Memorable Shots a Masters Tradition

By Associated PressApril 2, 2006, 4:00 pm
They can stretch Augusta National beyond the county line, or move the tees downtown, as Jack Nicklaus once jokingly suggested. They can add a pond and remove a bunker, plant trees and cut them down.
But there is one thing about the Masters that doesn't change.

Somewhere along the way to a green jacket lies a shot so incredible, so unforgettable, that it becomes part of the legacy of the Masters, a signature moment on a stage built for such drama.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods' added to Masters lore with his chip in at the 16th en route to his victory last year.
Gene Sarazen put the Masters on the map with his 'shot heard 'round the world,' a 4-wood from 235 yards on the par-5 15th that went into the cup for a double eagle and carried him into a playoff in 1935. And that was before television was around.
'It was just a piece of luck,' Sarazen said.
And then there's Tiger Woods.
His 2 on the scorecard last year came with a 60-degree sand wedge from a much smaller distance, about 30 feet from behind the green to the hole, a shot that traveled twice that length by the time it climbed up the ridge on the par-3 16th, stopped like a school bus crossing railroad tracks, then made a slow, tantalizing
trek toward the cup.
It stopped on the lip two full seconds, and history pulled it into the hole.
'I was never thinking it had a chance,' said Steve Williams, Woods' caddie who stood by his side, crouching, hoping for one more turn, his heart stopped like the thousands of fans surrounding the green and millions watching on TV. 'It was slowing down, and I said, 'I can't believe it's going to be short.' But for some reason, it kept going. It was just amazing. You're just about to go forward and give whatever your reaction you're going to give, and then it stops.
'And then, boom!'
Sarazen and Woods provided bookend memories, 70 years apart, shots that define the magic of the Masters.
No telling what this year will bring, even on an Augusta National course that again has been strengthened by adding 155 yards on six holes in chairman Hootie Johnson's attempt to keep the course current with the times.
Woods is the defending champion, joining Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer as the only players with at least four green jackets. He is remembered for the U-turn chip on the 16th green, but he is more proud of the 3-wood to the fairway, the 8-iron to 15 feet and the birdie putt to beat Chris DiMarco in a playoff.
The Masters starts Thursday without Nicklaus, who competed at Augusta National for the last time a year ago. Some say the longer course will make improbable a back-nine charge such as the one Nicklaus delivered 20 years ago when he shot 30 to win his sixth Masters.
But there will be something mystical that other majors rarely offer.
Seems like there always is.
Larry Mize chipping in from 140 feet to rip the heart out of Greg Norman. Fred Couples' ball rolling back toward Rae's Creek on the 12th hole, stopped by a blade of grass. Nicklaus making a 45-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole, as Tom Weiskopf and Johnny Miller watched dejectedly from the tee box.
'You can feel there is an aura seeping out of the ground,' DiMarco said. 'You remember Jack making that putt up the hill, and you remember Davis (Love III) chipping up the hill. I try to forget Tiger chipping in.'
Woods strives for perfection, which is why he is so proud of the 8-iron into the 18th green in the playoff. But even he concedes he will be remembered more, if not forever, because of that chip.
He had a one-shot lead and was on the ropes, hitting an 8-iron that went too far and too much to the left, and he was lucky it found grass behind the 16th green, especially after DiMarco hit his tee shot into 15 feet.
'I knew that it was going to be virtually one of the most difficult shots you could possibly have on the whole golf course,' Woods said.
He feared the ball was against the first cut of rough, and was relieved to see he had room to get the sand wedge on it, although he had to pick up the club quicker than he would have liked.
'After I saw where the ball was, I thought I had an opportunity to put the ball inside of Chris, which was about 15 feet,' he said. 'And to be honest with you, that's all I was trying to do. Obviously, turned out a little better than that.'
It was important to get the chip inside DiMarco for two reasons. If DiMarco made his birdie putt, Woods could salvage par and lose only one shot, and still have a share of the lead. Or if DiMarco missed -- and he had done that plenty in the final round -- a par would maintain the lead and give Woods enormous momentum.
But birdie?
No one imagined that. Not Woods. Not DiMarco. And not Williams, who has seen Woods do the unthinkable.
'It was one of those shots you can stand there with 100 balls, and never do it again,' Williams said.
There was no discussion about the club -- a 60-degree wedge. The idea was to hit a low spinner up the hill so that it slowed to a stop, rolled down the ridge to the cup and ideally stopped about 4 feet away at best, under the hole.
'I had a spot picked out,' Williams said. 'When it landed, I knew it was going to be a good shot. It got to the top of the hill, stopped, but I expected it to run farther to our right. It rolled a lot straighter than I thought. I think the golfing gods may have been there, because it broke a little less that what you think.'
The cheer might have registered on the Richter scale.
'He screamed so loud ... if you watch on TV, you cannot even think about hearing him,' DiMarco said. 'I said, 'Good job' to him four times at the top of my lungs before he saw me mouthing it and said thanks. You can't hear.'
Woods' miracle chip for birdie might embody what the Masters brings, but it also speaks to his own legacy as the dominant player of his time, on pace to be the greatest champion ever.
He showed up at Augusta National last year having gone 10 starts without a major, matching his longest drought in the Grand Slam events. He no longer was No. 1 in the world. His supremacy was questioned.
And then he found another gear.
Woods returns having won the Masters and British Open, and finished second at the U.S. Open and in a tie for fourth at the PGA Championship. Woods already has won three times this year, including Dubai on the European tour. He is entrenched at No. 1, with twice as many points as Vijay Singh.
'His powers of concentration or determination to get the job done are just so phenomenal,' said his good friend Mark O'Meara. 'It's on the level of Jack Nicklaus.'
Woods has been spotty, however, finishing a combined 25 shots behind in his last two starts. His father is battling cancer, and took a turn for the worse over the holidays, a situation heavy on his mind.
But he remains a big favorite at Augusta National, perhaps more so this year at the Masters because of the additional length and because none of the six players behind him in the world ranking has won this year.
And because of moments like that chip adding to Woods' legend, players wonder what he'll do next.
The birdie chip provided free advertising for Nike, with the swoosh on Woods' golf ball in full view for two seconds before it disappeared into the cup. And it was another signature moment for Verne Lundquist of CBS Sports, famous for his 'Yes, Sir!' call when Nicklaus holed his birdie putt on the 17th hole to win in
'Oh, wow!' Lundquist said as Woods' ball neared the cup. And when it dropped, he added, 'In your life, have you ever seen anything like that?'
At the Masters, the answer is probably: Yes.
Related Links:
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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''