In one of the biggest surprises of the 77th Masters, Phil Mickelson has been in a word, dreadful.
The three-time Masters champion has looked less than ordinary and at times unsure of what exactly to do. This on a golf course, Augusta National, that he has owned at different times in his career.
Shooting a front-nine 38 in Thursday’s first round, Mickelson struggled with the course setup and conditions. He was one of the few as 12 players broke 70, 33 broke par and 45 shot even or better.
With a one-under 71, Mickelson was at least in touch of the leaders at 6 under that day, but came off the course questioning everything.
“They're soft and they are slow,” Mickelson said of the typically quick greens. “And consequently we have 45 people at par or better. But that means that I've got to change my whole mindset and just get after these pins, because the ball's not running like it used to and I'm giving this course way too much respect because of my past knowledge than the way I should be playing it today.”
Mickelson then fared worse with a five-over 76 Friday ...
Matt Kuchar smiles at the memories of his first trip to the Masters 15 years ago. You know, the Kuchar smile. It’s as wide as the Grand Canyon.
Back then, he was an amateur sensation here in 1998. He won the hearts of the patrons with a Saturday 68 and a 21st place finish.
Memories, he has a few, such as gripping tightly to the railing and descending the steep, narrow staircase of the Crow’s Nest, the famed attic of the Augusta National clubhouse where generations of amateur competitors have slept.
“You come out of a tiny glass door into the corner of the dining room and the members look at you as if you magically appeared,” he said.
Kuchar’s name on the Masters leaderboard once again is no illusion. After shooting a 75 on Friday, Kuchar bounced back with birdies on all four par-5s and posted a 3-under 69 for a 54-hole total of 4-under 212.
In the third round, Kuchar’s card was clean until he lipped out a 5-footer to three-putt from 60 feet at the 11th hole. It didn't dampen his enthusiasm. Kuchar still took time to enjoy his favorite place at ...
Tianlang Guan dropped a 60-foot putt for par on the 18th hole, threw both hands into the air and doffed his white Augusta cap. Playing partner Thorbjorn Olesen gave him a fist bump. The crowd rose to its feet. The kid knows how to put on a show.
Guan’s third round at the 77th Masters wasn’t quite as newsworthy as his first two – a 5-over 77 with no slow-play warnings – but he was a popular attraction on a gorgeous day in Augusta. Many patrons wandered over to watch Guan hit at least one shot. After all, the 14-year-old is walking history.
“Unbelievable,” said Olesen when asked for his impressions of Guan. “I mean, every shot he hit was almost at the pin and in the right spots.”
Guan’s 9-over score isn’t indicative of how well he has hit the ball. Because he’s hitting hybrid on so many approach shots – and greens are firming up – he spent a great deal of time over the greens. He again made several spectacular par saves, but couldn’t convert them all. For the second consecutive day, he failed to post a birdie.
There were two rules officials hanging out ...
Here’s why Tiger Woods was not disqualified from the Masters: the Augusta National Competitions Committee had decided before he signed his scorecard that Woods shouldn’t be penalized for his drop at the 15th hole. The club's initial decision is what spared Woods.
“It would have been grossly unfair to disqualify him after our committee had made a decision,” said Fred Ridley, chairman of the committee. The committee conducted the investigation after a television viewer called the club to question Woods' drop.
The committee reviewed it while Woods was completing his second round, ruling that he had taken a valid drop “as near as possible” to the position of his last shot. The committee didn’t inform Woods of the investigation because no penalty was assessed, Ridley said.
Woods’ post-round comments, during which he said he dropped “two yards” from the spot of his last shot, were the additional evidence that convinced the committee that Woods' drop at 15 was improper. Augusta National decided Saturday morning to add two shots to Woods' score, while many called for Woods to be disqualified for signing for a lower score, one that did not reflect the later penalty. Woods tweeted, “I ...
When Tiger Woods woke up Saturday morning and checked his cellular telephone at about 7:30, he heard a message from his longtime agent, Mark Steinberg, that said, “Call me when you get up.”
It was then that Woods learned of the delayed Masters controversy surrounding his improper drop on the 15th hole the day before. When Steinberg informed Woods of the situation, the four-time Masters champion called Augusta National and then drove to the club to meet with officials at about 8 a.m.
“He came in to explain to them what happened,” Steinberg said. “Whatever decision that was rendered, he was going to accept it. I can’t say he was pleased . . . but he has a lot of respect for the rules.”
Eventually, the committee determined Woods violated Rule 26-1 (Water Hazards) and assessed the world No. 1 a two-stroke penalty. Disqualification was waived under Rule 33-7 (Disqualification Penalty; Committee Discretion) because the committee had reviewed the drop and cleared Woods before he finished his second round. Competition committee chairman Fred Ridley said he thought it was unnecessary to talk with Woods before he signed his card because rules officials saw no violation.
The tournament, though, decided the ...
The drop heard 'round the world.
Tiger Woods was given a two-stroke penalty Saturday morning after an illegal drop on No. 15 during the second round of the Masters on Friday.
People have multiple opinions on the situation and whether Augusta National made the right decision in giving him a two-shot penalty rather than disqualifying him.
• • •
Before Tiger got to Augusta National for Saturday’s third round, he took to Twitter:
Tiger Woods @TigerWoods
At hole #15, I took a drop that I thought was correct and in accordance with the rules. I was unaware at that time I had violated any rules.
I didn’t know I had taken an incorrect drop prior to signing my scorecard. Subsequently, I met with the Masters Committee Saturday morning..
and was advised they had reviewed the incident prior to the completion of my round. Their initial determination...
was that there was no violation, but they had additional concerns based on my post-round interview. After discussing the situation...
...with them this morning, I was assessed a two-shot penalty. I understand and accept the penalty and respect the Committees’ decision.
• • •
Other players and people well-known in the golf world took their opinions to Twitter ...
His involvement in the 77th Masters had ended late Friday afternoon – or so Padraig Harrington thought.
Turns out, in a bizarre sort of way, the Irishman’s name was bandied about before the start of Saturday’s third round, even if he did shoot 78-75 to miss the cut by miles.
Asked whether he had heard about the storyline that has taken this tournament by storm – the two-stroke penalty assessed to Tiger Woods, who was spared a disqualification in a hugely controversial decision – Harrington nodded his head.
Didn’t something involving Harrington sound similar, except that he was disqualified? He nodded. “Yeah, yeah. It was me. Abu Dhabi.”
In 2011, Harrington led the Abu Dhabi tournament after opening with a 65, but before Round 2 he was called in to review television clips of the previous day’s action. It seems that the finest HD cameras were able to determine that Harrington’s ball on the putting green moved toward the hole ever so slightly that the human eye couldn’t see it. Because he never replaced the ball, Harrington was deemed to have been in violation of the Rules of Golf.
He accepted his DQ with dignity, but when ...
Dow Finsterwald was leaving a package at an area hotel around 9 a.m. Saturday morning when he learned that Tiger Woods had made an illegal drop during the second round and might be disqualified from the 2013 Masters.
Finsterwald immediately recalled his own experience at the 1960 Masters when he “retroactively” was assessed a two-stroke penalty for practice putting on the green.
Finsterwald thought this might be relevant. So upon arriving at Augusta National, he sought out Fred Ridley, the chairman of the Masters Competition Committee, and recounted his incident. Finsterwald’s main point: Precedence existed at the Masters for a less-severe penalty.
Besides being the 1958 PGA champion, Finsterwald is a rules expert and has served as a member of the Rules Committee since the 1978 Masters.
“I think (Ridley) was appreciative of what I told him. He didn’t appear to know that that had happened here before,” Finsterwald said.
It also appears Finsterwald’s incident didn’t influence the Committee’s decision not to disqualify Woods. Ridley confirmed he was made aware of Finsterwald’s case, but said, “that was not a factor.”
What exactly happened 53 years ago? Finsterwald, who was stationed as a rules ...
Tiger Woods' two-shot penalty dropped him five shots behind 36-hole leader Jason Day. Woods fell from a tie for seventh to a tie for 19th; his second-round 71 was turned into a 73.
Woods trailed Day by three shots before the penalty. "He can make that up in nine holes,” Day said Friday evening. Now the deficit is even greater for Woods, the pre-tournament favorite after winning three times in 2013, including his previous two starts before the Masters.
A win by Woods this week would indeed be considered controversial by those who believe he should have been disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard. The penalty obviously hurt Woods' chances at a fifth green jacket and a 15th career major. But is victory even a possibility this week? History gives mixed signals.
He's overcome a larger 36-hole deficit en route to victory here, trailing by six shots after 36 holes in 2005. It was the only time he's won at Augusta National after trailing by more than four shots at the midway point. Woods trailed by four shots after two rounds in 2002, and was two shots back at the midway point in 2001. He was the 36-hole ...
Defending champion Bubba Watson will lead the way Saturday, although it's an unenviable position: He'll tee off first for Saturday's third round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. Watson is among seven golfers at 4 over par who made the cut only because Augusta National expanded the final two rounds to the top 50 golfers and anyone within 10 strokes of the lead.
At the other end of the field, leader Jason Day will start the day at 6 under with a one-stroke advantage over playing partner Fred Couples and, in the group ahead, Marc Leishman. Leishman will play with Angel Cabrera, one of three golfers at 4 under; they'll be able to watch the other two in the group in front of them, Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker.
Here is the complete list of tee times and pairings for the third round:
• • •
9:25 a.m.: Bubba Watson
9:35 a.m.: John Peterson, Ryo Ishikawa
9:45 a.m.: Lucas Glover, Branden Grace
9:55 a.m.: Thorbjorn Olesen, a-Guan Tianlang
10:05 a.m.: Peter Hanson, John Huh
10:15 a.m.: Martin Kaymer, Robert Garrigus
10:25 a.m.: Nick ...
The tall pines were swaying and the winds were gently shifting as Stewart Cink surveyed his approach to Augusta National’s uphill 18th hole late Friday. But nothing was swirling more turbulently than all those numerals rolling around inside his head.
One-hundred fifty-five yards to the front of the green; nine more yards to get his ball to the hole location; and 158 yards as the significant number to cover a big swale a short distance in front of the flagstick.
Cink, a smart lad who graduated from Georgia Tech, computed for a while . . . and then he threw it all out. He chose 9-iron over the 8-iron all the numbers normally would dictate, and gently lofted a shot that settled 5 feet from the hole, setting up a closing birdie in a hard-earned, 1-under 71.
“You remember with the wind out of the west, that 18 always is going to play short,” said Cink, who is playing in his 16th Masters. “You know the wind always feels like it’s across, but really, above the trees, it’s helping a little. Some of this stuff you write down (in your yardage book). And some of it you just keep upstairs ...
Some players can't seem to rise to the occasion when golf is played on its biggest stages. But Angel Cabrera doesn't have that problem. Here's what the Argentinian, who won the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont and the 2009 Masters, is playing this week at Augusta National.
DRIVER: Ping G25 (8.5 degree) with an Aldila Tour Green 75X shaft
FAIRWAY WOOD: Ping G25 (15 degree) with an Aldila RIP Alpha 80X shaft
IRONS: Ping i20 (3), Ping S56 (3-PW) with True Temper X100 shafts
WEDGES: Ping Tour with Gorge Grooves (54, 58, 62) with True Temper X100 shafts
PUTTER: Ping Scottsdale TR Shea H
BALL: Titleist Pro V1x
Michael Weaver never imagined that his biggest competition for low amateur at the Masters would be 14-year-old Tianlang Guan. Much less that Guan would be the only amateur to make the cut.
“People questioned whether or not the club was doing the right thing inviting a 14-year-old,” Weaver said. “Those people are kind of eating crow a little bit.”
For the Cal junior and the rest of the amateur players, it was a tough 36 holes. Weaver, runner-up at last year’s U.S. Amateur, was disappointed in his play on the par 5s. He bogeyed the eighth hole both days and bogeyed the 13th hole Thursday. Weaver said Cal coach Steve Desimone constantly preaches no bogeys on par 5s.
“If you can’t do it in college, you can’t do it here,” said Weaver, who finished 8 over for the tournament after shooting 78-74. He did birdie the 18th hole, however, to give himself a nice finish on his 22nd birthday.
Florida’s T.J. Vogel, the U.S. Amateur Public Links champ, also shot 8 over while U.S. Mid-Amateur champ Nathan Smith finished 11 over. In four appearances at the Masters, the 34-year-old Smith has yet ...
A year ago, Bubba Watson hit a miracle shot at the Masters. On Friday, he delivered a crazy scorecard. It was something out of an amusement park – up, down, sideways, emotional.
The defending champion made the cut on the number (4-over-par 148) after shooting a 73 that featured seven birdies, six bogeys and a double bogey. That means he made only four pars, remarkably none between the fourth and 17th holes.
But then a roller-coaster round like that was nothing new to him.
“I’ve had tons of them,” he said. “That’s what we call Bubba Golf.”
Watson birdied all four par 5s and three of the four par 3s, all but the long fourth, where he bogeyed. He also bogeyed Nos. 7, 9, 10, 14 and 18 and doubled after rinsing an approach at 11.
“Let’s not worry about the score,” Watson said. “Let’s worry about the putting.”
Oh, yeah, that.
By Bubba’s count, each day he three-putted three times plus another time from the fringe. That’s eight in his book. He’s mindful he’d be two shots off the lead if those were eliminated.
“Four both days,” he said. “I try to ...
At various times over the years, his temperamental back has acted up more than a terrible 2-year-old child. He is 53 years old, about five years grayer than the oldest major champion. He hasn’t played a full schedule on the regular tour since last decade. And a couple of weeks ago he said he didn’t have a chance at the Masters because he was playing horribly.
But there is Fred Couples, back in the mix at Augusta National, prompting all those “Fred-eeeee!” cries hole by hole, waking up the echoes and acting like he’s still playing back in the 1990s.
Less than a month before his induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame, Couples again played here more like contemporary champion than golf relic. A year ago, he was the oldest Masters midway leader before fading. And this week has brought similar success, for his 5-under-par 68-71–139 has him one shot off Jason Day’s 36-hole lead, has onlookers marveling and has him trying like hell to retire in grand style.
“I’m going to quit when I win this thing,” Couples said. “I swear to God, I’m going to retire. It’s probably ...