Rookie Ready for Masters - and Pimento Sandwiches

By Associated PressApril 8, 2008, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Let Tiger Woods worry about the green jacket. Johnson Wagner is more focused on the orangish'or is that yellowish?'delicacy thats as much a part of Augusta National as the azaleas.
 
Celebrating his last-minute invitation to the Masters, Wagner made a run on the pimento cheese sandwiches Monday. He managed to woof down three of them right out of the chute.
 
Im going to OD on pimento cheese, Wagner quipped. I love em, just love em.
 
He might be feeling a little bloated by the time he strikes his first tee shot Thursday. After all, the listed ingredients include cream, sodium citrate, salt, sorbic acid, vinegar, ammonium sulfate, sugar, calcium propionate, soybean oil, and'oh yeah'those little red specks of pimento.
 
Not that Wagner is worried about such things.
 
Hes planning on experiencing Augusta to the fullest, right down to the menu.
 
Ive been pinching myself all day, Wagner said. This is just incredible.
 
Who can blame him for being so giddy?
 
A week ago, Wagner was a player going nowhere. He had missed six cuts in nine starts this year and ranked 193rd on the money list. Not exactly Masters material. But, with the first major of the year having reinstated its rule that gives all PGA TOUR winners a spot in the exclusive field, the 28-year-old had one more chance to get in.
 
The Houston Open.
 
He sure took advantage of it.
 
Wagner opened with a 63'matching Adam Scott for the course record'and zealously guarded the lead the rest of the way, earning his first Tour win by two strokes.
 
The first thought was, Oh my gosh, I just won on the PGA TOUR, said Wagner, who had planned on taking a trip to the beach with his wife and another couple this week. But immediately after that, I said, Holy cow, Im in the Masters.
 
In addition to his pimento cheese indulgence, Wagner relished some of the other traditions at this time capsule of a golf course.
 
He couldnt wait to get to the par-3 16th during his first practice round, yearning for a chance to skip his ball off the pond that runs nearly the length of the hole. The object is to hit a low screamer, have it ricochet off the water and come up dry somewhere near the flag on the other side.
 
Wagner actually thought of getting in a little practice after he arrived at his hastily arranged house near the course sometime after midnight.
 
They had a swimming pool, and theres just a perfect little grass hill next to it, he said. I thought, This is a great chance, but I think there was (another) house on the other side. They probably wouldnt appreciate it.
 
Going sans practice, Wagners first attempt lodged in the bank at the ponds far end'pretty pathetic, he said. The next one rolled up just in the front of the green, and he moved on with a smile on his face. Mark off another line on that Masters checklist.
 
For one day at least, Wagner even felt like a bit of a celebrity.
 
It seemed like every time I looked in the gallery, someone said, Hey, Johnson, congrats, great playing last week, he said. It was amazing that so many people knew my name and knew what happened. It was probably the greatest day on the golf course Ive ever had.
 
Otherwise, it was a typical Monday before the Masters. Some 40,000 fans milled around the one-time nursery, posing for pictures in front of the famous scoreboard along the first fairway or queuing up in lines that seemed to stretch on forever outside the merchandise store. Youngsters dressed in garish yellow coveralls and matching caps with Litter written above the bill got some last-minute instructions on how to keep the grounds looking immaculate.
 
And, of course, everyone strained for a look at Woods. The worlds No. 1 player, four-time Masters winner and overwhelming favorite arrived Sunday, played another 18 holes Monday morning and planned one more practice session before beginning his quest for a Grand Slam.
 
Hes the only player capable of doing that, Steve Stricker said. You know, I wouldnt be surprised if he does do it.
 
In recent days, Augusta National was softened by 3 inches of rain, with the chance of more thunderstorms this weekend. That could present a much different setup than a year ago, when bone dry fairways allowed Zach Johnson'all 160 pounds of him'to keep up with the big hitters.
 
Johnson was able to lay up on the par 5s and still do most of his scoring, finishing with a 1-over 289 that matched the highest winning score at the Masters.
 
It would be nice if the fairways could be dry again, said Nick OHern, the left-handed Australian who might have trouble outdriving some of the guys down at the muni. You just hit it as far and as straight as you can. Theres no shaping the ball, except to the greens. Just get up there and smash it.
 
Even on the rain-soaked grounds, plenty of players managed to get a sampling of Augustas fiendish greens.
 
Jeev Milkha Singh of India, who got in with a special foreign invitation, worked on some chipping from just behind the three-tiered ninth green. Two of his skittish attempts didnt even make it past the fringe. Another skidded by the cup and kept right on rolling down to the second level, finally stopping some 40 feet away.
 
And this was just practice. Imagine what that shot might look like when hes playing for real.
 
Wagner is a Masters rookie, but he does have some experience at Augusta National. He got a chance to play a few rounds for fun 4 1/2 years ago as a guest of his great-uncle, who happens to be a member. He even managed to get off a joke when he pulled up to the gate on Magnolia Lane.
 
Hey, do yall have any tee times for the morning? Wagner asked the security guard.
 
Good one, rookie.
 
Now go have another pimento cheese sandwich.
 
Related Links:
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    Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

    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.

    PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

    Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

    The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

    The statement reads:

    The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

    Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

    The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

    The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

    The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.

    Good time to hang up on viewer call-ins

    By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 7:40 pm

    Golf announced the most massive layoff in the industry’s history on Monday morning.

    Armchair referees around the world were given their pink slips.

    It’s a glorious jettisoning of unsolicited help.

    Goodbye and good riddance.

    The USGA and R&A’s announcement of a new set of protocols Monday will end the practice of viewer call-ins and emails in the reporting of rules infractions.

    “What we have heard from players and committees is ‘Let’s leave the rules and administration of the event to the players and those responsible for running the tournament,’” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior director of rules and amateur status.

    Amen.

    The protocols, formed by a working group that included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and the PGA of America, also establish the use of rules officials to monitor the televised broadcasts of events.

    Additionally, the protocols will eliminate the two-shot penalty when a player signs an incorrect scorecard because the player was unaware of a violation.



    Yes, I can hear you folks saying armchair rules officials help make sure every meaningful infraction comes to light. I hear you saying they make the game better, more honest, by helping reduce the possibility somebody violates the rules to win.

    But at what cost?

    The chaos and mayhem armchair referees create can ruin the spirit of fair play every bit as much as an unreported violation. The chaos and mayhem armchair rules officials create can be as much a threat to fair play as the violations themselves.

    The Rules of Golf are devised to protect the integrity of the game, but perfectly good rules can be undermined by the manner and timeliness of their enforcement.

    We have seen the intervention of armchair referees go beyond the ruin of fair play in how a tournament should be conducted. We have seen it threaten the credibility of the game in the eyes of fans who can’t fathom the stupidity of a sport that cannot separate common-sense enforcement from absolute devotion to the letter of the law.

    In other sports, video review’s timely use helps officials get it right. In golf, video review too often makes it feel like the sport is getting it wrong, because timeliness matters in the spirit of fair play, because the retroactive nature of some punishments are as egregious as the violations themselves.  

    We saw that with Lexi Thompson at the ANA Inspiration this year.

    Yes, she deserved a two-shot penalty for improperly marking her ball, but she didn’t deserve the two-shot penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. She had no idea she was signing an incorrect scorecard.

    We nearly saw the ruin of the U.S. Open at Oakmont last year, with Dustin Johnson’s victory clouded by the timing of a video review that left us all uncertain if the tournament was playing out under an incorrect scoreboard.

    “What these protocols are put in place for, really, is to make sure there are measures to identify the facts as soon as possible, in real time, so if there is an issue to be dealt with, that it can be handled quickly and decisively,” Pagel said.

    Amen again.

    We have pounded the USGA for making the game more complicated and less enjoyable than it ought to be, for creating controversy where common sense should prevail, so let’s applaud executive director Mike Davis, as well as the R&A, for putting common sense in play.

    Yes, this isn’t a perfect answer to handling rules violations.

    There are trap doors in the protocols that we are bound to see the game stumble into, because the game is so complex, but this is more than a good faith effort to make the game better.

    This is good governance.

    And compared to the glacial pace of major rules change of the past, this is swift.

    This is the USGA and R&A leading a charge.

    We’re seeing that with the radical modernization of the Rules of Golf scheduled to take effect in 2019. We saw it with the release of Decision 34/3-10 three weeks after Thompson’s loss at the ANA, with the decision limiting video review to “reasonable judgment” and “naked eye” standards. We’re hearing it with Davis’ recent comments about the “horrible” impact distance is having on the game, leading us to wonder if the USGA is in some way gearing up to take on the golf ball.

    Yes, the new video review protocols aren’t a panacea. Rules officials will still miss violations that should have been caught. There will be questions about level playing fields, about the fairness of stars getting more video review scrutiny than the rank and file. There will be questions about whether viewer complaints were relayed to rules officials.

    Golf, they say, isn’t a game of perfect, and neither is rules enforcement, though these protocols make too much sense to be pilloried. They should be applauded. They should solve a lot more problems than they create.

    Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

    By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

    Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

    David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

    “Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

    Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

    “I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

    Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

    The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

    Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

    Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

    1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

    2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

    While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”