Masters Notes Angry Phil Fond Memories
It was one of the rare times Mickelson has shown anger inside the ropes.
Ditto for Augusta National officials, who tried unsuccessfully to find out which photographer committed the crime. Billy Payne, head of the media committee last year, banned photographers from the stand for the final round in the afternoon.
Mickelson recalled that incident when Payne became club chairman.
``Nobody ended up claiming that it was them, so no photographers were allowed up on that stand,'' Mickelson said in February. ``I think for somebody to make a tough call like that, who wants coverage of the tournament but realizes he doesn't want photographers to decide the outcome or integrity of the competition, I just really appreciate the decision-making.''
Lefty returned to Augusta National last week for a practice round with his father and brother (word has it the champ posted a 65 despite missing putts inside 15 feet on the last three holes).
Sitting around the clubhouse, he got a sneak peek at this year's official program.
Imagine his surprise when he reached pages 48-49, which feature a beautiful shot of Mickelson playing the 18th hole Sunday morning, fans lining the tree-framed fairway - and Lefty at the top of his swing.
It would seem that would be a sure way to find the culprit.
Alas, club officials have investigated.
A spokesman declined to say who took the picture, only that it came from a single frame of a digital camera that didn't make the offending click. Golf photographers have confirmed there is a brand of camera that can be programmed so that it would not make a noise that could be heard from 20 feet away in certain conditions.
WIN AND STAY HOME:
Augusta National is expected to change its criteria so that PGA TOUR winners - at least some of them - would qualify for the Masters. There were eight TOUR winners since the previous Masters who are not eligible, and it's tough to feel sorry for any of them except John Senden.
Three winners won opposite-field events (D.J. Trahan, Will MacKenzie and Eric Axley). Two winners didn't have another top-10 over the last year (Jeff Maggert and Mark Wilson). Corey Pavin's only other top 10 was at Pebble Beach, where he finished nine shots behind. Charley Hoffman had three other top 10s, one of those in the fall (Las Vegas) and another opposite the Ryder Cup (Texas Open).
But a case could be made for Senden.
He won the John Deere Classic and his national championship, the Australian Open. He also tied for second in Tampa, and was poised to climb into the top 50 and qualify for Doral until he suffered a severe stomach virus that forced him to withdraw from Bay Hill.
Unable to play the final two tournaments before the cutoff for the Masters, Senden wound up No. 53.
One week before the Masters, Golf Digest magazine is releasing its biennial survey of ``America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses,'' and Augusta National has dropped one spot to No. 3. Pine Valley tops the list, followed by Shinnecock Hills at No. 2.
But it could have been worse for the home of the Masters.
Earlier this month, Augusta National fell from No. 3 to No. 10 in the Golfweek magazine list of top 100 classic courses (pre-1960). This was brought to the attention of Tiger Woods.
``Maybe they can't draw the ball,'' Woods said about the Golfweek ranking.
The top 10 list from Golf Digest: Pine Valley, Shinnecock Hill, Augusta National, Cypress Point, Oakmont, Pebble Beach, Merion, Winged Foot, Seminole and Crystal Downs, appearing in the top 10 for the first time.
The top 10 classic courses from Golfweek: Cypress Point, Pine Valley, Shinnecock, Merion, Pebble Beach, Oakmont, National Golf Links, Crystal Downs, Prairie Dunes and Augusta National.
Phil Blackmar won't forget his first trip to the Masters. He was on the practice green on the day before the tournament began, looking at a slippery 4 1/2-foot putt, when a buddy asked him how he would play it if that putt was to win the Masters.
``I'd bomb right in there,'' Blackmar said.
It was early in his career, when he was young and bold and quite confident over those putts. Blackmar failed to notice, however, that another player was listening to their conversation.
``You'd do what?'' Jack Nicklaus said.
Nicklaus suggested lagging the putt so that if it missed, he still had a chance in a playoff. Slightly startled, Blackmar said he was proficient at that length and it might be his only shot at a green jacket.
Then his worst fear was realized. Nicklaus said to him, ``Let's see it.''
``We were close to the edge of the green, so the gallery picked up on this,'' Blackmar said. ``I was a little nervous, but I hit it firm, pulled it just a hair and it spun around the cup and went about 6 feet by. The fans let out this big sigh. Then Jack tries it. He goes into his crouch and barely touches it. It trickles ... and trickles ... and trickles ... and falls in. And the crowd goes nuts. And I'm just beet-red.''
Blackmar made the cut in his Masters debut, finishing 45th with rounds of 76-73-73-76.
Nicklaus was playing in his 28th Masters, and he did slightly better.
The year was 1986. It was Nicklaus' last Masters victory.
Oklahoma State golf coach Mike McGraw told Golfweek magazine that highly regarded Pablo Martin plans to turn pro after the NCAA championship in June. ... Tiger Woods has earned more money in 24 World Golf Championships ($17,182,500) than Sergio Garcia has in 141 starts on the PGA TOUR ($16,687,482). ... AT&T said it will offer video previews, highlights and other coverage of the Masters Tournament through its television services, the Internet and mobile phones.
STAT OF THE WEEK:
The Masters invites the top 10 players on the PGA TOUR money list through Doral, and Mark Wilson was at No. 12. He was No. 10 in the FedEx Cup standings.
``It didn't help anybody win, because he wins all the time.'' - Sergio Garcia, on whether Tiger Woods' dominance has helped raised the level of play on the PGA TOUR.
Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage
Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.
Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.
Swipe to see what’s up in my world. It’s long-winded.... short version, we lost the baby. Had to share this since we had shared the news already. I know you’re all so supportive and kind. I just couldn’t face it before. Now let’s get back to our regularly scheduled programming. #ihavealotoffeelings #andphotostocatchupon
“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”
The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.
“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia
This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.
The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.
Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.
The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.
A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.
And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.
Green jacket tour
Man of the people
Ace at 17th at Sawgrass
Departure from TaylorMade
Squashed beef with Paddy
Victory at Valderrama
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18
Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf
Well, this is a one new one.
According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:
“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”
Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.
“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.
The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.
“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”
The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.
Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.
Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.