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Jim McCabe
Vaughn Taylor received a sponsor's exemption into the RBC Heritage, only his second start on the PGA Tour in 2014.
Vaughn Taylor received a sponsor's exemption into the RBC Heritage, only his second start on the PGA Tour in 2014.

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – No matter which of the routes you take, your view is of country roads as you wind your way from Augusta, Ga., to this golf mecca at the edge of the mighty Atlantic. As scenic rides go, it’s not likely to get nominated for one of AAA’s best driving experiences, but the trip was one 37 PGA Tour members gladly took on in recent days.

Correction, make that 38. The thing is, Vaughn Taylor, unlike the other 37, had been at his home in Augusta and not competing in the Masters.

We say ...

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Jeff Rude
Should Augusta National consider Bubba-proofing the golf course after the long-hitter won two out of the last three Masters?
Should Augusta National consider Bubba-proofing the golf course after the long-hitter won two out of the last three Masters?

Jeff Rude’s “Hate To Be Rude” column appears on Golfweek.com on Wednesday.

• • •

Fourteen years ago, your correspondent spent four interesting hours in the Cypress, Calif., house where Tiger Woods grew up. During that long interview session with father Earl Woods in his living room, the topic of Tiger-proofing Augusta National came up. The kid was less than three years removed from winning the Masters by 12 strokes and was in the midst of what would become the most brilliant of his many remarkable seasons.

Earl Woods was dressed in a gray heather sweatsuit and wore no shoes or ...

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Jim McCabe
Jordan Spieth, fresh off a T-2 finish at the Masters, was hit by a wedge shot from his amateur playing partner during the pro-am at the RBC Heritage.
Jordan Spieth, fresh off a T-2 finish at the Masters, was hit by a wedge shot from his amateur playing partner during the pro-am at the RBC Heritage.

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Errant shots are common occurrences at PGA Tour stops. Just ask the dozens of spectators who’ve received autographed gloves and balls after being hit in the back or the shoulder.

But it’s not often that it’s the PGA Tour player who gets hit, as happened to Jordan Spieth in Wednesday’s pro-am at the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links.

“He felt really bad, but I kept telling him that I’m fine,” Spieth said of the amateur partner who sprayed a wedge shot up around the 18th green. Spieth said ...

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Jim McCabe
Bob Toski doesn't accept payment for teaching PGA Tour pros -- but he did ask Ken Duke to take him to Augusta National.
Bob Toski doesn't accept payment for teaching PGA Tour pros -- but he did ask Ken Duke to take him to Augusta National.

Prepared for the next trio of players who would proceed from the practice green to the first tee for Round 2 of the Masters, the marshal held the rope in his left hand, ready to move and stretch it out so that a passageway was cleared.

Keen on how the marshal was holding the rope, a gentleman stood quietly to the side and made an observation. “Look, he’s supinating,” said Bob Toski, pointing to the marshal’s hand, which was wrapped around the rope. “You know who the first one was to talk about supinate? (Ben) Hogan.”

Toski smiled ...

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Jim McCabe
Despite finishing T-5, Rickie Fowler struggled on the par 5s at Augusta National.
Despite finishing T-5, Rickie Fowler struggled on the par 5s at Augusta National.

Four days, four rounds, countless scoring curiosities at the Masters. Here are a few:

• If you’re thinking that long-hitting Bubba Watson ate up the par 5s, well, with an eagle and six birdies he definitely played them well. But Bernhard Langer, a Champions Tour guy, also went 8 under, so it’s not as if Watson won the tournament on the longer holes.

• Chris Kirk played the par 5s best, going 12 under. He birdied the par-5 second all four days, the eighth three times, the 13th three times and the 15th twice. In Round 2, he made birdies ...

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Jim McCabe
Adam Scott joined a long list of great players that failed to repeat as Masters champ.
Adam Scott joined a long list of great players that failed to repeat as Masters champ.

Much was made of Adam Scott’s tough task of successfully defending his Masters title – and for good reason. Statistics shows that it’s the toughest of the majors to defend.

Scott failed, of course, and that puts him in good company. So did 74 other defending champs. Only three times in 77 attempts have players won a second straight Masters: Jack Nicklaus in 1966, Nick Faldo in 1990 and Tiger Woods in 2002.

Three of 77 is a putrid percentage of .0389.

Compare that with the other majors:

U.S. Open: The defending champion has prevailed seven times in ...

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April 16, 2014 | 11:01 a.m.

Jason Day out 3 weeks with thumb injury

Jason Day has a cast on his left thumb and will not return to competition until The Players Championship.
Jason Day has a cast on his left thumb and will not return to competition until The Players Championship.

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — Jason Day has a cast on his left hand to immobilize his injured thumb and isn't expected to return to competition until The Players Championship in three weeks.

Day's agent, Bud Martin, says the cast was put on Wednesday as a precaution.

Day injured his thumb while winning the Match Play Championship in late February. He took six weeks off before playing at the Masters, where he barely made the cut.

Martin says the inflammation is deep and easily irritated by simple tasks. He's expected to wear the cast for two weeks ...

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Categories: Jason Day, Pro, PGA Tour
Cassie Stein
The Players Championship will move to a three-hole aggregate starting in 2014. (Shown here is the 2013 Players Championship, Tiger Woods).
The Players Championship will move to a three-hole aggregate starting in 2014. (Shown here is the 2013 Players Championship, Tiger Woods).

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem announced on April 16 that beginning this year The Players Championship will go into a three-hole, aggregate playoff in an event of a tie.

Up until 2013, it was a sudden-death playoff to determine the champion.

The playoff holes will be 16,17 and 18, combining a player’s score on those three holes to determine the winner.

“Holes 16, 17 and 18 of The Players Stadium Course are perhaps the most dramatic closing holes in professional golf from a risk-reward standpoint, as they test all facets of a player’s physical and mental game ...

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Bill Zimmerman
Bubba Watson's win in the 2014 Masters came amid lower television ratings on CBS and ESPN.
Bubba Watson's win in the 2014 Masters came amid lower television ratings on CBS and ESPN.

Enthralling as Bubba Watson's shotmaking was Sunday during his Masters victory, it couldn't overcome several factors that led to a ratings drop.

CBS' broadcast of the final round from Augusta National dropped 24 percent year-over-year to a 7.8 rating, USA Today reported. It was even down from Watson's win two years ago, which drew an 8.1.

ESPN said Saturday that its Thursday and Friday telecasts averaged a 1.6 rating, down from 2.5 a year earlier. CBS' Saturday broadcast drew a 4.4, down from 6.3 a year earlier.

Tiger Woods' April 1 ...

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Bill Zimmerman
Tiger Woods underwent back surgery after the 2014 WGC-Cadillac Championship, missed the Masters and might not return in time for the U.S. Open at Pinehurst.
Tiger Woods underwent back surgery after the 2014 WGC-Cadillac Championship, missed the Masters and might not return in time for the U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

Tiger Woods, who underwent surgery last month and withdrew from the Masters on April 1, seemingly will be in recuperation mode "past the U.S. Open," his friend and Golf Channel analyst Notah Begay III told CBS Sports Radio.

As Woods missed the Masters last week, viewership dipped as Bubba Watson won at Augusta National. He remained World No. 1 as the three players who could have taken the top spot – Adam Scott, Jason Day and Henrik Stenson – didn't contend at the Masters.

In a statement on his website April 1, Woods had said that he was expected to ...

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Brentley Romine
Bubba Watson during the 2014 Masters at Augusta National.
Bubba Watson during the 2014 Masters at Augusta National.

Bubba Watson's second Masters victory vaulted him to first in the latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings.

Watson replaced Jimmy Walker in the top spot, running his point total to 6,258.984. Walker, a three-time winner this season on PGA Tour, is second with 4,459.071 points.

Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Matt Kuchar, Jason Dufner, Phil Mickelson and Harris English also are in the top nine. Zach Johnson is 10th, less than 100 points behind English.

Nine players automatically qualify for the U.S. team while three more players will be selected by U.S ...

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Golfweek Staff
Bubba Watson, after winning the Masters for the second time, receives the green jacket of Augusta National from last year's champion, Adam Scott.
Bubba Watson, after winning the Masters for the second time, receives the green jacket of Augusta National from last year's champion, Adam Scott.

Masters two-time champion Bubba Watson was congratulated by peers and fans all over the world.

• • •

Jordan Spieth, ‏@JordanSpieth: "Dream come true competing at Augusta! Deserving champion in @bubbawatson incredibly played. Stinging badly but it's just fuel going forward!"

Tom Watson, @TomWatsonPGA: "Way to go Bubba !!! Enjoy your victory. See you on the plane to Gleneagles"

Paul Azinger, ‏@PaulAzinger: "Congratulations @bubbawatson and family, also to great caddy @jtedscott on an impressive @The_Masters victory. #HardEarned"

Azinger: "2 KINDS OF GOLFERS. 'Those that need to know a little and those that need to know it all' ~Byron Nelson~ ARTIST vs ENGINEER @bubbawatson ...

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Brentley Romine
Tiger Woods during a 2012 news conference at Augusta National.
Tiger Woods during a 2012 news conference at Augusta National.

Despite talk that he could lose his No. 1 ranking following the Masters, Tiger Woods remained in the top spot of the Official World Golf Ranking Sunday.

With 8.8665 points, Woods, who did not play at Augusta National after undergoing back surgery, is still 0.5837 points ahead of second-ranked Adam Scott, who tied for 14th in his Masters title defense.

Sunday's winner of the green jacket, Bubba Watson, who also won the tournament in 2012, jumped to fourth, improving eight spots from a week ago. Jordan Spieth, the runner-up along with Jonas Blixt, cracked the top 10 ...

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Bill Zimmerman
Bubba Watson tweeted a selfie photo with his wife, Angie, and a Waffle House crowd after winning the 2014 Masters in Augusta, Ga.
Bubba Watson tweeted a selfie photo with his wife, Angie, and a Waffle House crowd after winning the 2014 Masters in Augusta, Ga.

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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James Achenbach
Jordan Spieth posted an even-par 72 to finish second in his first Masters appearance.
Jordan Spieth posted an even-par 72 to finish second in his first Masters appearance.

Editor's note: James Achenbach is covering his 44th Masters, taking in all that Augusta National has to offer and will be providing his daily awards throughout the 2014 tournament.

• • •

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Without further adieu, the championship edition of Achie's Awards to close a dramatic week of highs and lows at Augusta National.

The Mayor of Bagdad award could be for none other than Masters champion Bubba Watson.

Lost in the Bubba shuffle was his skill at talking and explaining himself. He is extremely sincere and tries to thoughtfully answer every question. He presents himself very well. Someday he ...

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