Woods a late arrival for Monday practice
AUGUSTA, Ga. – The fans lined up behind the wooden gates along the first fairway, waiting for 8 a.m. so they could go onto the course for the first practice round of the Masters. That’s usually the best time to see Tiger Woods.
But he wasn’t on the first hole, or even the second hole.
Bubba Watson was among the first to go off, no doubt looking for Woods to join some elite company. By midmorning, photographers were on the prowl and fans began to murmur, “Has anyone seen Tiger.”
The four-time Masters champion took a detour from his infamous “Dawn Patrol.” Woods did not show up until about 4 p.m., wearing only sneakers as he putted and worked in the short-game area. He finally teed off at No. 10, but after finishing the 14th hole, made a detour to the 18th hole and called it a day.
BAD HAIR DAY: Rory McIlroy already is known as the teenager from Northern Ireland with the mop of brown hair.
That might change.
“It’s starting to annoy me a little bit. It’s getting a little much,” McIlroy said. “I might get it cut whenever I come back from this little stint after Hilton Head. It won’t be much. I’ll just get it trimmed and see how it goes.”
Someone asked if he would get it cut before winning a major.
“Depends how fast I win a major,” he replied.
ADVICE FOR A CHAMPION: Trevor Immelman has not won since he slipped on the green jacket last year. He has struggled to adjust to the recognition as a Masters champion and the additional demand on his time.
“I wasn’t used to that kind of a thing,” he said.
Indeed, winning the Masters can be a life-changing moment, especially for a player who had never won a major. But his mentor, Gary Player, offered him a sage piece of advice when he ran into Immelman on Monday.
“He himself said it was such a big change in his life,” Player said. “Yes, it is. I said to him today, ‘And when you win a second time, or you win another major, it will change again. It’s a process of change.’ The more majors you win, what a demand you will be in. But what a wonderful position to be in. Isn’t that what we all want?”
Player said Immelman needed time to get over the shock of celebrity, but that’s to be expected.
“It’s a very big change,” Player said. “But a lovely change.”
WRONG ATTENTION: Dustin Johnson found himself facing a small circle of TV cameras Monday, which might not be unusual considering he grew up a few hours away in South Carolina and is making his Masters debut.
Johnson, however, was in the news for other reasons.
He was arrested last week and charged with driving under the influence near his home in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
“I know I made a mistake,” Johnson said. “The only thing I can do is learn from it.”
Johnson said he did not know when he would next have to go to court, but he said Augusta National would have enough of his attention that he could concentrate on the Masters, and deal with his off-course issues later.
He said there have been no repercussions from his sponsors.
“I have a good relationship with them, and they’ve been supportive,” he said. “I know I let some people down.”
LATE START: Anthony Kim decided to fly up to Augusta National last month to see the course before his Masters debut.
But he never got to the club.
“I came the night after Doral, got in about 9 p.m. and woke up and it was raining,” he said. “So I just left that day.”
He played in the Shell Houston Open last week, and didn’t arrive until Monday.
“It was so special, driving out there, even though we were stuck in traffic,” Kim said. “I was anticipating driving down Magnolia Lane, which we didn’t get to do, but we went to the back (of the parking lot). It was very special to finally come up here and walk on the grounds.”
But even that didn’t last long. He only got in five holes of practice.
TRAVELING COACH: Kevin Sutherland is back in the Masters for the first time in six years, and so is his swing coach. Don Baucom loves coming to Augusta National, but it’s never easy.
Baucom is a teaching pro at Antelope Greens, an executive course in Sacramento, Calif. The Masters is in the northeast corner of Georgia. But there’s just one problem.
“I don’t like to fly,” Baucom said.
When he first came to Augusta National, the coach figured he would just take the train. It went from Sacramento to Chicago, and ran four hours late. From there, the train went to Washington, D.C., again arriving four hours late. He took the next train to South Carolina, then rented a car to drive to Augusta.
“It was rough,” Baucom said. “I had private quarters in the train, but I kept getting thrown from my bed.”
It was so bad that he had no choice but to fly home – his first time on a plane. He made it safely, but only after being so nervous that the flight attendant asked him to help push the drink cart to keep him busy.
This time, Baucom decided to drive. It took him four days, a little longer than usual because of a sand storm on Interstate 40 that led to a five-hour delay. But that was a minor inconvenience.
“My wife did a lot of driving,” he said. “I sleep great in the car.”
Baucom goes to about three tournaments a year – all on the West Coast.