The Dog Had a Badge

By Adam BarrApril 12, 2002, 4:00 pm
To borrow from the great Dave Barry, Im not making this up. I couldnt.
 
I was standing among the television trucks in the main parking lot at Augusta National Golf Club, just across the path from one of the entrances to the grounds. Beside this service entrance was a tent that a few Richmond County sheriffs deputies used as their base for the week. A deputy arrived, holding the leash of a handsome German Shepherd. As police officer and police dog walked by, I noticed a familiar, credit card-sized object pinned to the dogs collar.
 
Discrediting the evidence of my eyes, I strode over to the deputies and asked if I could admire their canine colleague.
 
Sure enough: The Shepherd wore a Masters badge with a violet stripe along the bottom, for tournament support staff. Such badges show the name and photograph of the bearer, and so did this one. This badge belonged to Schnapps, and his fuzzy headshot adorned the upper right-hand corner.
 
Schnapps, who Im told was polite because his handler had not identified me as a perpetrator, let me examine the credential. When I was done, I stared at him for a moment. I blinked. Schnapps blinked. He licked my hand and shifted where he sat. No one knew what to say.
 
Finally, a deputy piped up:
 
Yknow, they check his badge every time, too. Run it through the little card reader. He cant get in without it.
 
I then had a nice conversation with one of the deputies about what magnificent animals dogs are. But I dont remember much of our talk. I was wondering if the dog could maybe use his connections to get me Super Bowl tickets.
 
Knowing what I do about the Masters and the singular club that sponsors it, I found my thoughts at an interesting fork. Either 1) the folks at the National have a pleasantly quirky sense of humor, or 2) they are so serious about security that they plan to start issuing badges to other animals who may come on the grounds, such as the raccoons that surely hang out behind the media center, looking for half-eaten egg salad sandwiches.
 
Ive met some of the club members who work on the tournament, and Im betting on the sense-of-humor route. But what if its not? What if they put Schnapps picture on his badge to make sure some other German Shepherd didnt try to sneak in?
 
Sir, Im sorry, but this isnt you. See, the caramel portion of your ruff doesnt blend into the black part of your face this way.
 
Woof!
There is an unusual balance about this place. Augusta National is one of the most beautiful, calming places on earth. Yet it is a closely regulated mini-society, in which everyone has a place and the genteel atmosphere depends on folks following the rules. The club was patiently developed by a man who consorted with presidents and had a reputation for being absolutely unbending. Yet Clifford Roberts had such a finely developed sense of humor that he would go to the trouble to make a film (for the clubs use) in which he appeared to walk across water, specifically the pond on the 16th hole. The popular film poked fun in a number of directions, including back at its director.
 
People love to come back every year. Few run afoul of its many rules, written and unwritten: Attendees are not fans, and they are certainly not a mob. They are patrons. Players seek to nestle their shots close to hole locations, never pin placements. Never call a mound anything like a body bag, even in jest ' not if you ever want to come back.
 
At a cocktail party this week, I heard recounted a story in support of the notion that every time things look sweet at the National, they may not be. A player agent, a member of a class not revered by the National, was lunching with his player in the clubhouse after midday. The dining room was not crowded; in fact, hardly anyone was there. Neither the agent nor the player was making more than conversational noise. Nobody was dressed in anything alarming.
 
Nonetheless, after awhile, one of the few members in the room came over to the table and said, Gentlemen, youve been here long enough. Time for you to move on.
 
The agent was dumbfounded. Did he just say what I thought he said? was all he could think to say to his companion.
 
The identities were kept secret, so there is no way to determine whether this story was more than apocryphal. Doesnt really matter. True or not, it is a symptom of the envy that sometimes arises in situations involving haves and have-nots. Its the toughest ticket in sports, the club everyone secretly wants into (or at least wonders what it would be like), the golf course best represented over the years as what Heaven must be likeof course tales get told.
 
Fact is, its their club. When things get inconvenient, the men in the green jackets can sometimes be heard reminding everyone that they could, at any time, pull the rug out from under the whole enterprise. They organize this tournament out of love; they owe the world of golf exactly nothing. And if they ever owed anything, they have long since paid in full.
 
As inconvenient as some people sometimes find the maze of rules surrounding the Masters, those rules deserve a lot of credit for making the Masters what it is. As a ticket-taker and I concluded Tuesday while watching a patron get into a lather over slow badge checking, the secret this week is to be patient.
 
So next time I have to wait in line, Ill gladly find a way to pass the time. Perhaps Ill bring a box of Milk-Bones. Heeere, Schnappsnice doggiethats a boy
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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.