Odds on Ends to a Moistened Masters

By Brian HewittApril 7, 2003, 4:00 pm
Jonathan Byrd was driving to his first Masters. Actually, his wife, Amanda, was behind the wheel. They had begun their trek in Sea Island, Ga., and when the cell phone rang they were near Statesboro.
On the other end of the line was your intrepid Golf Channel reporter wanting to know what Byrd thought of close friend Ben Crane's breakthrough victory at the BellSouth Classic.
Byrd, who had won his first PGA Tour tournament at last year's Buick Challenge, was ecstatic for Crane. He pointed out that Crane was a wonderful putter and fearless when near the lead. He said he wasn't surprised that Crane had shot 64 63 at the TPC at Sugarloaf, 17-under par on the weekend, to overhaul veteran Bob Tway and beat him by four shots.
So on to the subject turned to Augusta National. This was when Byrd learned for the first time that the weather prognosticators were calling for rain and chilly temperatures Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at Augusta National. And he was bummed. He had squeezed in a practice round the previous Thursday under ideal conditions and pronounced the course 'a beast.' It was a beast he couldn't wait to test again. But now the meteorologists were prediciting bad things.
'Doesn't God know,' Byrd said with a pause, 'that this is Masters week?'
Byrd is very religious, as is Crane. So he paused again. Then he added, 'Just kidding.'
Byrd didn't want to sound sacrilegious. But his point was made. A wet Masters week would reduce the number of players with the length to win at the 7,290 yard Augusta National course under those conditions.
Which brings your intrepid reporter to my predictions, along with odds for the 67th Masters.
Tiger WoodsTIGER WOODS - Even Money
Only a fool would pick against Tiger in his bid to become the first man in history to win three straight Masters. Now that doesn't mean it's a certainty that he will win the tournament. But if the weatherman turns out to be right, it will help Tiger more than most. In case you've been on Neptune for the last 10 years, Tiger hits the ball a long way. And please, not to forget: His last 10 rounds at the Masters have all been under par.
Maybe the rest from the incident in which he injured his wrist working out on a heavy bag wil turn out to be the tonic that he needs. Clearly, Els has been the second best player in the world so far this year. He has three top 10s in a row at Augusta. But he also has bad memories of the triple-bogey eight he took on the 13th last year during Sunday's final round.
Has the length and the momentum off his recent Players Championship. Plus, has finished in top 15 in six of the last eight Masters. Last three Masters winners have led the field in greens in regulation
Phil MickelsonPHIL MICKELSON - 12:1
Just a hunch here, but I think all the things that have been going on in Mickelson's life in the last few months - the birth of his first son, the controversy over his critique of Woods' equipment, the fuss over his conditioning, etc. etc. - may turn out to work in his favor. This could be the major that 'wins' Phil. Certainly his expectations will be lowered. And I think that could be of benefit. Conversely, I won't be surprised at all if he shoots 76-76 and trunkslams late Friday. A reminder: Mickelson has finished third in each of the last two Masters.
Tied for third at the BellSouth Classic Sunday; second at last year's Masters. Goosen has the length to keep up with the big boys if it rains. His game seems to be coming to the boil at the right time as well. Eight Masters champions won the year after finishing second.
All depends on his physical condition. The 2000 Masters champion has been nursing sore ribs. Don't expect much from him. But don't be surprised if he plays well.
Fred CouplesTHE FIELD - 100:1
The best of the rest include Mike Weir, Chris DiMarco, Padraig Harrington, Jim Furyk, Justin Leonard and Sergio Garcia. A good longshot is Robert Allenby. Another player I like is Darren Clarke, who always seems to play well when instructor Butch Harmon is around.
Speaking of Butch, he is coaching the field's preeminent wild card, Fred Couples. Ignore Boom Boom in your Masters pools at your own peril.
Related Links:
  • Augusta, Ga., Weather
  • 2003 Masters Tournament Mini-Site
  • Tournament Coverage
  • The Augusta National Membership Debate: A Chronology
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    Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

    PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

    She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

    “I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

    Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

    “Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

    She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

    “I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

    Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

    She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

    “They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

    Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

    While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

    “Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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    Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

    PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

    In fact, she named her “Mona.”

    For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

    While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

    And that has her excited about this year.

    Well, that and having a healthy back again.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

    Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    “Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

    Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

    She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

    Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

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    Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

    By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

    PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

    Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

    Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.

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    Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:26 am

    PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.

    With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.

    After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.

    “I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”

    It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.

    Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.

    “It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”

    Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.

    “Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”

    Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).

    Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.

    “It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”

    Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.

    “This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”

    Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.