Augusta knew the answers and passed the test

By Associated PressApril 13, 2009, 4:00 pm
Bookmark and Share
AUGUSTA, Ga. ' Masters chairman Billy Payne called it an important test for Augusta National to regain its personality as a golf course where its as much fun to listen as it is to watch.
 
One can only suspect now that Payne was bluffing.
 
He knew the answer before Chad Campbell set a Masters record by opening the tournament with five straight birdies, before a record 17 eagles were recorded in the second round, and before a dozen players went to the back nine Sunday thinking they could win.
 
I think we have it about right, Payne said on the eve of the Masters.
 
The score required for the three-man playoff won by Angel Cabrera was 12-under 276. That was the lowest score since 2005, the last year before the final installment of changes (meaning extra length).
 
Not everyone went for the green on the 13th and 15th holes Sunday, but it sure seemed that way. Both holes played to an average of about 4.3, lower than some of the par 4s. But those two holes are what make the back nine special, the chance for someone to make up ground quickly.
 
The volume was cranked up. The pressure was ramped up.
 
Theres roars going up all over the place out there, and thats what its all about, really, Graeme McDowell said after his final round Sunday. Its supposed to be entertaining for the crowds. Thats what these people come to see.
 
Payne needed some help from Mother Nature, but not that much.
 
After three practice rounds of bone-dry conditions, the greens were surprisingly soft and receptive in the first round. Had officials kept them firm, there would not have been a record 19 rounds in the 60s.
 
On the scorecard, Augusta National was 10 yards shorter, with the only official change on the first hole. On the golf course, expanded tee boxes at Nos. 7 and 15, for example, allowed for the tee markers to be moved forward and the holes to be far less frightening.
 
Augusta National is more than a quarter-mile longer than when Tiger Woods won his first Masters, but the length was necessary. It only needed a few years for players to catch up to the changes and overcome their intimidation. It needed a week of good weather, and for a few small adjustments on the tees and greens.
 
That made everything about right.
 
It sounded perfect.
 
Even for those watching from home, it was hard it ignore the cheers. They could be heard from a nearby hole even as the camera was trained on a player standing over a putt.
 
One of the more fascinating scenes happened early in the final round, when Cabrera was playing his pitch to the par-5 second hole. Then came a ground-shaking roar as his ball was in flight. Just 40 yards away is the seventh green, where Phil Mickelson deposited an iron a foot away from the cup for another birdie.
 
It was like that all afternoon.
 
The Augusta Chronicle in Mondays edition devoted a half-page to a sequence of roars, and most of the entries were about five minutes apart. Mickelsons birdie at the seventh. Woods eagle at the eighth. Dustin Johnson making consecutive eagles, only the second player in Masters history to do that. Kenny Perry making his first birdie from 20 feet on No. 12.
 
The last three years, about the only excitement was paying $1.50 for a pimiento cheese sandwich.
 
Numbers alone dont do this Masters justice.
 
The lowest score of the final round was merely a 66 by Masters rookie John Merrick. Cabrera and Perry, the co-leaders after 54 holes, each closed with a 71. Campbell shot a 69 to join them in the playoff.
 
For all their fireworks, Mickelson only shot a 67, Woods a 68.
 
Mickelson might look back one day at this major as one he let slip away, although certainly not as dramatic as his double bogey on the 18th hole at Winged Foot in the 2006 U.S. Open. After a record-tying 30 on the front nine, he played back nine in 37 ' a 9-iron into the water on No. 12, and missed putts for eagle at No. 15 and birdie at No. 17, both from about 4 feet, neither even hitting the hole. He finished three behind.
 
The magic of the Masters, however, is not so much about the score as it is the opportunity.
 
Woods also had his chances, twice grazing the cup with eagle putts. Campbell had two good looks at eagle, and he gave himself a good shot at birdie on the 18th hole.
 
Oddly enough, Cabrera was about the only player who didnt give himself great chances. He missed the green to the right at No. 15 and had to scramble for birdie. The key putt might have been his 18-footer for birdie on the par-3 16th after Perry nearly made an ace.
 
Yes, the Masters allows for a charge. But it also requires a steady hand.
 
For those ready to jump on Perry for his bogey-bogey finish to slip into a playoff, remember that the great Tiger Woods did the same thing in 2005 after that famous chip-in on the 16th hole. The difference is that Woods made birdie on the first playoff hole.
 
There is so much to remember about this Masters ' the Woods-Mickelson pairing that no one wanted to see end, Perry going birdie-birdie-bogey-bogey, Cabreras par save from the trees in the playoffs.
 
Augusta National passed this important test with flying colors.
 
There is an Argentine in a green jacket.
 
And there are millions of fans who cant wait for next year.
 

Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Masters Tournament
  • Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

    By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

    Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

    Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

    What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

    Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

    Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

    Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

    Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

    The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

    Lexi Thompson:

    Baking time!!

    A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

    David Feherty:

    Jack Nicklaus:

    GC Tiger Tracker:

    Steve Stricker:

    Golf Channel:

    Frank Nobilo:

    Ian Poulter:

    Tyrone Van Aswegen:

    Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.