And now for my daily awards from Masters Thursday . . .
• The poetics award — “I think that I shall never see, a golfer as lovely as a tree” — is shared by Arnold Palmer and Gary Player.
Regarding Augusta National’s Eisenhower tree, which came down after an ice storm, Palmer said, “I think I would put a tree right back where the tree was, and try to get it about as similar as it was when it was taken out.”
Meanwhile, Player countered, “I think there’s never been a tree that’s been so significant in golf. Personally I am anti-trees in the middle of fairways or on fairways, the same as I’m against bunkers in the middle of fairways. I think the tree, as much respect as I had for the name attached to the tree, I think it’s best that the tree does not be put back.”
Ever friends, ever rivals.
• The “I’ll take eight” award goes to USGA executive director Mike Davis.
When the subject turned to old-fashioned golf bags and the fascinating MacKenzie Golf Club Co. of Portland, Ore., Davis admitted, “I’ve got eight of them, lots of different colors.”
Current cost of the all-leather original MacKenzie Walker: $975.
• The “Man in the mirror” award is perfect for Fred Couples.
“Am I the oldest looking 54-year-old out here?” Couple asked in jest. Actually Masters competitors Tom Watson, Craig Stadler, Ian Woosnam and Sandy Lyle are older.
• “And the first will suffer” or something like that:
Stewart Cink wasn’t fond of his position in the first official group of the day, right behind the ceremonial tee shots hit by Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Arnold Palmer.
“Well, that (the Big Three) didn’t have much of an impact on our play early on, but what did was the cold — we were the first players in this year’s Masters. Every hole, whoever hit first was, like, the first guy to hit from that tee. There was the first guy to hole out, the first birdie, all that. So it just kind of felt a little bit strange out there.”
Weird, all right, Stewart.
• The “Feel good, play bad” award goes to Rickie Fowler.
“It was probably one of the worst tee shots I hit, but probably the best I felt on the tee,” recounted Fowler about his drive on the 1st hole. “It was kind of the story of the day. I didn’t drive the ball well … but I’m feeling really comfortable on the golf course.”
• The truth award was claimed by Jonas Blixt.
Explaining how he hit a low approach shot and made birdie on the par-5 13th, Blixt admitted, “I hit it really skinny. We were really worried it was not going to carry the creek. No, we did not try to hit it that low. Absolutely not.”
• The self-bashing award goes to Craig Stadler.
“I played like a moron,” said Stadler, who shot 82. “My whole game stinks.”
• The cliche award belongs to Mark O’Meara.
“I don’t think the golf ball, in fairness, knows how old you are.” O’Meara said.
On second thought, some golf balls have definitely been known to favor younger golfers.
• The “Okay, I’ll answer your dumb question” award has Steven Bowditch written all over it.
“How did you feel on the first tee,” Bowditch was asked.
His reply: “I was pretty good. I had applause. I was quite nervous. But I didn’t really expect to fall asleep on the first tee.”