The scene was incredible. As Tianlang Guan approached the 17th green, European Tour rules official John Paramor walked up to the eighth-grader and showed him his stopwatch. Fred Ridley, chairman of Augusta National's Competition Committee, sat in a nearby cart with a cellphone up to his ear.
Could it be? Did the greencoats of Augusta National really just hand out a slow-play penalty to Boy Wonder? Guan two-putted for what would have been a par. He walked to the back of the green, where he rocked back and forth on his heels. He then shook his head one time in disbelief. That’s about the extent of the physical reaction made by Guan, who with the one-shot penalty made 5 on the hole and slipped to 4 over for the tournament.
Guan hung back on the green to inform Ben Crenshaw of the situation, and then walked up to the 18th tee and split the fairway. After his approach found a greenside bunker, he hit the flagstick and then rolled in a 5-foot par putt to finish at 4 over par for two rounds at the 77th Masters Tournament.
He hovered at the cutline and had to wait several ...
Fred Couples was not the only player from the over-50 set to make the cut as 1988 Masters champion Sandy Lyle put two solid rounds together to make his 16th cut in 32 Masters.
Shooting 72-73 for a 1-over 145, the Scotsman made his first cut at Augusta since finishing T-20 in 2009. Though he trails leader Jason Day by seven shots, Lyle is in good company with Ernie Els, Bo Van Pelt and Zach Johnson, all T-30 through two rounds.
“Any time you make the cut at Augusta, you're really happy,” Lyle said of his accomplishment. “Two over after four yesterday wasn't looking very good, and I wasn't really striking the ball, so I just hung in and hung in, and then there was some life at the end and I got back to level par.
Lyle has broken 70 just one time in his last 60 rounds at the Masters, the first round in 2010, but missed the cut after a second-round 86.
To make up any ground on the leaders, Lyle will need to find a sub-70 round in his 55-year-old body or be content with making the cut and potentially a high finish ...
Marc Leishman might not know a thing or two about playing under pressure in a major championship, but that never stopped him before. Leishman was younger than Tianlang Guan, the 14-year-old Chinese sensation at this week's Masters, when he beat his father for the club championship back home in his native Australia.
“I didn't know what pressure was when I was 13,” he said.
Leishman, 29, handled the Masters pressure and a frisky wind Friday to shoot a 1-over 73 for a 36-hole total of 5-under 139 at Augusta National Golf Club. He trails Jason Day by one stroke.
It's been three years since Leishman's Masters debut in 2010. Leishman, who opened with a 66, has proved he can go low when he fired an 8-under 62 to win his lone PGA Tour title, the 2012 Travelers Championship.
Back in his native Warrnambool, a coastal town of about 30,000 three hours from Melbourne, his parents, Paul and Pelita, got quite a shock when they woke up and saw he had won.
Now, Paul and Pelita Leishman are witnessing his performance in person along with Leishman’s wife, Audrey, who is 22 weeks pregnant with their ...
When Jack Nicklaus outdrove Gary Player and Arnold Palmer on Thursday morning in the ceremonial opening of the Masters, he used a 45-inch Nicklaus ML4 driver with a stiff shaft. The loft was 9 degrees, and the club had a customized Secret Grip from Boccieri Golf.
The grip was a wrap version of the all-weather Secret Grip introduced in January at the PGA Merchandise Show. Both grips weigh 92 grams, including a 17-gram tungsten weight.
A normal grip weighs about 50 grams. The heavier Secret Grip is designed to act as a counterbalance, lowering the swingweight and raising the balance point.
The wrap grip probably will be added to the line, according to a Boccieri spokesman.
In damp and overcast conditions, Nicklaus hit a 237-yard drive off the first tee at Augusta National Golf Club. Player's drive was 235 yards, while Palmer had the shortest but straightest drive – 218 yards in the middle of the fairway.
Mizuno USA officials have high expectations for their new MP-H4 irons, which were boosted even more when Luke Donald practiced with the 3-iron and immediately put it into his bag.
Donald, the former world No. 1, is carrying the MP-H4 3-iron at the Masters. According to Chuck Couch, director of golf club marketing for Mizuno USA, the MP-H4 long irons are generating considerable interest among touring pros.
The 2-iron through 7-iron of this forged set are hollow, with the two-piece head (forged carbon steel and stainless steel) joined together by plasma welding. Hollow construction allows Mizuno to maneuver the weight for increased stability and a higher trajectory. Meanwhile, the short irons and wedges are solid metal.
Dustin Johnson’s game seems well-suited for Augusta National, a fact confirmed when he took the lead at Augusta National on Friday.
Johnson, who shot 67 Thursday to sit one shot off the lead, took the lead after a birdie on the par-5 13th that got him to 7 under par for the tournament.
He made bogey at the next hole, then double-bogeyed the par-5 15th after laying up and hitting his short third shot into the water in front of the green. He also made bogey at the par-4 17th for the second consecutive day and closed with a double-bogey at the 18th.
All told, Johnson played his final five holes in 6 over. He declined comment after his round. He sits at 1-under 143 after his second-round 76.
The Masters is the only major where Johnson has never collected a top-10 finish, although his long, right-to-left tee shots fit the course and usually allow him to take advantage of the par-5s. That wasn't the case at the 15th hole Friday.
Johnson bogeyed two of his first three Friday, but got to 2 under for the day after birdies at Nos. 4, 9, 10 and 13.
Tianlang Guan shot 75 Friday to finish at 4-over 148. The 14-year-old's fate will now be in the hands of the tournament's leaders. Guan, 14, was tied for 63rd when he finished his round. The Masters cuts its field to the top 50 and ties and all players within 10 shots of the lead. There was a five-way tie for the lead at 4 under par when Guan finished his round. The cut would be 6 over par if the lead stays at 4 under.
Guan made bogeys at Nos. 4, 7 and 17 and had 15 pars. His bogey at 17 was the result of a one-stroke penalty for slow play.
"I know the rules pretty good I think. My routine is pretty good too, just the wind switching," Guan said.
"I respect the decision. This is what they can do."
One of his playing partners was a little more outspoken.
"This isn't going to end up pretty, I don't think. I'm sick. I'm sick for him," said two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw, who played with Guan. "He's 14 years old. . . . When you get the wind blowing out here, believe me, you ...
Angel Cabrera could shatter his own record this weekend. Cabrera is the lowest-ranked player ever to win the Masters. He was No. 69 in the Official World Golf Ranking when he won the green jacket in 2009.
Cabrera, 43, now ranks 200 spots lower in the OWGR. He is in contention for a second green jacket after making birdie on four of his final five holes Friday. He shot 69 for a 4-under 140 total.
"For me, Augusta is never easy," Cabrera said. "Never, ever easy. The big difference was that (during) the back nine, I was hitting very well off the tee, leaving my second shots close, and I was able to make some birdies."
He birdied Nos. 13-16, then made birdie on the final hole. Cabrera might claim that Augusta National is "never easy," but he has fared well since his 2009 victory here. Cabrera has made the cut in all three Masters appearances since his victory, finishing no worse than 32nd in that span. He was in second place through 54 holes of the 2011 event, four shots behind Rory McIlroy. He played alongside McIlroy during McIlroy's final-round 80. Cabrera shot 71 that day to finish ...
Fred Couples isn't the only senior contending at Augusta National. Bernhard Langer, 55, shot a second consecutive 71 Friday and was four shots off the lead – tied for eighth place when he completed his round. Langer will make the Masters cut for the first time since 2005.
Langer had missed the cut in the previous six appearances at Augusta National, and did not play in the 2011 tournament. "I have a different attitude this year: I'm trying to win, trying to be on the leaderboard, and not just trying to scrape in and make the cut," Langer said. "So, so far, so good."
Langer made eagle on the par-5 second hole, and was bogey-free on the back nine, including birdies on Nos. 14 and 16.
When asked if a player in his 50s can win this tournament, Langer replied, "I think it's possible. I always thought that Freddie, with his length, can win it, because he hits it a good 30 yards by me, which helps a great deal on some of these holes.
"For me to win, everything has to go my way. I've got to start making some putts, most of all. So I ...
It wasn't the strength, but the fickle direction, of Friday's wind at Augusta National that made scoring so difficult. Throw in tougher hole locations and you have sufficient explanation for higher scores in the Masters' second round. “This golf course is so penal if you miss your spots,” Martin Laird said after Friday’s 73. “You have a 5-yard circle to land the ball, and when the wind is blowing . . . it makes it a lot harder to get close to pins or even get it on the surface.”
Laird expected the wind to be blowing left-to-right when he arrived at the 13th fairway. It was in his face instead. “It’s always a bit disconcerting when the wind has been blowing one direction the first 12 holes, ... and then you stand in the middle of the 13th fairway and it seems to have moved.”
Players said both of the second nine’s par-5s – Nos. 13 and 15 – are playing into the wind.
“I don’t think it was real strong,” John Merrick said after shooting 77. “Maybe 15-20 mph at the most, but you don’t need a lot of wind out here to make it tough. There ...
Weather warning signs were up, warm and balmy winds were picking up, and the race to finish Round 1 of the 77th Masters was like an Alydar-Affirmed duel down the stretch.
Yet as much as swiftness was of the essence, the closing holes demand great care, so it was no time to get sloppy. That’s why a healthy list of notable names who packed the back end of the tee sheet could smile widely and offer a sigh of relief.
They had held it together.
No one more so than the inimitable one from Castellon, Spain, Sergio Garcia. When last seen on the grounds of Augusta National last April, Garcia was bemoaning a 75-71 weekend that left him T-12 and talking that he was destined to never win a major.
But after making a brilliant up-and-down at the par-4 17th to help cement a bogey-free 66 and get into a share of the lead, the 33-year-old smiled. And, yes, he remembered that it wasn’t this way a year ago.
“Obviously, it’s not my most favorite place,” he said. “But you know, we try to enjoy it as much as we can each time.”
Clearly, this one was ...
Forget all of his early-season struggles, which included a badly missed cut in Abu Dhabi and an early walk-off at the Honda Classic. Rory McIlroy stepped onto the grounds at Augusta National Golf Club this week and proclaimed that the “real” golf season had started – the major season that runs from the start of April to the end of August.
If that’s true, unfortunately, his Opening Day at the Masters was something of a wash. Playing in Thursday’s penultimate group, he got off to the start he needed (nearly holing a chip for eagle at No. 2), and he struck the ball well enough to stay into red numbers. But two three-putts on the back nine hampered him, and five bogeys proved way too many in a sloppy effort that only netted him a round of level-par 72.
“I gave myself plenty of opportunities,” said McIlroy, who hit nine fairways and 14 greens – one more green than Tiger Woods would hit – but took two extra shots to get to the clubhouse. Tee to green, his game appeared to be pretty solid; he took care of the par 5s, which one has to do at Augusta, making birdies at ...
It’s only been five years since South African Trevor Immelman slipped a green jacket over his shoulders at Augusta National Golf Club, becoming the first South African to win the Masters since Gary Player. Sometimes it must seem like some other lifetime ago.
His Masters victory at age 28 was expected to propel Immelman to the next level. But it simply hasn’t happened. That was his last victory on any worldwide tour.
Initially, he had some health issues, including right wrist surgery in 2009 that ground his momentum to a halt. Slowly, his ballstriking has returned, but during the Florida Swing, Immelman suddenly struggled with his putting. And even after a solid, opening 4-under 68 at Augusta National, his confidence level seems tepid, at best.
Then again, Augusta National is a place he knows quite well, dating to his amateur days, when he played the Masters as the reigning U.S. Public Links champion in 1999. At 33 now, he’s making his 11th Masters start.
“There’s a long way to go, but hopefully I can keep the momentum going,” he said. “I’m not sure I’ve shot a 68 to start the tournament since I ...
For a while on the front nine, it appeared Tiger Woods wasn’t in the best control of his golf ball.
A hooked second shot left him no angle at No. 2. His head went down in disgust, if not the club.
A substandard pitch missed the green on the right side at No. 3. Head down, shoulders slumped.
A double-crossed 3-wood tee shot headed toward the left trees on No. 7. Head down in frustration.
A long-iron second shot went over the green at No. 8, and he didn’t appear to like the shape. Head down once more.
This was your Masters favorite, a winner of 14 major championships, but his body language on those holes would have fooled you.
The scorecard, though, looked better than those four visuals. He got up and down at Nos. 2-3 for par and for birdie at the eighth. He would go on to hit nine fairways and 13 greens in regulation. And, despite missing 6-foot putts at Nos. 14 (for par) and 15 (for birdie), he managed a 2-under-par 70 Thursday that left him pleased in the first round of the Masters.
“It was a good solid day . . . a good start ...
Black Swan and its slightly smaller sister, Black Hawk, are among the most-distinctive putters in golf.
There was a Black Swan sighting Thursday at the Masters, as former Masters and British Open champion Sandy Lyle used the putter while shooting a 1-over-par 73.
Both Black Swan and Black Hawk have huge rectangular black heads. They are probably the largest putter heads in golf. The concept of inventor David Kargetta, a longtime automotive engineer, was to enhance stability and create a putter that is extremely forgiving on off-center hits.
In his demonstrations, Kargetta likes to place three balls side by side, then use one of his putters to hit all three balls simultaneously. Invariably the three roll about the same distance.
The first Black Swan sighting came at the Sony Open in Hawaii in 2012, when Matt Every nearly won the tournament with a fearsome putting display. Later that same year, Lyle used the putter to shoot closing rounds of 66-64 and tie for fourth in the the Senior PGA Championship.
Shortly thereafter, Lyle put the putter in his closet. For the Masters, he reunited with the Black Swan.
“At the Senior PGA, I had a very, very good putting week ...