Masters on the Right Track

By Brian HewittDecember 7, 2007, 5:00 pm
The Masters stewardship of Billy Payne continues to move along in a direction that is beginning to serve as a global model.
 
His fellow members should be proud of the progressive steps he has taken since replacing the embattled Hootie Johnson as Masters chairman.
 
This week Augusta National announced two steps in an ongoing multi-year, multifaceted program that is aimed at expanding, enhancing and building the Masters brand worldwide and to promote the game of golf.
 
If this weeks moves are any indication, the Masters is poised to raise its game from being he most revered and respected golf tournament in the world among the players to an entity that grows more proactive by the day.
 
Not to worry, strict Bobby Jones constructionists. The Masters will always be steeped in tradition. Payne, a Georgian, will make sure of that.
 
But theres nothing wrong with looking ahead while keeping a prominent spotlight on the past.
 
To that end, the 2008 Masters will now allow youngsters, ages eight to 16 to attend the tournament on Thursdays and Friday as long as they are accompanied by a ticket-holding adult patron. That patron must be able to verify that he is the owner of the ticket, not a person who bought the ticket from somebody else.
 
We want to inspire the next generation of golfers now, Payne said in a prepared statement.
 
What does this mean? Heres one thing:
 
If Im a boy or girl in that age group, and my family is fortunate enough to have tickets to the Masters, and Im either devoted to or curious about golf, I know whats all of a sudden at the top of my Christmas list.
 
Payne also announced that the popular and videogenic Wednesday Par 3 tournament will be broadcast on ESPN as part of a two-hour show the day before the start of the tournament.
 
Its an event everyone enjoys, Payne said. And we think it will demonstrate to kids just how fun golf can be.
 
Thats good news for everybody in the game, especially the people still laboring under the misapprehension that the Lords of Augusta dont even know how to spell fun, much less define it.
 
The Par 3 contest is an informal opportunity for current stars and past champions to exhale (while their children or friends carry their bags) on the eve of the years first major. Moreover, the grounds out behind the Butler Cabin where they stage the Par 3 is one of the prettiest little patches of land on Gods green earth. Par is 27. Length is 1,060 yards. And the number of holes-in-one recorded there since the event began in 1960 is 63.
 
Payne and the Masters are inviting us further inside Augusta National than weve ever been before and they promised, in the release, to not stop at these two moves.
 
Speculation will eventually and inevitably center around the notion that a woman will one day hold a membership to all male Augusta National.
 
Its impossible to predict when that will happen or who that person will be. But the more you follow whats been taking place on Paynes watch, it feels like the question is no longer will it happen, but when.
 
And, of course, who.
 
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
 
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    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.