The same place that gave us Jack Nicklaus, who won one for mid-life crises everywhere, in 1986, and Ben Crenshaw, who won one for Harvey Penick, in 1995, delivered the trifecta in 2010.
An off-form Phil Mickelson, who arrived at Augusta National with just a single top-10 finish, shook the pines with bold, and borderline reckless, play on Sunday to win his third green jacket and then shed tears moments later when he embraced wife Amy, who had been absent from Tour life for 11 months due to a battle with breast cancer. It was a storybook finish too good, or maybe too unbelievable, for Hollywood, but perfect for Augusta National. – Rex Hoggard, Senior Writer
Come Sunday morning in the final round of a Masters, I like to go down to Amen Corner and sit in the media bleachers above the 12th tee to soak in the grandeur long before the leaders go off. I wasn’t there when Jack Nicklaus won the best Masters ever in 1986, but I got an unexpected echo of what it must have been like in ’98, my second Masters. That’s when Nicklaus, at 58, made an early charge that ended in a tie for sixth. I remember sitting there, enjoying the peacefulness, when this roar detonated up on the hill behind me and cascaded through the pines.
“What the hell was that?” I asked Helen Ross, a fellow writer who had been to a lot more Masters than had I. “That can only be one thing,” she said. “That’s a Nicklaus roar.” Moments later, Nicklaus’ name was put on the leaderboard above the 11th green. Sitting down there in Amen Corner, we heard one roar after another as Nicklaus mounted a charge that would ultimately fall short. But the sounds Nicklaus created before his magic ended, it was like listening to a symphony. – Randall Mell, Senior Writer
Phil Mickelson's victory in 2004 stands out most because I was there. The roars on the second nine were unlike anything I'd ever heard on a golf course with the game's heavyweights, Mickelson and Ernie Els, trading blows. Ultimately Mickelson’s 18-footer finally took the major championship monkey off his back and did so in fine fashion. Els shot 67 that day and thought he had finally done enough to wear the green jacket. When he realized he didn’t, he was as gutted as anyone I’ve ever seen following major disappointment.
Realizing the defining moment was going to be something special – and knowing I’d never get a clear view of the 18th hole – I ducked into the players locker room to watch the final hole. Padraig Harrington, Nick Price and Fred Couples were all glued to the TV. When Phil’s final putt dropped the room went crazy and the ground shook. Phil jumped in the air and yelled “I did it!” I’ll never forget it. – Jay Coffin, Editorial Director
I've worked every Masters for the past 15 years – for the most part – so my most indelible moment takes place in the office. For as much as I recall the panic of trying to cut a highlight tape for 'Golf Central' after Tiger won in '97 (I aged three years that day), and as proud as I felt to see Zach Johnson profess his faith after winning in 2007, it was Tiger's chip in on 16, during the final round in 2005, that stands out most. The collective gasp of about 15 employees in and around the newsroom when Woods' ball stopped on the lip of the cup, a producer falling to his knees, the collective scream when the ball dropped, people recreating Tiger's dorky celebration. Good times. – Mercer Baggs, Managing Editor
The 1996 Masters ranks as one of the worst all-time sporting days in my life. Greg Norman played so masterfully for the first three days. As one of my favorite athletes, not just in golf, I foolishly felt confident that Sunday. And then came the short missed putt at No. 11 and the Dead Man Walking march was on. I felt sick the rest of the day. I still get pissed knowing that he isn't at the Champions Dinner every year. – Brian Koressel, Senior Producer
‘Surreal.’ That’s the word Zach Johnson used over and over again when he was asked about holding off Tiger Woods down the stretch to win at Augusta in 2007.
Having played against Johnson at a rival college and then rooming with him on the mini-tours thereafter, the moment Phil Mickelson draped that crested coat across his shoulders was about as surreal to his longtime friends as it was to him. I’ll never forget his tenacity on those last few holes; that chip on the 18th. And, of course, the embrace with wife Kim and newborn son Will after the victory. All Masters memories are great. This one, I’m just grateful to have. – Jon Levy, Associate Editor
There are certain moments in life when the emotions of others around us, particularly those of our loved ones, can be so fervent that by mere observation, we are overcome with sentiment. That’s what the 2004 Masters was for me – the osmosis of my parents’ passion and euphoria over Phil Mickelson’s victory into joy of my own.
Not that I wasn’t happy in my own right to see Mickelson win the green jacket, but at a mere 17 years of age, I was unable to comprehend or appreciate the significance of the event I had just witnessed on TV. Experiencing the excitement of Mickelson’s victory through my parents’ happiness was all the convincing I needed to know that a special moment in history had just occurred. – Bailey Mosier, Contributing Editor
Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix
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.
Rahm (62) fires career low round
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
Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder
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.
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."
Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn
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.
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.