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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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.