?”

I was flabbergasted. In an age when some professionals remind me of Saran Wrap – all wrapped up in themselves – it was gratifying to find a player asking after my well being.

Not all of today’s players are totally immersed in their own little worlds, but there are many who could learn from Gentle Ben.

– Alistair Tait
Posted April 12

Editor’s Note: William Lanier is a 39-year-old Augusta, Ga., resident who played college golf at LSU with David Toms. He is caddying for Toms this week at the Masters and will chronicle the duo’s daily happenings on’s Masters Blog.

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Not much happened today. Talk to y’all tomorrow.

No, just kidding! Another day in paradise, right? Matt Blair (giving you some props here, Bubba) asked where I go from here after tomorrow. I told him everything else for the rest of my life is DOWNHILL. How do you top this week?

After scarfin’ down breakfast, I went into a phone booth this morning and put on my white, Caddie No. 24 Uni-suit. David and I headed for the 1st tee at 11:10 a.m., and it began to rain, and continued on and off for most of the front nine. Then the bottom dropped out as we approached the ninth green.

After a 45-minute rain delay, the weather was ideal – calm and peaceful.

David was 1 over for the day on No. 9, but after I “convinced” him to hit a 9-iron on his approach, my man hit it to 6 feet and made birdie. The back nine was full of lot of quality shots with several near misses. He even had a three-putt par on the 13th after hitting the prettiest 4-iron you’ll ever see. Overall, David really hit the ball well today. He just didn’t get much out of it. Maybe tomorrow.

I almost forgot – we were paired today with Sandy Lyle, the 1988 Masters champ, and good, fun-loving chap from Scotland. His son Stuart is caddying for him. Neat kid. He even gave me an Augusta National Golf Club chocolate bar which can be found in your local Masters souvenir shop. Not sure the cost of the chocolate but it good. Sandy had a tough day. He posted a 78.

Tomorrow is Masters Sunday. I can’t wait!

– William Lanier
Posted April 12

AUGUSTA, Ga. – I've said it before: Miguel Angel Jiminez may be the coolest cat in professional golf. That much was evident by the way he started Saturday's third round by making his way around Augusta National with a non-competing marker (Augusta National member Jeff Knox) in about 4 hours.

That awesome ponytail, his ability to stroll around with a stogie as big as my arm clinched between his teeth or that killer '70s 'stache he's sporting, he's definitely got his own look. That in itself is impressive in this age of robot golfers whose individuality is only reflected by the brand to which they've sold their services. The shame of it is few people on this side of the Atlantic Ocean even know his name or the fact he's a pretty darn good golfer, as his 14 wins on the European circuit will attest.

I can't wait to see how the Bluegrass State receives him in September when he arrives for the Ryder Cup. Usually the only ponytails you see in those parts are at Churchill Downs, not Valhalla.

– Scott Hamilton
Posted April 12

I know this is the Masters blog, but in other golf news … Lorena Ochoa just posted her third consecutive 7-under 66 at the Corona Championship in Mexico. She’s carded one bogey in 54 holes and leads Inbee Park by 5 shots.

For those keeping score at home, Ochoa is on the verge of winning her fourth tournament in five starts.

Woods isn’t the only one putting together a special season.

– Beth Ann Baldry
Posted April 12

AUGUSTA, Ga. – I love Trevor Immelman’s swing. It’s simple, compact and efficient. Gary Player, though, loves it more. Player says nobody playing golf today has a better swing than Immelman, going so far to add the young South African’s move is the “closest that I’ve seen to Ben Hogan, and I’ve always thought Ben Hogan was the best striker of the ball.”

The implication that Immelman is golf’s best ballstriker since Hogan not only is not right, it is a slap at Player’s good friend Jack W. Nicklaus, among others. Nicklaus was so good that he led the Tour in ballstriking each of the first four years the PGA Tour recorded such a statistic. And that was in 1980-83, when Nicklaus’ age was 40-43.

These days Joe Durant has dominated the ball-striking category, finishing in the top six seven times in 1999-06 and leading again this year, as he did twice before.

Gary Player has a wonderful spirit and sets a great example in many ways, but he is prone to hyperbole. The Immelman quote is the latest because the number of strikers better than Immelman since the Hogan era runs deep and includes many who have actually won major championships. There’s a difference between ball-striking and clutch ball-striking.

Based on statistics and observation, one man’s list also includes Johnny Miller, Hal Sutton, Fuzzy Zoeller, Kenny Perry, Lee Trevino, Nick Price, David Duval, Tiger Woods, Robert Allenby, Nick Faldo, Sergio Garcia, Colin Montgomerie, Tom Watson, Fred Couples, Boo Weekley and Woody Austin.

When Durant ranked first in ball-striking in 2006, Immelman was 26th in his breakout season. The South African slipped to 71st last year and currently ranks 38th.

– Jeff Rude
Posted April 12

AUGUSTA, Ga. – As forecast, the rains washed into this corner of Georgia halting play at 1 p.m. with the leaders still waiting to tee off. It’s always tough second-guessing the judgment of the green jackets, but we have to wonder why we couldn’t have teed off a tad earlier? We know, TV wags the dog, but we don’t have to like it.

– Rex Hoggard
Posted April 12

Editor’s Note: William Lanier is a 39-year-old Augusta, Ga., resident who played college golf at LSU with David Toms. He is caddying for Toms this week at the Masters and will chronicle the duo’s daily happenings on’s Masters Blog.

Anybody looking for a Wow? How about a WOW! Like wow, how hard did the course play today. And what golf course were Trevor Immelman, Steve Flesch, Brandt Snedeker and Phil Mickelson playing? Certainly not the one that My Man played. These guys shot 68, 67, 68 and 68, respectively. It was more difficult than trying to get a ticket for, let’s say, the Masters. Nevertheless, we somehow were able to “run the gauntlet” in 2-over-par 74 and make the cut and earn the right (privelege is more like it) to play WEEKEND golf at Augusta.

Could life get better? I submit NOT! David struggled most of the day with really no momentum in his favor. In fact, he was getting zero love for several quality shots that he hit. A six iron to 7 feet on No. 4 went unrewarded after the birdie attempt went abegging. A 12 foot birdie try was declined on No. 8. At the apex of “Amen Corner,” hole 12, his third reasonable go for bird was REEEEEJECTED from 12 feet. That had a lot to do with a bogus read he got from some guy named “Lanier.” My fault Dave!

You wouldn't think that things could get worse but they did. After an ideal tee ball on the 13th he only had 192 yards left to the front of the green with helping wind. Yes, big time GREEN LIGHT! Well he pulls out a 4 iron and made a sacrifice into the stream guarding the green. A penalty shot, a wedge and two putts later and PRESTO, instant bogey. Just add one Titleist ProV1 to the watery ditch and there you go. It appeared that things were going to continue down our path of “woe.” Two missed 6-foot birdie tries on Nos. 14 and 15 certainly indicated that. However, Ole' DT bucked-up and finished the last three holes in 2 under par. A birdie from 7 feet on 16, 12 feet on 17 and an up-and-down for par from 145 yards on 18 (yes… from 145 yards) left him at 3 over and just low enough to earn that weekend privilege of WEEKEND golf. (There’s that phrase again!) Pretty stout finish; but that's the reason he has his name on his bag.

We GOLF tomorrow at 11:10. (I know golf isn’t a verb but, hey, this is my blog and my computer.) We are paired with the 1988 Masters champion Sandy Lyle. We should have a grand time with the ole' chap. If anyone is interested, today’s pre-round breakfast included bacon, grits and hashbrowns. Oh yeh, had a little Mango as well. Today’s high was 84 degrees and yes it got a bit “SWAMPY,” if you know what I mean, inside my size 48 regular uni-suit.

Doing it again tomorrow. How does something like 68 sound to you golf fans out there in cyberland. See what we can do.

– William Lanier
Posted April 11

AUGUSTA, Ga. – This just in from the “You can teach a relatively young dog from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, a new trick” department: just watched reigning champion Zach Johnson rope a fairway wood from the middle of the 13th fairway to two-putt range for a birdie. Johnson, of course, didn’t attempt to reach any of Augusta National’s par 5s in two shots last year on his way to victory. The “Z Man,” who was struggling after an opening 70, is no one-trick pony.

– Rex Hoggard
Posted April 11

AUGUSTA, Ga. – It was a moment that would have made Bobby Jones proud and a reminder that golf isn’t always about the bucks.

After putting out for an even-par 72, amateur Trip Kuehne embraced his father, Ernie, behind the 18th green. It was a long hug peppered with tears and overflowing with emotion that came with applause from a gallery that included his brother, PGA Tour player Hank, as well as Venus Williams (Hank’s girlfriend) and Dallas Cowboys Tony Romo and Terrence Newman. The 72 was solid, but included a double-bogey on the par-3 16th hole that kept Trip from making the cut. He finished his second Masters appaerance, and first since 1995, at 6 over.

– Scott Hamilton
Posted April 11

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Ian Poulter follows his Thursday ace at No. 16 with a birdie on the same hole in Round 2. The affable Englishman plays it in 3 for two days.

Pretty strong.

– Jay A. Coffin
Posted April 11

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Still early in the game and the a.m. Friday leaderboard will probably look nothing like the p.m. Sunday version, but it’s worth pointing out that frontrunner Brandt Snedeker is furthering a tradition of another sort.

Snedeker, like Zach Johnson last year, spent the days before arriving at Augusta National tuning up for the year’s first major at Sea Island (Ga.) Resort’s Frederica Country Club.

To accommodate Snedeker – as well as Johnson and Jonathan Byrd – officials dialed up the speed and firmness on one of the club’s practice greens, cutting the surfaces four times a day and rolling them two to three times a day to replicate Augusta National’s slick greens.

“We asked them what they wanted and what they told us was a place to work on their short game,” said Brannon Veal, Sea Island’s director of golf. “If you don’t have something like that it’s hard to imagine those shots.”

– Rex Hoggard
Posted April 11

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Another quick Brandt Snedeker tidbit.

Snedeker is known as one of the PGA Tour’s fastest players, his tempo is fast in his golf swing and he speaks quickly.

So, does he do anything slowly?

“I probably think slowly,” he said. “I’m not the fastest thinker in the world. I can’t think of anything that I really do too slowly.

“I don’t drive fast. That’s a bad thing.”

– Jay A. Coffin
Posted April 11

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Please allow me to break from proper English to explain this simply: I don’t know nothin’ about nothin’. I’m bad with math, awful when it comes to handling money and the most technical piece of equipment I can operate is a shovel. Even then I wouldn’t want to trust me to dig anything more than a big hole.

I do, however, know better than to label a shot “horrible” before it comes to rest, especially when the ball is still rolling on Augusta National’s notorious greens. That’s the faux pas a gentleman in the gallery suffered on Friday shortly after a Boo Weekley chip.

Weekley, who has managed to secure perhaps the only Trion-Z bracelet in the world available in camouflage, flew his approach shot over the back left of the 18th green. He sauntered up with his caddie in typical Boo fashion, pulled a wedge and gingerly chipped the ball on a line nearly parallel from a pin located more than 60 feet away on the front of the green. As soon as the ball touched down that guy voiced his disgust to his wife.

Ah, but few heard his comment thanks to the steady hum that developed and grew louder as Weekley’s ball slowly began to turn. It then caught the slope and funneled to about 18 inches from the hole. Weekley tapped in for par as that same man again turned to his wife to say “beautiful, beautiful” loud enough for everyone to hear.

– Scott Hamilton
Posted April 11

AUGUSTA, Ga. – This is how quickly things can turn around at the National. First-time Masters participant Brian Batemen was rolling along in the first group of the day (a leisurely twosome with Todd Hamilton) when he arrived to the 14th hole.

Batemen was 2 under at the time, and his second shot wasn't all that far from being close to perfect. But it trickled just over the back of the par 4. He decided to putt, and his ball barely made it on the green. From there, a missed 8-footer for par.

So instead of getting to 3 under, he drops to 1 under (the lead was at 6 under at the time). And apparently that carried over to the next hole, where he promptly made 7. Bateman shot 76, and suddenly he's in over-par numbers for the tournament.

That's how quickly things can change here.

Augusta National. Part beauty, part beast.

– Jeff Babineau
Posted April 11

AUGUSTA, Ga. – What’s the deal with the lack of foot traffic along Washington Road today? The lack of any traffic, really?

Sure the street that passes directly in front of Augusta National Golf Club still has more cars on it than a three-brand auto mall along a South Carolina interstate. And, yes, those cars are creeping along at a glacial pace.

But it’s Friday at the Masters and the vibe feels anything but Masterslike. There’s little buzz along the sidewalks – which are far from packed – and the various vendors set up along Washington Road don’t appear to be getting much business. That includes the stand selling various golf photos and – for whatever reason – a picture of Mickey Mantle (and it was set up in the center of a display, no less).

The guy getting the most business was the man preaching to anybody within earshot. But that’s because he was smart enough to set up near a pair of crosswalks in order to secure a captive audience.

It may be quiet now, but Tiger Woods isn’t on the course yet. Gotta think business is about to pick up.

– Scott Hamilton
Posted April 11

Editor’s Note: William Lanier is a 39-year-old Augusta, Ga., resident who played college golf at LSU with David Toms. He is caddying for Toms this week at the Masters and will chronicle the duo’s daily happenings on’s Masters Blog.

WOW isn’t a big enough word for how much fun golf is at the Masters. The practice rounds were fun, but today was a different animal. It was like being “a character in a story,” almost fairytale-ish. Your whole life you watch the Masters from the comfort of your La-Z-Boy and with the aid of a CBS camera angle there ain’t a better seat in the house.

Until today.

I can’t begin to tell you what an amazing feeling I got standing on the first tee and hearing the starter say, “Fore please, now driving David Toms.” Walking over the Hogan Bridge (which is covered with synthetic turf, but don’t tell anyone) was like a passage way to a fictious land. I almost felt like I was on an island and then David called me over to have me eyeball a 15-footer and it was “back to work.”

The best experience of the day came as we left the 13th tee and everyone in our group “pitted” so to speak at a “relief station” in the trees. This left me to walk up the 13th fairway BY MYSELF. Just me and my luggage. Wouldn’t sell that for all the Red Sox caps in Boston common (…and I’m a huge Red Sox fan).

As for our round, David birdied No. 1 – driver, 8-iron and an 18-foot putt. A couple of unfortunate breaks cost him two bogeys at Nos. 3 and 5. A third bogey at the 10th left DT at 2-over par. We got it back to 1 over after birdie at the 11th, made routine pars at 12 and 13, then made two feathery friends at 14 and 15. David parred the 16th but bogeyed 17 and 18 for a 73. He is tied for 34th place with lots o’ golf left.

If anybody was wondering, this caddie gig in the Masters is RRRRRRRRRRRRRREALLY FUN!

– William Lanier
Posted April 10

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Yesterday was my first trip to the Masters and first time on the grounds at Augusta National. I’m not sure if I was tossing and turning more in bed the night before or the night after. The experience was phenomenal – from the pimento cheese sandwich I ate at Amen Corner, to standing 15 feet from the pin as Arnold Palmer’s shot to the first hole on the Par 3 Course stopped 22 inches away.

The trees were taller, the grass was greener, the roars were louder and the hills were steeper than I could have imagined.

I’ll be back in Orlando this weekend, but there’s no doubt my mind will still be in Augusta.

– Dan Mirocha
Posted April 10

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Interesting scene from behind the 18th green Thursday. Mike Davis and Kerry Haigh spent the warm spring day shoulder-to-shoulder in the scoring trailer.

Davis (U.S. Golf Association) and Haigh (PGA of America) are the game’s pre-eminent golf course set-up men, and one has to wonder how the two passed the time between groups. We imagine the conversation going something like this:

“I’d bring the second cut up to 2 inches.”

“Better at 3 inches.”

“Let’s split the difference, make it an even 4 inches, and the first tee is getting moved back to Butler Cabin.”

– Rex Hoggard
Posted April 10

AUGUSTA, Ga. – There are power couples and then there are POWER couples.

Tennis star Venus Williams was strolling the Augusta National grounds Thursday with boyfriend Hank Kuehne. Hank wasn’t in the field, but was on hand to support his brother, amateur Trip Kuehne, who was making his second Masters appearance and first since 1995. The couple had a nice little moment by the clubhouse before Venus left the course.

But while that pairing may have an advantage when it comes to bombing drives or serves, it’s got nothing on the tennis-golf duo that attended the annual Golf Writers Association of America banquet the night before. That’s where Greg Norman accepted the Charlie Bartlett Award with tennis legend and fiancee Chris Everet sitting at a front table.

Evert chatted with attendees and appeared pleased to be there. Venus, however, made a beeline to Washington Road and declined to speak to any media.

Hey, I only wanted to know who designed that stunning white outfit she was wearing.

– Scott Hamilton
Posted April 10

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Aside from Venus Williams, another famous professional athlete was spotted in the Masters gallery during an afternoon stroll around Augusta National.

Dallas Cowboy quarterback Tony Romo was amongst the Tiger Woods masses for most of the day. Romo wasn’t bothered much for autographs and seemed to be relatively incognito in his mint green shirt and white Kangol hat.

Romo is a big golf nut, having attempted qualifying for the U.S. Open two years ago. He tied for 34th two weeks ago at the Azalea Invitational in Charleston, S.C.

Heard there was a Steve Spurrier sighting as well, but these eyes didn’t see the South Carolina football coach.

– Jay A. Coffin
Posted April 10

AUGUSTA, Ga. – John Rollins began his round with seven consecutive bogeys, and made eight bogeys in his first 11 holes. Not exactly the way you'd like to begin the Masters.

Better luck next year John.

– Jay A. Coffin
Posted April 10

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Just how severe are Augusta National’s notoriously fast greens? Evidently not as severe as one putting surface set up in Florida.

McArthur Golf Club, a Nick Price-Tom Fazio design in Hobe Sound, Fla., supercharged a green to roll 17.5 on the Stimpmeter – much faster than than the estimated 12.5 of Augusta National’s undulating putting surfaces.

The green was used by a few select members to prepare for this year’s Masters, including Brett Wetterich, though a course official declined to confirm who practiced on the green or if it even existed. But video of members of the McArthur grounds crew exists and is available on showing them not only testing the speed of the putting surface, but touting it as the “fastest green on earth.”

“A green that rolls 17.5 on the Stimpmeter? That’s just unfathomable,” said one caddie. “But I saw it for myself.”

– Scott Hamilton
Posted April 10

Ian Poulter became the 11th player in Masters history to ace the par-3 16th hole during Thursday’s opening round.

Poulter, a 32-year-old Englishman, had one birdie and 14 pars before holing out at the 170-yard hole. It was the first hole-in-one at the Masters since Trevor Immelman’s on No. 16 in 2005.

"The wind was a little down from the right side," Poulter said. "It was perfect for an 8-iron. I flushed it. Soon as it left the club I knew it was going to be pretty good. You just want to see it go in. An unbelievable buzz."

It nearly was ace No. 2 on the day for Poulter. On the 240-yard fourth hole, he hit a shot that landed short of the flag and ran toward the hole, barely running wide and ending up about 15 feet past. He settled for par.

Poulter finished the day at 2-under 70.

Here are the holes in one in Masters history, courtesy of

Hole No. 4
Jeff Sluman, 1992 (4-iron, 213 yards)

Hole No. 6
Leland Gibson, 1954 (4-iron, 190 yards)
a-Billy Joe Patton, 1954 (5-iron, 190 yards)
Charles Coody, 1972 (5-iron, 190 yards)
Chris DiMarco, 2004 (5-iron, 198 yards)

Hole No. 12
Claude Harmon, 1947 (7-iron, 155 yards)
a-William Hyndman, 1959 (6-iron, 155 yards)
Curtis Strange, 1988 (7-iron, 155 yards)

Hole No. 16
a-Ross Somerville, 1934 (mashie niblick, 145 yards)
Willie Goggin, 1935 (spade mashie, 145 yards)
a-Ray Billows, 1940 (8-iron, 145 yards)
a-John Dawson, 1949 (4-iron, 190 yards)
Clive Clark, 1968 (2-iron, 190 yards)
Corey Pavin, 1992 (8-iron, 140 yards)
Raymond Floyd, 1996 (5-iron, 182 yards)
Padraig Harrington, 2004 (6-iron, 177 yards)
Kirk Triplett, 2004 (6-iron, 177 yards)
Trevor Immelman, 2005 (7-iron, 177 yards)
Ian Poulter, 2008 (8-iron, 170 yards)
(Note: a-amateur)

– Matt Severance
Posted April 10

Ian Poulter sounded like he was describing a good night at the pubs. He was really referring to his ace on No. 16 Thursday.

“It was a great buzz,” Poulter said. “The hairs on the back of your neck were standing out.”

Poulter’s buzz may have lasted a little too long. He made bogey on the next hole, saying adrenaline played a part in his approach that flew the green. It was his only bogey Thursday.

“It was pretty much a flawless ballstriking round of golf,” he said. “Two under par isn’t a true reflection. It’s probably one of the best rounds of golf I’ve ever played.”

– Sean Martin
Posted April 10

AUGUSTA, Ga. – I don't know much about anything, but I do know this through continuous personal experience: Small talk can end up making you feel like an idiot.

The latest such episode happened today in the Masters merchandise store when a friend introduced me to his mother. So I asked the nice woman a question that I will never ask again: “Is this your first Masters?”

“Oh, no!” she shot back quickly. “I believe it's my 43rd.”


“That might be the dumbest question I've ever asked, and I've asked many of them,” I said. “I ask if this is your first and you say 43. How's my luck?”

“Actually I started coming 45 years ago but missed a couple of years,” she said. “When we first bought tickets, the tournament was trying hard to get people to buy them. They cost $20 then and we didn't think we could afford them then but bought two. Now I wish we had bought 10.”

– Jeff Rude
Posted April 10

AUGUSTA, Ga. – And the winner of the 2008 Masters is … are you ready for this? (Hint: It's not Tiger Woods.)

Chris DiMarco. That's right, Chris DiMarco.

Oh, not that little pro-am in Georgia. I'm talking about the inaugural Sugarloaf Masters, staged Wednesday at Sugarloaf Mountain Golf and Town Club in Minneola, Fla., not far from Orlando.

A bunch of those Tour fellas from Orlando who weren't able to play among the bright magnolias in Georgia this week gathered Wednesday at Sugarloaf, a terrific, rolling new Coore-Crenshaw layout that opened earlier this year. DiMarco, who lost the 2005 Masters (that 'other' one) to Tiger Woods in a heartbreaking playoff, finally broke into the Masters 'win' column at Sugarloaf by shooting 5-under 67, edging Garrett Willis and Fulton Allem by a shot.

No word on what he'll serve at next year's Champions Dinner.

– Jeff Babineau
Posted April 10

AUGUSTA, Ga. – We welcome a new, open Masters Tournament. The world now enjoys first-tee-to-18th-green coverage and, starting this year, those on the other side of Washington Road got to see the Par-3 Contest, one of the most unique events in the game.

How far has Augusta National come in the multi-media age? Consider Jack Nicklaus’ response to when he was asked if he ever watched the tournament on TV as a youngster.

“Before I started playing the Masters we had a 6-inch black and white TV with three channels, and the Masters wasn’t on any of them,” Nicklaus smiled.

– Rex Hoggard
Posted April 10

Editor’s Note: William Lanier is a 39-year-old Augusta, Ga., resident who played college golf at LSU with David Toms. He is caddying for Toms this week at the Masters and will chronicle the duo’s daily happenings on’s Masters Blog.

What a difference a day makes. Talk about a “Chamber of Commerce Day.” The weather was unbelievable – probably 78 degrees and mostly sunny. I definitely put on some sunscreen today.

David and I met this morning at 9 a.m.; after I had wolfed down bacon, eggs and grits in the “caddyshack.” Talk about some good eatin’. Anyway, enough about my pregame meal. David hit a “small bag” of balls and we met up with Johnson Wagner and Drew Weaver on the 10th tee at 9:45. We played with them Monday, so we knew it would be fun. They are both great guys!

As we went around the back nine it was evident that the course was beginning to dry out. Tee shots were getting a little more roll and approach shots into the greens weren’t quite as receptive as Monday and Tuesday. Nevertheless, it is still a long golf course. David hit a solid drive on the 11th (White Dogwood) and still had 225 yards to the hole. Welcome to Augusta; thanks for coming.

He hit a 3-iron to the right edge of the green and safely two-putted for a par. What every player in the field would’nt give for four pars on 11.

Probably the best part of the day came when our group reached the 16th hole (Redbud). Over the years an unwritten tradition has evolved where the players are enticed by the patrons to skip their tee shots across the pond. It is neat to see. No one in the group was successful, but Wagner came close to hitting a turtle on his attempt.

We finished our round at 12:30 p.m. and broke for lunch. Around 1:30 I took David’s son Carter to the caddy shack to get fitted for his white jump suit. David had given me the afternoon off and Carter had caddy duty. I think David was around 3 under par for the Par 3 Contest but since he let Carter sink the last putt on the 9th hole his score was not official.

I will close for the evening and leave everyone with another trivia question: What year did Craig Stadler win the Masters and whom did he defeat in the playoff to capture the green jacket?

– William Lanier
Posted April 9

AUGUSTA, Ga. – We all know that rumors in cyberspace can take on a life of their own. There was one circulating across the internet the last two days with a tale about Phil Mickelson. It was a story describing a considerable gambling debt incurred over a practice round with members at Augusta leading into this year’s Masters tournament.

A spokesman from Mickelson’s camp called the posting (which originated on a web discussion board on the site; it since has been pulled) both “baseless” and “erroneous,” so we won’t even go into detail on it. Unfortunately, atop the post, the lead-in said the item was “From a GolfWeek (sic) insider.”

Not true. As the editor of Golfweek, I can assure that nobody at our magazine or web site had anything to do with the ruse, which was posted, go figure, on April 1. This point also was made clear to two key members of the Mickelson camp on the eve of the Masters.

Never a dull moment.

– Jeff Babineau
Posted April 9

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Want to see your local PGA pro? You’d go to your golf club, right?

You wouldn’t head to a department store, would you?

Not too long ago you could do that in England. Harrods, London’s popular, upmarket department store, had a long tradition of employing a full-time PGA professional.

I discovered this while having a chat with Sandy Jones, chief executive of the British PGA.

Jones told me how at one time the British professionals didn’t allow members to work anywhere else but at golf clubs. They had to change the rules to accommodate the Harrods situation.

According to Jones, the last guy to hold the post was a man by the name of Tom Bovingdon, who died a couple of years ago.

I wondered at the sort of commercial disadvantage Bovingdon faced at not being able to capitalize on disgruntled golfers coming off the course after having nightmare round.

Still, at least he probably didn’t have to listen to a hole-by hole litany as often as peers working at golf clubs did.

– Alistair Tait
Posted April 9

AUGUSTA, Ga.–We all know it can be better to be lucky than good. On Wednesday at Augusta National, Martin Kaymer was both.

Kaymer, 23, playing in his first Masters, went to the 10th tee to play a practice round with fellow German Bernhard Langer, a two-time champion. It just so happened that a couple of other players also wanted to tee off then. So Langer asked Kaymer if he was OK with playing with the two others.

Their names are Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

“Oh yeah, please!” Kaymer told Langer.

And so Kaymer played nine holes with three men who have won a total of 11 green jackets.

“Pure luck,” the young German said.

But he showed some pure skill, too, particularly at the par-3 16th. After Player hit a tee shot to within 3 feet of the hole, Kaymer stuck it to 2 feet. Then the group moved to the front of the tee box, where tradition calls for players to try to skip a shot onto the green.

Kaymer skipped his to 3 feet.

“It’s tough to put it into words,” he said of the nine-hole experience. “It was amazing. It was so great playing with legends.”

– Jeff Rude
Posted April 9

AUGUSTA, Ga. – The big tree behind the clubhouse, of course, is the networking epicenter of the Masters. Players, instructors, caddies, officials, agents, equipment manufacturers and the news media mix there all day.

And every day every person runs into the same situation: Seeing someone whose face you recognize but whose name you can't quickly recall.

As a result, a phenomenon we shall call the Badge Glance comes into play. That's when someone says hi and shakes you hand and acts excited to see you again–and then glances down at your badge to reel in your name.

I got Badge Glanced today by a PGA Tour official that I once criticized mightily in print. That hurt my feelings because, really, isn't someone supposed to remember you when you rip them in print?

One other thing about the Badge Glance: It's dangerous business to call someone the name you see on his badge because you might come across as disingenuous. That's because many movers-and-shakers like instructors and some agents can't get clubhouse-access credentials and have to borrow a family badge from an associate who is playing in the tournament.

That's why Butch Harmon walks around with a badge that reads, "Phil Scott."

– Jeff Rude
Posted April 9

AUGUSTA, Ga. – The Nationwide Tour often bills itself as the second-best professional tour in the world, a claim the PGA European Tour would certainly contest. But if you looked at this year’s Masters field there could be an unlikely contender for that title.

Champions Tour president Rick George was scurrying around Augusta National on Wednesday, keeping an eye on the large contingent from his circuit playing this week. Ten current Champions Tour players are in the field, all playing on exemptions as past winners. That number swells to 11 if you count Larry Mize, who will become eligible for the senior circuit when he turns 50 in September. The 11 players have a combined 335 years of experience playing in the Masters and 16 victories.

Here’s the twist: The vets may not be making just a ceremonial showing. Four of them made the cut last year (Sandy Lyle, Craig Stadler, Ben Crenshaw and Fuzzy Zoeller) and a few folks are even saying Bernhard Langer, who’s in his first full season on the Champions Tour, has been playing well enough of late to perhaps contend for a third green jacket.

– Scott Hamilton
Posted April 9

Have you seen the weather report for Augusta this weekend?

While scoring conditions should be should be good on Thursday, according to (partly cloudy, high of around 80, little wind), some clouds are forecast to roll into Augusta Friday morning.

The second round should be a little warmer and cloudier and a tad windier than Thursday. Playing conditions should still be acceptable.

Saturday’s forecast is more ominous. The high temperature is expected to drop 14 degrees from Friday to about 72 with a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms.

The rain is forecast to be out of the area by Sunday, but it’s expected to be windy – around 20-25 mph – and cooler (high of 64).

Does this favor Tiger Woods? Tiger certainly doesn’t need any favors at Augusta National, but the possibility of having to play more than 18 holes (because of potential Saturday delays) in windy conditions on Sunday would seem to play right into Woods’ hands, just as it did in 2005.

– Matt Severance
Posted April 9

Editor’s Note: William Lanier is a 39-year-old Augusta, Ga., resident who played college golf at LSU with David Toms. He is caddieing for Toms this week at the Masters and will chronicle the duo’s daily happenings on’s Masters Blog.

Day 3: Tuesday, April 8

We had another chilly morning and another weather forecast missed by Mr. Meteorologist. It's April in Augusta, and it should be warm. Thank goodness again for my handsome white suit. It kept me warm.

David and I met at 10 a.m. and went to the range to loosen up. He told me we’d be playing with Vaughn Taylor, an Augusta native, like myself. We teed off the front and ended up just playing nine. Vaughn is really driving the ball well. He could be someone to watch for. A top-16 finish last year can only give him more confidence. He hit every fairway, and oh yeah, he can roll a bowling ball into a thimble.

As for my “boss,” he’s looking pretty good. He is really starting to hit the ball well! He knifed a 5-iron on No. 6 to about a foot. It got the gallery going a little; we heard “Geaux Tigers” and “Tiger Bait, Tiger Bait” chants. (These are chants often heard at LSU athletic events, you know, the 2007 BCS National Champions). As for David’s short game; he’s got the touch of a “Rocket Surgeon” or is it a “Brain Scientist”? Let’s go with “Brain Surgeon”. David has great feel. He hit some crafty bump-and-runs from behind the sixth green with a 3-wood and he put on a bunker clinic from the back bunker on No. 7.

We finished playing at 1:30 and got some lunch. I think David ate with some fellow competitors in the clubhouse and I ate with Carl Spackler and Danny Noonan in the caddyshack, for those of you who are “Caddyshack” movie buffs. If you are interested, I had a ham sandwich on rye and chased it with 3 chocolate chip cookies. Water was my beverage of choice.

Tomorrow we are looking to play the back nine around 9:30 a.m. and then off to our respective “lunch rooms” for a bite before the Par-3 Contest.

– William Lanier
Posted April 8

AUGUSTA, Ga. – If you think players don't do some deep introspective thinking heading into the Masters, think again. Irishman Padraig Harrington, who broke Europe's drought in the majors last summer at Carnoustie, has a revamped lineup of clubs as he heads into the season's first major.

For one, he added a Wilson Tw7 64-degree wedge. But instead of dropping a wedge out of his bag, he dropped his 9-iron instead. That means he's carrying 4-iron through 8-iron to go along with four wedges (pitching, gap, lob and "superlob," if you will).

In order to make up for the new gap created by not having a 9-iron, Harrington had the pitching wedge bent a little strong, to 46.5 degrees. The 64-degree wedge is designed for play around the greens, and not, say, from 60 yards out. From there, he once again will go to the 60-degree wedge, which served him well when he got up and down to save double bogey on the 72nd hole at Carnoustie in July.

Harrington also has a new driver in the bag this week, a TaylorMade Burner. What makes it a little different is that it has only 7 degrees of loft (low by today's standards) and it measures 47.5 inches. Sounds like Padraig is ready to let the Big Dog eat this week in trying to keep up with the game's power brokers.

– Jeff Babineau
Posted April 8

AUGUSTA, Ga. – They say the Masters doesn’t start until the back nine on Sunday, but the Masters moments begin the minute you walk through the gates.

Arrived on property at noon, sat through a Zach Johnson press conference, ate a prolonged lunch on the clubhouse verandah, loitered under the legendary oak tree for an hour or so and wandered out to watch the Tour’s newest champion (Johnson Wagner) play a practice round with one of the Tour’s most likable champions (Brandt Snedeker).

In between we unearthed a few notable early-week gems, including some insight from last year’s Tournament from Johnson’s player manager, Brad Buffoni:

“Last year, (Johnson’s wife, Kim) was just an incredibly supportive and understanding wife, doing everything she was asked. We got back to the RV at about midnight and at that point it kind of hit us. Kim handed (Johnson’s son, Will) to Zach and said something like, ‘Take care of your son. You’re not the Masters champion anymore.’”

Took two steps onto the manicured turf and realized the list of potential winners has been narrowed from 10 or 20 to five or six. Heavy rains and heavy foot traffic have already trampled the landscape into a muddy mess. More of this and by Sunday short-hitters need not apply.

There were more people watching the action around the famous oak tree from outside of the ropes than were actually participating in the proceedings. Which begs the question: when did schmoozing become a spectator sport?

– Rex Hoggard
Posted April 8

AUGUSTA, Ga. – You’d have thought players would be dying to get out on Augusta National to practice for the first major of the year. You’d expect the golf course to be packed with guys wanting to play one of the world’s best courses.

Didn’t look as if many guys were interested Tuesday morning. Augusta looked like any other under-used private club.

At 9 a.m., I decided to walk down to Amen Corner and came across only six guys in the hour I was there.

Tiger Woods was out playing on his own and was on the 15th hole. A three ball of Sergio Garcia, Nick O’Hern and Camilo Villegas were on the 14th. After that I saw Robert Karlsson on his own on the 13th, followed by a solo Jerry Kelly at 12.

After that not much. I walked up the 11th and there was no one on it.

What’s wrong with these guys? Millions of golfers around the world would kill to get on Augusta National, yet it looked like the world’s elite had to be dragged out of bed to play.

– Alistair Tait
Posted April 8

AUGUSTA, Ga. – One of the top signs you’re an amateur at the Masters? Instead of having your mug shot in the players guide, it’s a photo of your brother.

Trip Kuehne, the 2007 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, is back at the Masters for the first time since 1995. After playing a practice round Tuesday with Phil Mickelson, Hunter Mahan and fellow amateur Michael Thompson, Kuehne was alerted that his mug shot in the players guide was his brother Hank, who is not in the field this week but played here in 1999 after winning the U.S. Amateur.

“Could be worse I guess,” Trip Kuehne joked.

– Jay A. Coffin
Posted April 8

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Waffle House count: 8.

That’s the number of times the restaurant chain was spotted during an 80-mile, Monday evening drive from the Columbia, S.C., airport to Augusta.

Odds of visiting one between now and Sunday: 0.

– Jay A. Coffin
Posted April 8

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