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After heart surgery, Micheel tees it up at sectional

Adam Schupak

CORDOVA, Tenn. –– Shaun Micheel hit a few practice putts before his opening round of the U.S. Open sectional qualifier at Colonial Country Club and then walked over to say hello to an old friend. With a smile splitting his face, the 45-year-old former PGA champion looked the picture of good health. Not long ago, that was far from true.

“What do you want to talk about?” Micheel said. “My four stents and heart condition.”

And with that, Micheel began detailing how delighted he was to be playing golf today and have the opportunity to qualify for the U.S. Open.

Click here to follow our live U.S. Open sectional qualifying tracker.

“My neck was hurting me and I wasn’t feeling good. I could tell something was wrong,” Micheel said. On Feb. 17, he had a cardiac CT scan and was prescribed several medicines.

“I couldn’t exercise or do anything without being out of breath,” he said.

When his condition worsened, he underwent surgery on April 18. Surgeons found his right coronary artery was 99 percent blocked.

“They were going to put two stents in, but they ended up doing four,” he said.

Six days later, Micheel ...

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Report: Buck, Norman to broadcast '15 U.S. Open

Martin Kaufmann

Fox Sports apparently has settled on the cornerstones for its golf announcing crew.

Anchor Joe Buck will be paired with Greg Norman in the 18th tower when Fox Sports broadcasts its first U.S. Open in 2015, according to media reports and other sources.

Buck is Fox Sports’ top anchor for football and baseball, and also an avid golfer.

Norman has been rumored to be part of Fox Sports’ plans since the network acquired the U.S. Golf Association’s television rights in August. One source told Golfweek that Norman has signed a five-year contract with Fox Sports.

The network would not comment on its announcers, and Norman’s camp also would not confirm that a deal is done.

"We are continuing to work with Fox in hopes of formalizing an arrangement sometime soon,” Randy Earle, director of marketing and business development for Norman’s Great White Shark Enterprises, said in an email.

Fox Sports’ producer, Mark Loomis, reportedly had an interest in hiring Paul Azinger as a golf analyst, but those plans apparently have been nixed. It’s not immediately clear why. When Loomis was ABC’s golf producer in the mid-2000s, he had a hand in pairing Azinger ...

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From Magnolia Lane, Watson hits Waffle House

Bill Zimmerman

The first Masters champions dinner for Bubba Watson after his 2014 victory? Waffle House. (Hold all your victory-hangover jokes, please.)

Watson is a rural Southern man, after all, and Augusta National is firmly embedded in Dixieland. It's a fair guess that after winning your second Masters championship, no waffle is awful.

Which begs the question: What would be your first meal after exiting Magnolia Lane after winning the Masters? Answer in the comments below or tweet to us with #Golfweek.

Several years ago, our Jeff Rude explored the atmosphere that is a Waffle House in Augusta. And hilarity ensued.


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Fowler opens Mickelson's eyes in Masters practice

Jeff Rude

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Attire wasn’t the only thing colorful thing about Rickie Fowler in that interesting Masters Tuesday practice round. So was his game.

Fowler shot 30 on the front nine with Phil Mickelson as a partner. And on the back, according to Mickelson, Fowler eagled No. 13 and made three birdies.

What did Fowler shoot?

He said Wednesday he wasn’t sure because he had a double bogey and a three-putt green on the back.

When told that his tear is telling about his current form, Fowler said, “Last week was a better indicator.” That was a reference to his sixth-place finish at the Shell Houston Open.

Fowler earned $230,400 at Houston. He and Mickelson also made more than a few bucks in their money match against Dustin Johnson and Jason Dufner.

How much?

“That will stay under wraps," said Fowler, whose best finish in three Masters starts was a tie for 27th two years ago. "But it was enough for some trash talk and enough to get our juices flowing,"

Sounds like a tidy sum, at least enough for some jet fuel. It usually takes at least one comma and 3-4 zeros to get Mickelson’s juices ...

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Weir holes one on 16, but won't call it ace

Beth Ann Nichols

AUGUSTA, Ga. – The roar could be heard from the oak tree by the clubhouse. It was a Sunday type of roar, and the way the applause was sustained, patrons knew it had to be an ace.

Mike Weir’s not counting his 10th hole-in-one. It came on his second attempt from the 16th tee with a 5-iron. He was trying to cut the ball but hit the first one straight. His second shot to a middle hole location was perfect.

“It was kind of cool because on that hole you can see it go right in,” Weir said.

Sean O’Neill shouted to Weir, “You just made my whole Masters!” Weir gave the Canadian patron his ball.

The 2003 Masters champ spent Tuesday afternoon with compatriot Graham DeLaet, who is making his debut at Augusta. One the first tee, Weir said to DeLaet, “I won’t tell you anything unless you want to know.”

DeLaet was eager to learn.

Though their games are vastly different, Weir points out that secrets around the greens are applicable to all. When Weir was a Masters newbie, he took advice from the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Fred Couples.

This marks Weir's 15th ...

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Nicklaus isn't wavering: Woods will break record

Bill Zimmerman

Long on the record as thinking Tiger Woods will set the all-time record for wins in majors, the man who holds that mark – Jack Nicklaus – still thinks it will happen despite Woods' recent back surgery that is prompting him to miss this year's Masters and perhaps more tournaments as well.

"I still think he'll break my record," Nicklaus told ESPN Radio on the Mike & Mike Show. "As long as he is physically able to do it.

"... He's 38 years old and he's probably got another 10 years at least of being able to compete – that's 40 more majors to win five of them. It shouldn't be too difficult."

Nicklaus holds the record with 18 wins in majors, while Woods trails by four.

Woods had microdiscectomy surgery Monday, March 31, and announced the next day he would miss the Masters. The move came as a clear sign that he is placing long-term health concerns as a priority. Doctors told Golfweek shortly thereafter that a full recovery is likely for Woods.

Nicklaus last year spoke to the fact that Woods' clock is ticking: “Obviously the older he gets, and if he doesn't win, it makes ...

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Masters: Tee times at Augusta, second round

Nick Masuda

AUGUSTA, Ga. – There will be plenty of intrigue both the morning and afternoon sessions at the 78th Masters, while amateur Matthew Fitzpatrick will get an up-close look at the pressures of defending a major title.

Here are some key pairings for the second round of the Masters:

1:48 p.m.: Adam Scott, Jason Dufner, Matthew Fitzpatrick

Wow, talk about trial by fire. Scott won the 2013 Masters and could take over as World No. 1 this week. Jason Dufner is as calm as they come and is the defending PGA Championship champ. And while Fitzpatrick is the reigning U.S. Amateur champ, this will be the biggest crowd he has played in front of in his young career.

1:59 p.m.: Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Rory McIlroy

Talk about young guns, this group features three players under 25 that are all on the radar of oddsmakers this week. Spieth and Reed are making their first appearances at the Masters, while McIlroy is a 2011, back-nine blunder away from owning a green jacket.

9:35 a.m.: Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson

There is no need to stand any closer than 300 yards from driving holes on this ...

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Monday musings: Rain at Augusta; Lexi's win; more

Golfweek Staff

With rain setting in at Augusta National and cutting short Masters practice, several players took to Twitter earlier than usual on Monday – not to mention having tweeted Sunday on all things golf as well. Here's a sampling of tweets from players' accounts amid Monday's storm, as well as more:

• • •

Graham DeLaet, @GrahamDeLaet: "First annual Masters cribbage tourney with the boys! #rainymonday pic.twitter.com/MeYWCjFoxd"

Trevor Immelman, @TrevorImmelman: "Rain delay at The Masters. Still working on the putting..... vine.co/v/M5ujhaMLK2m"

Mark Calcavecchia, @MarkCalc: "Rae's Creek has risen 3 ft. If it rises 3 more ft we'll see if this 60,000 pound bus floats!! Aka Calcs Ark! pic.twitter.com/ODiI3RyIv3"

Ernie Els, @TheBig_Easy: "Making the drive, a bit wet here but still special @The_Masters pic.twitter.com/GTclvGE016"

Els: "This was me in my debut @The_Masters in 1994! Still excited to be here ... pic.twitter.com/YAb3vEKKU0"

Graeme McDowell, @Graeme_McDowell: "Play suspended for a few hours here. Feel for people with tickets today. Hopefully we play later #40short instagram.com/p/mfjaO7AwhY/"

McDowell: "Anyone need a little painting work done around the house? Met this lad this morning. #augustaselfie… instagram.com/p/mfi7WcAwgz ...

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Drive, Chip and Putt succeeds wildly

Jim McCabe

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Locked away for safe keeping is a priceless piece of information and should you question his credentials, Mark O’Meara could smile and remind you of how it is he came in possession of a certain green jacket.

It was 16 years ago when O’Meara on an April Sunday stared down a putt at the 72nd green at Augusta National Golf Club and curled it from right-to-left into the hole. The winning putt at the 1998 Masters is a memory worth talking about forever, any time, any place.

“About 18 to 20 feet,” O’Meara said, when asked for the length. And when discussion turned to the proceedings that surrounded him Sunday on his annual pilgrimage back to Augusta National, O’Meara smiled.

“This is a cool thing, a totally cool thing,” said O’Meara.

He was referring to the inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt Championship that featured 88 youngsters who had advanced through local and regional competition last year. Impressive as that endeavor might have been with the blessing and support of both the PGA of America and the U.S. Golf Association, what turned this competition into a home run was Augusta National’s total ...

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20 top contenders, Masters 2014 at Augusta National

Associated Press

A look at 20 players expected to contend in the Masters on April 10-13 at Augusta National Golf Club (listed in order of OWGR):

• • •

Adam Scott, 33, Australia

  • World ranking: 2.
  • Worldwide wins: 23.
  • Majors: Masters (2013).
  • Masters moment: Screaming "C'mon Aussie" after making a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole in regulation last year that got him into a playoff that he won.
  • Short shots: He might be swinging the club as well and as consistently as anyone in the game. The only thing keeping the Australian from winning more is his putting, which he showed at Bay Hill when he couldn't hold a seven-shot lead on the weekend. His last three appearances at Augusta — tie for second, tie for eighth and win. Don't be surprised if he leaves Augusta with the same green jacket he brings with him.

• • •

Henrik Stenson, 38, Sweden

  • World ranking: 3.
  • Worldwide wins: 12.
  • Majors: None.
  • Masters moment: Attended the '99 Masters with his wife, who played college golf at South Carolina. Took one look at Jose Maria Olazabal and meant to place a bet on him, but he forgot. Olazabal went on to win.
  • Short shots: He was the ...

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Arnie's ceremonial tee shot to mark 50 years

Adam Schupak

ORLANDO, Fla. – If it seems like every year is an Arnold Palmer anniversary of some sort or another at the Masters, you’re not far off. This year, Palmer is celebrating the 50th anniversary of his last of four green jackets, which also turned out to be his final of seven major titles.

“Well, of course you never think you’re going to be at your last stop, but it was great,” Palmer recalled on a conference call Thursday. “I suppose that psychologically I had accomplished maybe more than I even realized by winning the Masters and walking up the 18th hole comfortably. That was something that was truly great for me.”

Palmer is preparing to reprise his role hitting a ceremonial tee shot as one of the three starters at the Masters with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player on April 9. During his annual press conference at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Palmer mentioned that after the Masters he was planning to undergo a minor back procedure to help alleviate pain and get him back on the golf course more frequently. Asked if his back was going to hold up for his duties at the Masters, Palmer said, “For one ...

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Youths target winning putt at Augusta

Jim McCabe

It would be a dream moment that almost every golfer is born with, though precious few get to realize. Mark O’Meara accomplished it, but not until his 15th try and at the age of 41. Phil Mickelson? He did it, too, but he was 33 and in his 12th attempt.

Akshay Bhatia and Zell Wilson? They may pull it off in their first attempts – at 12 and 9, respectively.

We’re talking a winning putt at the 18th hole on an April Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club.

Now if you have no trouble recalling O’Meara’s right-to-left curler and his arms raised to the sky, and you cannot forget the indelible image of Mickelson’s jumping for joy after his 18-footer fell true, you are probably scratching your head with the mention of Bhatia and Wilson.

They are children from Wake Forest, N.C., and Chicago, respectively, and along with 86 other youngsters from throughout the United States, they will have an opportunity this coming Sunday to feel the sort of magic that allows O’Meara and Mickelson to walk a little taller when they visit Augusta National each spring.

Though it might not have generated much ...

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Masters 2014: Odds to win at Augusta National

Odds to win the 2014 Masters at Augusta National:

  • Rory McIlroy . . . 8/1
  • Adam Scott . . . 10/1
  • Jason Day . . . 10/1
  • Phil Mickelson . . . 15/1
  • Dustin Johnson . . . 15/1
  • Henrik Stenson . . . 20/1
  • Matt Kuchar . . . 20/1
  • Bubba Watson . . . 20/1
  • Justin Rose . . . 25/1
  • Zach Johnson . . . 25/1
  • Jordan Spieth . . . 25/1
  • Brandt Snedeker . . . 30/1
  • Jason Dufner . . . 30/1
  • Keegan Bradley . . . 30/1
  • Sergio Garcia . . . 30/1
  • Charl Schwartzel . . . 40/1
  • Harris English . . . 40/1
  • Lee Westwood . . . 50/1
  • Luke Donald . . . 50/1
  • Louis Oosthuizen . . . 50/1
  • Hunter Mahan . . . 50/1
  • Graeme McDowell . . . 50/1
  • Ian Poulter . . . 50/1
  • Angel Cabrera . . . 50/1
  • Graham DeLaet . . . 50/1
  • Rickie Fowler . . . 60/1
  • Webb Simpson . . . 60/1
  • Bill Haas . . . 60/1
  • Ryan Moore . . . 60/1
  • Jimmy Walker . . . 60/1
  • Gary Woodland . . . 60/1
  • Steve Stricker . . . 80/1
  • Jim Furyk . . . 80/1
  • Hideki Matsuyama . . . 80/1
  • Thorbjorn Olesen . . . 100/1
  • Billy Horschel . . . 100/1
  • K.J. Choi . . . 100/1
  • Ernie Els . . . 100/1
  • Fred Couples . . . 100/1
  • Marc Leishman . . . 100/1
  • Nick Watney . . . 125/1
  • Peter Hanson . . . 125/1
  • Jamie Donaldson . . . 125/1
  • Martin Kaymer . . . 150/1
  • Nicolas Colsaerts . . . 150/1
  • Paul Casey . . . 150/1
  • Robert Garrigus . . . 150/1
  • Matteo Manassero ...

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Masters vets: First-timers must learn on fly

Bill Zimmerman

Plenty of big names in golf have failed to bring their "A" game along on their inaugural trip to Augusta National. This year's crop of Masters rookies ranges from PGA Tour winners Jordan Spieth and Kevin Stadler to foreign amateur-title winners Garrick Porteous and Chang-Woo Lee.

With that in mind, three former major-championship winners now well acquainted with the ESPN broadcast booth discussed their first trip to Augusta.

"The reason it was hard for me, because they paired me with Jack Nicklaus and I couldn't breathe for about four and a half hours, so that was my excuse," Curtis Strange quipped.

The 1988-89 U.S. Open champion, whose best finish at Augusta was T-2 in 1985 but who missed the Masters cut in his Tour rookie season of 1975, also offered some more serious memories of what made his first Masters tough.

"There's not a level lie out there, maybe one or two," he said. "That, as you know on TV, TV doesn't do that justice and it's so tough. It is really a hard golf course now, and you're off balance the entire day I think."

1993 PGA Championship winner Paul Azinger offered ...

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Porteous looks to break British Am slump in Masters

Alistair Tait

Don’t expect British Amateur champion Garrick Porteous to make the cut at Augusta National. History is against him.

Only two British Amateur champions have made the cut in the Masters during the last 33 years, and only seven have done so since the Masters introduced a cut in 1957.

Matteo Manassero in 2010 and Sergio Garcia in 1999 are the two players in recent times to play all four rounds at Augusta as reigning British Amateur champions. Before that you have to go back to 1980 to Jay Sigel finishing joint 26th. Peter McEvoy finished 53rd two years earlier. He remains the only English winner of the British Amateur to qualify for the last two rounds.

Steve Melnyk (1972), Bobby Cole (1967) and Deane Beman (1960) are the other three British Amateur champions to make the cut.

Porteous earned his Masters invite thanks to beating Finland’s Toni Hakula at Royal Cinque Ports last year. The former University of Tennessee player will be hoping he doesn’t do what British Amateur champions usually do and shoot a ton in the first round to make things hard in round two.

The average first-round score for British Amateur champions stands at ...

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