The enduring mystique of the green jacket

By Associated PressApril 7, 2009, 4:00 pm
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AUGUSTA, Ga. ' Imagine the Masters champion slipping on a red jacket Sunday.
 
Of all the colors found at Augusta National ' the pink azaleas, the yellow jasmine, the white clubhouse ' no one knows why co-founders Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts selected green for what has become the most famous blazer in sports.
 
But it has become a prize like no other among the major championships.
 
The claret jug is oldest trophy in golf, first awarded the British Open champion in 1872. The Wanamaker Trophy is the heaviest, so much that even strongman Vijay Singh struggled to raise it when he won the PGA Championship. The U.S. Open is the only major that doesnt have a name for its trophy.
 
But there is a mystique about the green jacket.
 
Masters champions dont kiss it. They dont hoist it. They dont drink out of it.
 
They wear it.
 
When youre able to don the green jacket, its the highest privilege in golf, Zach Johnson said.
 
No matter what shirt youre wearing, it looks good, Fred Couples said.
 
Jones came up with the idea when he was at Hoylake for the 1930 British Open, the second leg of his Grand Slam. He was invited to dinner at Royal Liverpool, where he noticed 15 men wearing red coats with brass buttons. He was told that only captains of the club wore the red jackets, and one of them offered to give Jones his if he won the Open.
 
That coat now hangs in the clubhouse at Atlanta Athletic Club, his home course.
 
Jones and Roberts thought members should wear matching jackets during the tournament so patrons would know whom to ask for information, a tradition that began in 1937. They selected what the club refers to only as Masters Green for the color, with the famous Augusta National logo on the left crest and on the buttons.
 
Sam Snead was the first Masters champion to be awarded the green jacket after winning in 1949, a gesture by the club to make the winner an honorary member. All past champions also were given one.
 
The list of those who have worn the green jacket is short and mostly distinguished.
 
It includes the 44 players who have won the Masters, with Trevor Immelman the latest to join the club. It includes Augusta National members ' the club wont say how many, but its an exclusive club.
 
And it includes Mike Weirs grandfather.
 
The current Masters champion is the only person allowed to take the green jacket off club property, and Weir made sure his grandfather had a chance to try it on.
 
We had some pictures made before he passed away, Weir said. That was pretty cool.
 
Only one of the jackets was never returned. Gary Player swears it was an innocent mistake.
 
He won his first Masters in 1961, and a year later presented Arnold Palmer with the green jacket at the closing ceremony. Player, however, took his jacket home to South Africa after the 62 Masters, and there it remains.
 
I assumed it was mine, Player said. I got a call from Clifford Roberts and he said, Gary, I believe youve taken the Masters jacket home. Youre not supposed to do that. And I said, Mr. Roberts, if you want it, you better come and fetch it. He appreciated the humor and told me I must never wear it around. Its in a plastic bag in my closet.
 
No one has won more green jackets than Jack Nicklaus, who won his first Masters in 1963 and his sixth Masters in 1986.
 
But he didnt have his own green jacket until 1998.
 
The club usually finds a jacket that will fit the champion for the ceremony, then makes him one of his own. But something fell through the cracks, and each year Nicklaus wound up borrowing a green jacket for the Champions Dinner.
 
Nicklaus shared this tale in 1997 with former chairman Jack Stephens, who demanded that Nicklaus get his own jacket.
 
I said, Jack, its such a great story, I dont want to ruin it, Nicklaus said. I came back in 98, and Stephens had a note in my locker that said, You have an appointment in the pro shop to get a jacket.
 
Everyone talks about the green jacket. I didnt get one until 1998.
 
Tiger Woods and his crew celebrated his historic victory in 1997 until the wee hours of morning when the champion disappeared. Someone cracked open the door to his room and saw him asleep, clutching the green jacket like a blanket.
 
I didnt fall asleep, Woods protested when reminded of the story.
 
Passed out?
 
Thank you, he said with a smile.
 
Woods was given a 44 long when he won his first green jacket, which felt big enough to be a blanket. But there was a reason for that.
 
I remember the guys who have won, theyve always said the jacket shrinks over the years, Woods said. I dont know if it actually shrinks. Guys just might fill out a little bit more. So, yeah, my jacket is a just a touch big.
 
So much history, so much mystique, all for what Immelman described as an incredible piece of clothing.
 
Immelman was playing in Asia last year when he landed in Japan. He carried the green jacket in a suit bag, but it wasnt long before some golf fans recognized him, and realized what was in the bag. He said they began to cry.
 
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the mystique that goes along, and the history that goes along with Augusta National is just something that not many sports have, he said. That was a cool feeling, and something nice to be part of.
 

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    By Associated Press, Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 1:50 pm

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick shot a second straight 5-under-par 67 to secure a one-stroke lead halfway through the European Tour's season-ending Tour Championship on Friday.

    At 10 under after two rounds on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estate, Fitzpatrick leads English compatriot Tyrrell Hatton, whom he beat by one shot to win the title last year.

    Hatton moved into contention with a brilliant 9-under 63, a round soured only by a closing bogey on the par-5 18th hole.

    In the Race to Dubai, main protagonists Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose experienced contrasting emotions to their opening rounds. Fleetwood boosted his chances by rising into a tie for 11th at 6 under after a 65. Rose endured a three-putt bogey on the 18th to finish with a 70, and dropped on the leaderboard so he's just two shots ahead of Fleetwood.

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    Fleetwood needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

    Fitzpatrick made two bogeys but eagled the 14th, and five birdies contributed to his 67.

    Overnight leader Patrick Reed is now three back following an even-par 72. Reed is in the field thanks to a European Tour regulation that allows the Presidents Cup to count as an official event, thus allowing him to meet his quota of tournaments played.

    Fitzpatrick was helped immensely also by the 18th, where Hatton, Rose, and Reed all made bogeys. Fitzpatrick birdied the hole for a second straight day with a 25-foot putt.

    ''I said to my caddie, we were putting really, really well all week so far,'' Fitzpatrick said.

    ''The thing is, you get so many fast putts around here, even uphill into the green, they are still running at 12, 13 (on the stimpmeter) even. You've just got to be really sort of careful. Every putt is effectively a two-putt. You've got to control your pace well and limit your mistakes, because it's easy to three-putt out here.''

    Rose, hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey, was disappointed with his finish despite playing solid golf from tee to green.

    ''To make six (on 18) just ends the day on the wrong note, but other than that, I played really well on the back nine,'' Rose said.

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    Fleetwood resurrected his chances of winning the Order of Merit with a 65, eight shots better than his opening round. His only bogey of the day came on the seventh after an errant drive, but that was the only mistake on a solid day that saw him make eight birdies.

    Fleetwood spent hours on the putting green after his first round.

    ''I needed a low one today for (a tournament win and the Order of Merit),'' he said. ''Luckily, I got a good score.''

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    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 12:16 am

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Chris Kirk holed an 18-foot putt for eagle on his final hole for a 9-under 63 and a one-shot lead Thursday in the RSM Classic.

    Kirk played the par 5s on the Plantation Course at Sea Island Golf Club in 5 under.

    ''I kind of hit my putter on the fringe a little bit and I wasn't sure it was going to get there, but that was just kind of the day that it was,'' Kirk said. ''Even when I thought it wasn't quite going to work out, it still went in the middle of the hole.''

    The seven lowest scores of the opening round came on the Plantation Course during a picturesque afternoon on the Golden Isles. Sporting a University of Georgia hat Thursday, Kirk won at Sea Island four years ago for the second of his four PGA Tour victories.

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    ''I think it played a little easier today,'' Dahmen said. ''The wind was down, greens were a little softer over here on the Plantation side. But just kept the ball in front of me and made a bunch of 8- to 10-footers.

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    Harman shot 69, and Watson had a 71.

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    NAPLES, Fla. – Sarah Jane Smith is making the most of the devoted efforts of Sean Foley this week.

    Foley’s prize pupil, Justin Rose, is in the hunt at the World Tour Championship in the United Arab Emirates, looking to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, but Foley isn’t there with him.

    Foley promised to help Smith this week, and he’s living up to the pledge, making the trip to Naples.

    “At 33, Sarah is in her prime,” Foley told GolfChannel.com. “She is going to hold a trophy at some point. She is too skilled not to win.”

    Foley's extra attention is paying off for Smith.


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    With a 6-under-par 66, Smith moved into early contention to make her first LPGA title memorable at the CME Group Tour Championship. She’s tied for the first-round lead with Taiwan rookie Peiyun Chien.

    “I just seem to play my best with him,” Smith said.

    Foley, the former coach to Tiger Woods, was No. 10 in Golf Digest’s Top 100 teacher rankings released this fall.

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    “As a coach, you try to get a player to see something in themselves that is already there,” Foley said.

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    Seeking awards sweep, Park 1 off lead

    By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:03 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park made a strong start in her bid to make LPGA history with an epic sweep of the year’s major awards.

    Park opened the CME Group Tour Championship Thursday with a 5-under-par 67, moving her a shot off the lead.

    Park is looking to join Nancy Lopez as the only players to win the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park has already clinched the Rookie of the Year Award.

    Park, 24, can also walk away with the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Race to the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot.


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    Nobody has ever swept all those awards.

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    Park played the course just once before Thursday’s start, in Wednesday’s pro-am.

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