Step-by-Step Masters Week Guide
First of all, we at TGC Masters Mania Guide understand that quite a few of you have jobs run by bosses who have not yet entered the age of enlightened employee benefits. Therefore, you are not given your due: the all-expense-paid, badges-included trip to Augusta the first full week of April every year. So heres how to enjoy the Masters Tournament remotely.
Monday. Check the Internet for weather conditions in Augusta. Furrow your brow about any hint of Wednesday rain. Calculate the new landing area for drives on the lengthened first hole (hint: the far bunker is now 300 yards out). Imagine re-clubbing yourself after years of experience with that hole. Think of lengthened 11th hole. Hyperventilate. Take your medication. Get back to work. At home that night, watch tapes of Nicklaus in 1986. Hyperventilate.
Tuesday. Contemplate renewed importance of Eisenhowers Tree on No. 17, which is also longer. Think about learning to shape your drives. Give up on that. Check tournament website for player interviews while you eat lunch. Realize when youre done that you didnt taste a single bite of your tuna sandwich. If you live south of Baltimore, stop at local course on way home to putt and chip. If you live north of there, do it anyway. At night, watch TGC coverage. Then watch the re-air.
Wednesday. Wake to the thought of pummeling a drive on No. 2 and watching it roll way down the hill. Smell the pine in your nostrils. Over 10 a.m. coffee, ponder why this tournament and everything connected with it are so revered. Conclude that its not necessary to know why, but just to enjoy. Order egg salad for lunch. At home, watch TGC coverage while gripping and regripping your 52-degree wedge, the one you used to jar a birdie chip in the club championship last August, effectively cleaving your brother-in-laws heart in two. Smile. Do your Dr. Evil imitation.
Thursday. Arrive at work with a bold prediction. Make sure its Miguel Angel Jimenez or Brandt Jobe. Be utterly unshakable in your conviction that said player will win. Tune TV at your desk (What? You dont have a? Oh, fer Petes) to network coverage three hours before its due to come on. While taking calls from customers, let your voice trail off into complete distraction as a putt snakes its way into the hole on 10 for a birdie. At home, order a pizza and watch the highlight show. Invite the kids to join you. Shake your head when they decide to go upstairs and play video games. Make mental note to disinherit them.
Friday. When you wake up, your stomach hurts. No, really; it hurts. [wink] Better call in. Sleep in, then relax in front of TV while pain subsides. Medicate yourself with remains of Thursdays pizza. Have fun picking the best round that will still miss the cut. Listen to your blood pressure rise as the cut line wavers throughout the afternoon. Ignore family. Let someone else worry about dinner. Try to explain to the dog that walks arent all theyre cracked up to be.
Saturday. While mowing the lawn, grouse to yourself about the intense injustice that theres no morning TV coverage. Muse about Moving Day. Imagine birdying 16 and 17 to get onto the first page of the leaderboard as dusk falls. Hyperventilate. Pick grass clippings out of your teeth. At grocery store, almost collide with other crazed golf fans who, like you, are restocking their supplies of onion dip, black bean tortilla chips, and Michelob. (Note to Canadian fans: Insert Labatts where necessary.) Imagine sleeping on the lead.
Sunday. Clear your schedule of everything, and I mean everything. Make pancakes. Read Bernard Darwin. Have more coffee. Pace impatiently as noon approaches. Give spouse and kids wad of bills and send them off to bowling alley or movies. Smile broadly and fight back tears of joy as one child, the one you always knew was your favorite, asks if he or she can stay and watch the Masters with you.
As TV coverage begins, remember Masters past. Remember what it was like playing golf with your Mom or Dad when spring came. Resolve to call a long-lost golf buddythat evening. Cheer for every good shot, whether you like the player or not. Wish you had known Bobby Jones. Hug that child. Answer his or her questions patiently. Forget the world. Watch all the way through the jacket ceremony. After dinner, clean your clubs.
Monday. At the office, call for a Saturday tee time. Re-enter the world, slowly. Restart your golf year with a clean slate, a hopeful heart, and a renewed soul.
Email your thoughts to Adam Barr
Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59
Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.
While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.
He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.
"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."
Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.
"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."
Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot
When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.
Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.
"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"
The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.
Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.
"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."
DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.
Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.
"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."
Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.
Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.
"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."
Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.
"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."
LPGA lists April date for new LA event
The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.
When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.
The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.
The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.