Memories of Seve Ballesteros at the Masters

By Associated PressApril 8, 2009, 4:00 pm
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AUGUSTA, Ga. ' What usually is a night of laughter and memories turned melancholy at the Champions Dinner when Jose Maria Olazabal read a letter to the Masters winners from Seve Ballesteros, who is recovering from a malignant brain tumor.
 
Ballesteros, a dynamic figure at Augusta National and a two-time champion, has had three operations since he was diagnosed with the tumor in October. He recently began his fourth round of chemotherapy.
 
Olazabal visited him in the hospital in Madrid, and brought the letter to Augusta National. He declined to say what Ballesteros wrote.
 
It was personal, Olazabal said. But it was very emotional.
 
Masters chairman Billy Payne also declined to repeat what was in the letter, joking that he was only an invited guest.
 
It was very emotional, very loving, and as it was read, you could feel in the air the reciprocation from his friends and former champions going all the way back to Spain, Payne said. It was an amazing, amazing moment.
 
Ballesteros became the youngest Masters champion at age 23 ' a record later broken by 21-year-old Tiger Woods ' when he built a 10-shot lead going to the back nine before settling for a four-shot victory. He won the Masters again three years later.
 
Chronic back issues forced a premature end to a brilliant career, and Ballesteros retired in 2007. In his final Masters appearance, he shot 86-80 to finish in last place.
 
A true champion and a fierce competitor, Seve continues to inspire us all with his passion and his determination, Payne said. We look forward to his return to Augusta.
 
NO SMOKING: Anyone who takes a seat at the Masters better not light up.
 
For the first time, Augusta National has a no-smoking zone at certain areas for the Masters. Club chairman Billy Payne said the policy grew out of the suggestion box at the Masters last year.
 
We listened, and smoking will no longer be permitted in any patron stand or any other designated seating area on the course, he said.
 
Most greens have a section that is restricted to chairs, and those will be off-limits to cigars and cigarettes. The ban also applies to the numerous grandstands on the course.
 
Such a ban seemed unlikely a decade ago.
 
When the move to no-smoking areas first came up at stadiums and arenas in the late 1990s, former Masters chairman Jack Stephens was asked what he thought about making all or part of the course non-smoking.
 
Stephens quietly removed a pack of Winstons and his cigarette lighter from his green jacket and placed them on the table.
 
He didnt say a word.
 
Will Nicholson, then chair of the competition committee, finally leaned into the microphone.
 
No sir, Nicholson said for anyone needing clarification.
 
PAR 3 CONTEST: Tim Clark of South Africa already faced 80-to-1 odds of winning the Masters. Those odds surely grew a little longer Wednesday when he made an ace on the last hole to win the Par 3 Contest at the Masters.
 
No winner of the Par 3 has ever gone on to capture the green jacket.
 
Clark finished at 5 under par to become the second consecutive South African to win the tournament. Rory Sabbatini won last year, then shot rounds of 75-74 to miss the cut.
 
The Masters is all business when it gets under way Thursday, a polar opposite to the mood at the Par 3 Contest. Some players have their children caddy for them. Anthony Kim, a Masters rookie, had his father on the bag.
 
Greg Normans caddie was his wife ' tennis great Chris Evert. And did they ever have reason to celebrate. The Shark had a hole-in-one on the sixth hole, hugged his caddie and gave her a smooch.
 
John Merrick also had an ace, but the biggest cheer for a ball that went from the tee into the cup was for Gary Player.
 
Trouble was, it was his third shot.
 
Player, in the Big Three group with Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, dumped one in the water at No. 9, teed up another and watched it spin and roll back into the cup. He flexed his muscle, and his 7-year-old grandson ran into his arms.
 
He said, Gramps, youve still got it, Player said.
 
Nicklaus birdied his first two holes and had an outside chance to win until his grandson, Chris OLeary, hit the tee shot on the ninth. It went into the water, but the kid made the bogey putt.
 
Expect to see the Golden Bear back at Augusta, at least for the Par 3 Contest. He resumed playing a few years ago with another grandson on the bag, and Jack doesnt play favorites.
 
Ive got 21 grandkids, he said. Once I got one (to caddie), Ive got to get all of them. Its nice to get back in front of the Augusta crowd. The people have been great to me. They like to see me once a year, and thats not asking too much.
 

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    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.