Editor’s note: James Achenbach is covering his 44th Masters, taking in all that Augusta National has to offer and will provide his daily awards throughout the 2014 tournament.
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AUGUSTA, Ga. – Welcome to Masters Monday.
It rained, and then it rained some more.
So, with players forced indoors, our daily major championship awards are based entirely on conversations. No golf today, Bubba.
• The “play less, enjoy it more” award goes to Steve Stricker.
“Being from where I’m from, in Wisconsin, our weather is just not that good, and I’ve never been a guy who plays a lot of tournaments back-to-back,” Stricker said. “There are some positives to being this way. I’m fresh. Poor shots don’t affect me as much, and I just give myself a break. I’m much easier on myself out on the golf course.”
• The “name that tree” award goes to Stricker, too.
“Like I said, I haven’t seen it since its disappearance (the famous Eisenhower tree that came down in an ice storm). It will be interesting to see what actions the club takes to put a medicine tree in its place. And what are they going to call it?”
• The “Don’t call it the Furyk tree” award goes to its namesake.
“The history of the tree will be missed,” analyzed Jim Furyk, “and there’s a lot of lore there, but my game definitely won’t miss it that much.”
• The Magnolia Lane Award has the name of first-time Masters participant Patrick Reed all over it.
“What was the drive like down Magnolia Lane,” Reed was asked.
“Oh, it was amazing, that’s for sure,” Reed responded. “I wanted to reverse and do it again.”
• The “What’s Magnolia Lane?” award is reserved for Australian Matt Jones, who got into the Masters after winning the Shell Houston Open on Sunday.
“I didn’t drive down it,” Jones admitted. “I had no idea where I was going. I followed (Kevin) Stadler. I followed him to the right (Magnolia Lane is to the left). So I never drove down Magnolia Lane.”
• The Soothsayer Award is another recognition for Jones, who issued two predictions to his caddie — he would convert a lengthy birdie putt on the 72nd hole, then he would sink a very difficult chip shot for another birdie on the first playoff hole.
“I actually told him,” Jones revealed. “When I’m chipping well, I feel I can make any chip I look at. That’s something I’ve worked really hard on with my coach.”
• The “how to raise a young golfer” award is reserved for the articulate Jason Day.
“These days, kids have a mental coach, strength coach, swing coach, maybe a short-game coach,” Day said. “(They need a team) to make sure they are improving and competing and playing well.”
• The “How to compliment an old Tiger” award also goes to the 26-year-old Day, who is a man for all seasons and all generations.
“He (Tiger Woods) is 38 now. He’s an old man. It’s a little sad seeing him hurt. He’s changed the way we look at golf as professionals. I was talking earlier about having strength coaches and mental coaches — he’s turned the sport into an athletic sport.”
• The amateur intimidation award.
“I was paired on Thursday with Jack (Nicklaus) in a twosome at 2:45 or something like that,” recalled Craig Stadler, who at the time was the U.S. Amateur champion. “I was staying up in the Crow’s Nest. I got up about 7 o’clock, read the paper, went out about 8:30, hit balls, took a shower, read the other paper, went out and putted, came back, had something to eat, and hit balls again. Long story short, I think I hit balls for the fourth time before I could finally walk up to the first tee.
“I introduced myself and he looked me right in the eye and he says, ‘Well, I know who you are.’
“I just went, ‘Really?’ This guy knows who I am. And I was done. He teed off first, I teed off second, and I teed off second on every single hole. Didn’t beat him a hole — 67 to, I think, 79, and we were done.”
Of course, Stadler also deserves a major comeback award, because he went on to become a Masters champion.