Rewinding an awesome week at Augusta
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
You wait all year for the Masters. You think you can let it go after just a couple of days? Not a chance. That is why the mind is stuck on the sights, sounds and sidelights to a week unlike any other in all of sports.
Only at Augusta and the Masters will you see a security official walk up to a patron who has removed his sneakers while sitting greenside at No. 17 and tell him barefoot is not allowed. Anywhere else and the fan would have told the security man what he might do with that sneaker. But this is the Masters. The man put the sneakers on.
Major Moments 2010: What makes the Masters so special?
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Lee Westwood drew praise – and deservedly so – for how he conducted himself after things did not go his way alongside Phil Mickelson in Sunday’s final round.
Gracious and well-spoken, Westwood perhaps was destined for runner-up status from the outset. After all, he had shot 67-69-68 over the first three days and it’s well established that no one has ever shot all four rounds in the 60s at Augusta National.
Turns out, Westwood would have had to shoot 68 just to tie Mickelson at 16 under. In hindsight, it’s hard to have envisioned that.
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Cheers, also, to Westwood’s classy caddie, Billy Foster. He waited out an outpouring of emotion to pay great respect to both Mickelson and Mickelson’s caddie, Jim Mackay, when the round was over.
Foster could relate to the perspective. He lost his mother to breast cancer and he was friendly with Heather Clarke, wife of Darren, for whom Foster caddied many seasons. In 2006, Clarke lost her battle with breast cancer, so Foster felt some attachment to the Mickelson story.
Last summer, Foster went on a walk from Loch Lomond to Turnberry to raise money for breast cancer research.
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For 15-20 minutes late Sunday afternoon, the best place to be was the far right side of the 11th fairway. First, a wild drive by Tiger Woods struck a patron and the ball nearly fell into a small bag that belonged to Michael Thompson, who was doing score reporting.
The man who got hit received a ball from Woods’ caddie, Steve Williams, then wandered away.
Minutes later, with Woods having played two recovery shots, that man walked back to the same spot. This time, it was a Mickelson hook that came crashing into the trees and sure enough it hit a guy who was standing right next to the guy who had been hit by Woods’ ball.
That man received a little more for his troubles. Mickelson came over and personally made sure all was well, then he signed a glove.
And what did the man say?
Mickelson shrugged his big shoulders.
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Unless you had arrived much earlier, it was tough to get a good vantage point down at Amen Corner late in Sunday’s final round. Except for that guy who somehow worked his way into the grandstands that are reserved for working press.
Seems that Urban Meyer’s stature as University of Florida football coach means something, even in Georgia and even at a place where the chairman (Billy Payne) is a devout University of Georgia guy.
Meyer and his family squeezed into the stands to watch Tiger Woods play the par-3 12th, much to the chagrin of two reporters who couldn’t get into the seats.
Strange, but when Woods finished, Meyer and guests left, rather than watch Mickelson. All the lefthander did was rip an 8-iron to 20 feet to set up arguably the key birdie in his win.
Bad call, Urban.
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Though he finished T-45, Robert Allenby had an adventure just to make the cut. He was 4 over after 10 holes Thursday, but made four birdies over the last seven holes to shoot 72.
In his second round, Allenby was short of the green in three shots at the par-4 11th when he pitched in to save par. Then he was 3 over and on the cutline when he made par-saving putts of 18 and 8 feet, respectively, at 17 and 18.
“Mike Davis was smiling when I walked in (the scoring hut),” Allenby said.
That was an indication he had made the cut, but it’s not like he was thrilled. In fact, one thing aggravated him.
“I don’t think I’ve ever shot in the 60s around here,” the Aussie said.
He was right. Including this year, Allenby has played 36 rounds at Augusta National and never broken 70. Amazingly, though, he’s made the cut seven times in 11 tries.
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Allenby isn’t alone when it comes to not breaking 70 at Augusta National. Neither have Ben Curtis (18 rounds), Henrik Stenson (16), Robert Karlsson (14), Lucas Glover (10), and Dustin Johnson (8).
Allenby’s countryman, Adam Scott, shot 69 in Round 1, after having failed to break 70 in any of his first 28 rounds at Augusta.
Odd, but Luke Donald shot in the 60s three times in his 2005 debut. In 16 rounds since, he hasn’t done better than 71.
Vijay Singh is another who has seemingly lost his direction at Augusta National. The 2000 winner opened with a 67 in 2006, but has failed to break 70 in 17 rounds since.
When David Toms opened with a 69, it was his first sub-70 score since Round 4 of his 1998 debut. He had gone 35 rounds without breaking 70.
And Justin Leonard is really at a loss at Augusta. He shot 69 in the final round in 1998, but hasn’t done better than 70 in 36 rounds since.
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One of the silliest moments came late Wednesday morning when folks starting tweeting and blogging that Tiger Woods was going to play in the Par 3 contest. And how did they know that, when all indications were that Woods was not going to play?
A sheet was put out with the heading “Par 3 Participants,” and if you read left to right, the names Lucas Glover, Larry Mize and Tiger Woods were on the same line, as if entered as a pairing.
Turns out, the sheet merely listed every player who was “invited” to play and it was done alphabetically.
Apparently, tweeters and bloggers can take mulligans.
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Of the 17 players who were making their Masters debut, eight made the cut. Of those eight, Steve Marino finished best (T-14) with Bill Haas (T-26) next. Of the nine who missed the cut, five were amateurs. The only amateur to make the cut was 16-year-old British Amateur champ Matteo Manessero.
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Seeing as how he’d missed out on the Masters in 2009 after having played every April since 1998, Toms has to be pleased to have birdied the 72nd hole and seize a share of 14th. That qualified him for the 2010 Masters (top 16 and ties).
It was a different story for Scott Verplank. Having gone 7 under for 14 holes, he was 4 under and looking for a possible top 10. Instead, he finished double bogey-bogey and finished T-18, missing out on a top 16 by one shot.
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Explain this one: Chad Campbell played the par-5 13th in 1 over and was 2 over for the par 5s. He was also 0-for-9 in attempts to sand save attempts.
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Take note of this: Each of the last three winners of the Masters, (Phil Mickelson, Angel Cabrera, Trevor Immelman) have played the Shell Houston Open the week before.
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Sergio Garcia played the par 5s in 10 under, but he was 20 over everywhere else.
Who’s Sergio Garcia?
Sadly, a lot of people in golf are asking that these days. Just where has he gone?