Augusta Observations

By Brian HewittApril 7, 2004, 4:00 pm
A few random and not-so-random things you should know about the Masters before the balls go in the air Thursday and all of us start micro-focusing on our pool picks:
  • There is no favorite in this years Masters. Tiger Woods is the betting favorite. But because of recent poor form he will not be the automatic first pick in all those Masters fantasy drafts the way he has been in recent years.
  • If current form is your prime concern, its hard to ignore Phil Mickelson. Mickelson currently sits atop the PGA Tour money list for the first time in almost six years. He has seven top 10s in eight events this season. And he has finished third in each of the last three Masters. If you rely more heavily on past form, well, yes, Mickelson has never won a major championship.
  • Heres a statistic no one should ignore: Davis Love III enters this Masters with the longest current streak of not three-putting--169 holes.
  • When Gene Sarazen holed his famous double eagle on the 15th hole in 1935, there was a debate on what it should be called. Many people still prefer the term albatross to double eagle. Whatever you want to call it, a 2 on a par-5 is a rare bird. Sarazen referred to it as a dodo.
  • I believe the Masters made a mistake when it invited Chinas Lian-Wei Zhang to play in this years tournament. Zhang is the first Chinese player to win on the European Tour. But a much more deserving Asian is Thailands Thongchai Jaidee. Jaidee has also won on the Euro Tour. His current world rank is 68th. Zhangs is a distant No. 181.
  • Seve Ballesteros will be missed. The bad back that has forced him from this years tournament makes it the first time he hasnt teed it up in a Masters since 1977. Adam Scott was not yet born then.
  • Quietly, Vijay Singh has moved ahead of Tiger Woods in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, a ranking system that places more importance in results from the last 52 weeks than the Official World Golf Rankings which count more heavily on a two-year period.
  • This is not just Arnold Palmers 50th Masters, it is his 50th STRAIGHT Masters. Highlight: From 1957 through 1967 Palmer won four Masters and finished no worse than ninth. Lowlight: Palmer has missed his last 20 cuts at Augusta National.
  • Jose Maria Olazabals 71.55 career scoring average at the Masters is the best for anybody with more than 50 rounds at this tournament.
  • Only three players have won the Masters on their first try: Horton Smith in 1934, Gene Sarazen in 1935 and Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.
  • John Daly has a new driver in the bag this week. Its a Dunlop prototype Loco. If he makes a two on any of Augusta Nationals Par-5s, it will probably be the tournaments first Loco dodo ever.
  • There are 17 first timers in the field.
  • The last five major championship winners have been players who hadnt previously won a major. Kind of makes you think of Mickelson again, doesnt it?
  • No major championship has ever been won two years in a row by a lefthander.
  • Mike Weir, the defending champion, is a lefthander.
  • There is a first for almost everything.
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  • Full Coverage - The Masters Tournament
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  • Arnold Palmers 50th Masters
  • Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

    He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

    Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

    Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

    Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

    Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

    "I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

    The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

    Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

    "I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

    McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

    When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

    Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

    Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

    While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

    Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.

    Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

    Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

    Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

    "I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

    But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.

    DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship

    With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

    Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

    The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

    "I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."