Fans Dont Let Rain Wash Them Away

By Associated PressApril 8, 2006, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- More than two hours after the rain started at the Masters, Rico Terry was still on a bench near the first fairway.
 
Sitting on a plastic bag, wearing a rain poncho and holding an umbrella over his head, he was perfectly dry. Around him, though, Augusta National was beginning to resemble a swamp Saturday afternoon and there was no sign when the skies would clear.
 
'If I was on the golf course waiting to play myself, I'd go home,' Terry said. 'But it's the Masters.'
 
If rain interrupts other golf tournaments, a few stalwart fans will stick it out. Most, though, head for the exits, figuring they can watch from the comfort of their home or hotel if play resumes.
 
Not at the Masters.
 
Badges are handed down from generation to generation. People wait years for a chance to buy tickets, and pay dearly when they finally get their hands on them. If it rains -- and it usually does at some point during the week -- so be it.
 
'This tournament is probably the most sacred sporting event in America,' said Dalton Lott, who makes the trip to Augusta National from Duncanville, Texas, and who waited out the delay in his car. 'The mystique, the prestige. To have an opportunity just to come to this tournament is the highlight of any sports fan's life.'
 
So it was no surprise that when play in the third round resumed after more than four hours of delay, there were still thousands of fans on the course.
 
'We just had tickets for today. It was today or nothing,' said Ed Stickler, whose wife, Cathy, was at her first Masters. 'It would have been devastating if we'd left and they had played.'
 
When the warning siren sounded to halt play, fans took shelter at gift shops, concession stands and bathrooms. The open area inside the main gates was a sea of green-and-white umbrellas.
 
Some simply set up their golf chairs and sat under their umbrellas.
 
'You just know it's going to rain one day,' said Penny Lowery, who has been attending the Masters for about 30 years. 'If it's lightning, you get out of the way. Otherwise, you stand in the rain and don't care.
 
'Just get a good cup of hot coffee and another pimento cheese sandwich.'
 
There were fans who didn't even bother leaving the course during the delay. Martin Owens and three friends were sharing one badge, and Saturday was his day to come to the tournament. His seat behind the eighth tee put him so close he could help golfers with their club selection, and he wasn't about to give it up.
 
Whitney and Chuck Whitehall had found a spot a few feet off the green at No. 2, hunkered down on a sheet of plastic underneath an umbrella.
 
'We're trying to be optimistic and hope it clears soon,' Whitney said. 'Plus, we have a real good spot on 16 that we don't want to give up,' Chuck added.
 
This is the fifth straight year rain has disrupted the Masters, and most fans know to come prepared. Those who didn't have rain jackets or rain suits wore ponchos, and almost everyone had an umbrella.
 
Though this was Ali Despard's first Masters, she'd been warned by her friend Will Egan, and was sporting a pair of lime green, rubber rain boots.
 
'I know the smell of fertilizer after it rains,' said Egan, attending his fourth Masters. 'And that you wear pants you throw away afterward.'
 
And that regardless how hard the rain falls, leaving is never an option.
 
'We flew in on the red-eye last night and we're leaving first thing Monday morning. We're here for no other reason,' said Despard, who is from Los Angeles. 'So we may as well stay in the rain.'
 
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    Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

    Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

    Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

    In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

    Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

    “I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

    Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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    Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

    In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


    Made Cut

    Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

    Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    September can’t get here quick enough.

    Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

    There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

    In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

    “I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “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.”

    The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

    Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

    Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

    The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

    The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

    “My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


    Missed Cut

    Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

    After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

    It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

    Tweet of the week:

    It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

    The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”