Achie's Awards: 16th hole is spectator heaven
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
"Best spectator hole during Masters practice rounds" may not sound like a big deal, but there are several serious candidates for this distinction.
• And the winner is: Augusta National's No. 16, a par 3 with a scorecard yardage of 170 yards. Veteran spectators looking for entertainment head straight to 16.
Welcome to Tuesday at the Masters and the daily awards that honor major championship golf and the players who are skilled enough to be contenders.
On practice days, the 16th hole has turned into a fun fest. If you thought everything about the Masters was straight-laced, frowny-faced and humorless, think again.
In recent years, players have taken to skipping their tee shots across the pond that stretches from tee to green. It is a contest, a challenge, a test of creative shotmaking.
PHOTOS: 2014 Masters (Tuesday)
Check out images from Tuesday's practice round for the 2014 Masters at Augusta (Ga.) National Golf Club.
Five skips, six skips, even seven skips, it has became a gauntlet for every group going through.
Sergio Garcia hit four tee balls Tuesday on 16, the first two from the regular teeing ground and the second two from the skippie area in front of the tee. He didn't appear to be happy with any of the shots, but that's Sergio.
"It makes you feel like a kid," Garcia said. "It's fun."
With every shot, the crowd screams with pleasure or displeasure. At least two major champions -- Vijay Singh and Martin Kaymer -- have scored aces with their skip-a-dee-do-dah shots.
The 16th is something of an amphitheater with its grandstands and steep hillside. It is a spectator's paradise.
• With all this attention on skippies, the good heart award goes not to a player, but to Masters spectator Boone Schweitzer of Aspen, Colo.
It was Schweitzer, in the process of raising college scholarship money for underprivileged high school students, who popularized Trash Golf. In this competition, players earn points for performing unorthodox shots.
A skippie, for example, is a shot that skips off water and finds dry land. A barkie rebounds off a tree. A Willie, named after Willie Nelson, bounces down a cart path ("On the road again").
• The "Woosie is done" award has Rory McIlroy's name all over it.
McIlroy was reading from a list of Masters players, identifying the ones who could still win: "Stewart Cink, Tim Clark, Ian Woosnam, no … sorry, Woosie, but I'm talking about the people that are playing regularly on the PGA Tour … sorry, Woosie, didn't mean that."
• The "Take your stinkin' strategy and stuff it" award goes to Jason Dufner.
"I remember one year I was trying to figure out how to play the 4th hole, which is a very difficult par-3," Dufner said. "I had this special club that was going to fly between 225 and 230 (yards), and I'm all locked in, excited about it. Then we get there and it's playing straight downwind and the club goes over the back of the green."
• The "I'll pick Rickie award" is reserved for Phil Mickelson.
"Rickie Fowler and I were partners today," Mickelson related, "and he went on a tear. He shot 30 on the front nine, he eagled 13, he birdied 17 and 18. He just played remarkable golf. It was fun to have him as my partner."
• The "Say goodbye to that dollar bill" award goes to the wagering king, Mickelson (again).
"He was mouthing off about 'hard shot, get this up-and-down, no chance, blah, blah, blah," Mickelson said of a spectator. "It wasn't that hard a shot, and I should have gotten it up-and-down, and I did hit a good shot. I had a 7-footer straight uphill and I miss it, and I had to pay him. That's what happens when you lose."
• The "Fitness, not neatness" award seems destined for Gary Player. This came to light when defending Masters champion Adam Scott was asked about his locker in the Champions Locker Room.
"I share a locker with Gary Player, which is nice for me," Scott revealed. "He gets a lot of mail, so there's not a lot of room for myself in there, but we make it work. That's okay. My stuffs kind of scattered around a bit on the floor. I haven't seen him yet this week, so I don't know how he feels about that yet."
• The "Wine, not bugs" award is for Scott, who picked some of his favorite Australian food for the Champions Dinner.
"Nothing too exotic," he said, "because I didn't think any of the other guys would appreciate it, kangaroo and crocodile, or anything like that. It's along the lines of surf and turf, and it will be off the barbie, which is what I like."
What he also likes is Moreton bugs. "They are one of my favorite foods back home," Scott said. "Hopefully the other guys can get past the name and enjoy a nice bit of our seafood from home. But I think they are going to be pretty happy with what I serve up tonight -- particularly the wine."
Can't wait for Wednesday.