At the Masters Par is Merely Another Number

By Associated PressApril 7, 2007, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- They walked off Augusta National much the way they came on it, two by two, bundled against the cold. Their misery finally over, they trudged into the scorer's shack where the carnage could be tallied.
 
Phil Mickelson lingered longer than most. He had assigned himself some extra work to do, and the warmth of the tiny green shack next to the 18th green seemed just the place to do it.
 
'Just checking scores, figuring out where I'm at and where I need to go,' Mickelson said. 'I've got to get a game plan on how to shoot a round in the 60s.'
 
Good luck with that, Phil. That's about as easy as solving global warming.
 
Not that global warming was a major concern on this spring Saturday in Augusta, where record cold threatened both the azalea bushes and the sanity of players who pretty much already live on the edge mentally anyway.
 
There were plenty of other things to worry about, though, most of them involving some new variation of getting the proverbial square peg into a round hole.
 
In this case, it was getting a round golf ball into a round hole, something the 60 players who ventured out on this wintry day get paid to do every day. They're usually quite good at it, particularly this one fellow named Tiger Woods.
 
But on a day when the course was as easy to hate as it was lovely to look at, there were so many wrecks going on that they might have held the Daytona 500 in Amen Corner.
 
Just off the beautifully manicured fairways were billions of trees and oceans of water to threaten wayward balls. The greens were so hard and slick they were better suited to bowling balls than Pro VI's.
 
Or maybe it just seemed that way for those unfortunate enough to find out what the guys in the green jackets really had in mind when they decided that enough was enough and people had better quit messing with their golf course.
 
Believe it or not, they actually moved some tees up and watered the greens in a last-minute but ultimately futile effort not to make things any more embarrassing than they already were.
 
They held a Masters, and a U.S. Open broke out.
 
'It was like trying to land a golf ball on your driveway, but your driveway has mounds on them and they stick the pin near the mounds,' Rich Beem said.
 
Beem is a funny guy, but there was nothing funny about what unfolded before the shivering patrons of Augusta National on this afternoon. It's hard to find much humor on a day when the two co-leaders going into the round couldn't even break 80.
 
One by one, players collapsed, staggering to the finish in the worst day of scoring in the Masters since they went to Bentgrass greens in 1981. Things were so bad that anybody turning in a scorecard should have been handed a box of Kleenex.
 
Stuart Appleby had the most to cry about, though Aussies generally don't do that kind of thing. He was 1 under and leading by two shots when he came to the 17th hole, yanked a drive left and walked off the green with a triple bogey 7.
 
Not to worry, mate. With everyone else spitting it up around him, he'll still have a one-shot lead to sleep on, assuming the nightmares don't interfere.
 
'The course is just ready to slap you in the head if you do anything wrong,' Appleby said.
 
Woods wasn't immune, bogeying the last two holes to ruin what had been a remarkably steady round under the circumstances. Little did he know walking off the 18th green with a scowl on his face an hour ahead of the leaders that things would go so south for them that he would be playing in the final group on Sunday.
 
Woods was one of the lucky ones. He was one of only two players to shoot par.
 
Only one player broke par, and it wasn't surprising that it was Retief Goosen. When you've been struck by lightning on the golf course, slick greens are the least of your worries.
 
This Masters has been tough from the opening ceremonial tee shot that Arnold Palmer pulled into the left rough on Thursday, and it's been that way by design. The green jackets added yards, trees, rough and sand last year to make it more of a test for today's big hitters, and they succeeded beyond expectations.
 
It doesn't figure to get any better on Sunday, a day when viewers are used to watching a back nine duel of eagles and birdies. The course is so dry and hard that they could turn the sprinklers on all night and it wouldn't make a difference. And there are only so many easy pin placements to be had.
 
Woods, of course, will be a heavy favorite to win for the fifth time here. He's just a stroke behind, and there's no one else in the top seven who has ever won a major, much less 12 of them.
 
But don't count Mickelson out. He is the defending champion, and he is the only player who was concocting a game plan even while others around him were signing their scorecards.
 
Best of all, the late collapses mean he probably doesn't even need anything in the 60s anymore.
 
Now if he could just do something about global warming.
 
Related Links:
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    Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

    Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

    The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...


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    And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

    Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

    He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

    Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

    Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

    Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

    Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

    Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

    Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title


    Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

    Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

    Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open


    Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

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    Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

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    Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

    Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut


    Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

    Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club


    Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

    Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth


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    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

    Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

    By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

    The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

    They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

    Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

    Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

    Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

    ''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

    The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

    In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

    Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.