AUGUSTA, Ga. – Golfweek Senior Writer Jeff Rude and I, both gamblers at heart, probably have covered more than 80 majors together, and we’re big on finding the ‘omen’ bet. As in, an early sighting in town across the pond at an Open Championship, perhaps somebody spotted on your plane (again, mostly for the Open), maybe a street sign or two.
Monday morning in Augusta, heading out for an early coffee, my first sighting? Agent Rocky Hambric. OK, so maybe Hambric won’t be fitted for a green jacket this week, but follow along:
Rocky was out to grab a couple of coffees, including a tall latte to help wake up one client who’d had a hectic last 24 hours: Martin Laird. Laird shot a blistering 9-under 63 to come from behind and capture the Valero Texas Open on Sunday in San Antonio, grabbing the final available spot into the 77th Masters. Instead of heading to his residence in Arizona and having a free week, Laird instead found himself on a Valero charter heading into Augusta, touching down about 10 p.m. last night.
When Laird got to Hambric’s rental house late Sunday, staying up to await his arrival was a fellow Scotsman – one Sandy Lyle, another Hambric client. Lyle also had a nice little piece of information that should accelerate Laird’s thinking as he readies for third go-around at Augusta National: Twenty-five years ago, Lyle won the final PGA Tour stop before Augusta – the KMart Greater Greensboro Open in North Carolina – and followed it up by winning the Masters.