The Roars Will Return

By Adam BarrApril 7, 2007, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. ' I wouldnt worry too much.
 
Some Masters watchers, accustomed to the status quo, have lamented the absence of the frequent, pine-shuddering roars usually heard from corners of this beautiful golf course on tournament afternoons. For the 2007 Masters, in which balls have bounced, skidded, caromed, careened, lipped and gone loco ' done everything but behave ' the soundtrack has been described as muted.
 
Gone are the soft conditions that in recent years have made the greens seem incredibly receptive on some days. Gone as well are the sure birdies on shortish par-5s, the spinny wedges that sucked back and danced in golfs greatest garden, the guarantee of soaring second shots into Nos. 13 and 15. And gone are the roars that often accompanied these feats. The uninterrupted supply of pretty shots from the worlds best has simply dried up.
 
Natures A-Team has combined to bring on the drought. Rain has been sparse in eastern Georgia this spring. The northwest wind picked up Wednesday night, quartering right-to-left along the first fairway and playing mercilessly with the high shots needed for soft green landings all over the course. Scores have told the tale: In Saturday mornings chill (the wind shoved the temperature into the thirties when the first group set out at 10 a.m. EDT), the first four pairs could manage no better than bogey on the first hole. Eight guys, not a par among them.
 
But still, Im not worried. We will hear roars again, and pretty soon. I hear the Birdie Boosters wailing, But this is no fun! We dont want to embarrass the best players in the world, do we? Well, no. But I do want to challenge them. I want to see the best at this game bring the full measure of their physical and mental powers to the fore, especially at the games greatest championships.
 
In short, this Masters feels like a major should feel.
 
Toughness of this sort in a golf challenge is, like so many other things, a matter of degree. Somewhere between the old Bob Hope birdiefests and the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock, where things got so crusty by Sunday that balls could not be glued onto some greens, is the proper balance for a major challenge. Whether nature does it, or man applies his agronomic skill to make it happen, or some combination ensues, conditions like this are good for golf. It is a gift-free environment, every stroke saved a stroke well-earned, every mental disaster averted an athletic success of the highest magnitude. Come prepared, control yourself, or make Friday night plane reservations.
 
The winner of this Masters will be known as much for his survival skills as for his imagination. But make no mistake, he will be known for both.
 
And that makes me think a month ahead, to The Players. (The PGA TOUR has renamed the Players Championship to this simpler form.) The TPC Sawgrass has a new foundation, so to speak ' almost a foot of organic material that built up under the turf over a quarter century was removed (the bulldozers fired up right after the 2006 Players), and new, drainage-friendly sand has been put in. Then the turf was replaced. The effect will be a fast-draining course that plays hard and fast ' perhaps not always as firm and speedy as Royal Liverpool did for the 2006 Open Championship, in the middle of western Englands record heat wave ' but plenty of bounds, bounces, roll-outs and touch challenges. For fans of exciting golf, a game which has for centuries been meant to include a healthy dose of randomness, it could be a great week.
 
Like this one. As a matter of fact, it makes me want to roar. And as players figure out how to work with a hard and fast Augusta National, youll hear more roars here, too.
 
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    Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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    Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

    By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

    Memo to the golf gods:

    If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

    Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

    It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

    With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

    It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

    We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

    We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

    Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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    Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

    We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

    In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

    While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

    Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

    Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

    Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

    While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

    Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

    So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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    McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

    By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

    With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

    The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

    Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

    "I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

    McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

    But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

    "I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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    What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

    Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

    Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

    Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

    Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

    Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x