Surprise Birthday at Augusta

By Golf Channel NewsroomApril 8, 2008, 4:00 pm
I am a lawyer in Milwaukee and played Augusta on April 24, 2005. It was my brother's birthday and I was asked to be the 'fourth' as part of a surprise birthday present for him, given by an Augusta member. I flew to Atlanta on the 23rd, where my brother lives, stayed at a local hotel, and met another member of the foursome at 6 am on the 24th, outside the hotel. I put my bags in the guy's trunk and thought we would then drive to my brother's house, to surprise him. Instead, I was taken to a local Starbucks, told to leave my clubs behind the store and was taken to a table. I was then given a newspaper, was told to hold it in front of my face and to wait. The player returned with my brother about fifteen minutes later and they sat at the next table. He then proceeded to tell my brother that the local course they had signed up to play was closed because of some outing but wouldn't it be great to play Augusta! My brother asked how, since his friend was not a member. The friend said not to worry, he had a friend who was a member, but it would be better if they had a fourth. The friend then called out to me, 'Hey, you with the paper in front of your face. You want to play Augusta?' That was my clue. I lowered the paper and shouted, 'Count me in!' My brother, not knowing I was even in Atlanta, almost fell off his chair. That's how the day started.
 
The three of us drove to Augusta, and waited in the parking lot across from Magnolia Lane for the member to arrive in his car. We then followed the member onto the grounds. We had breakfast and then were able to go inside the Eisenhower cabin. That was followed by a visit to the driving range. After hitting balls for a while I noticed a person standing behind me. He was dressed in white coveralls with a green hat. My caddy! He just stood there, watching me. Very intimidating, to say the least.
 
The day was cold and windy. I didn't care. I was in heaven. I had the following goals: break 100 (I'm a 12 handicap) and par 12, 13 and 15. I shot an 87, parred 12 and 13 but put my drive into the woods on 15 and got a double bogey. I brought my camera along and my caddy, a wonderful, friendly young man, carried it throughout the round. Photos were taken as I walked across Hogan's Bridge and whenever we arrived at any any other historical locations. The Azaleas were still in bloom.
 
There are two tees at Augusta on each hole, one for members and the other for the Master's tournament. I recall walking off the difference before we teed off on 18. It was 90 yards! Even with that advantage I was only able to get to the fairway bunker on the left of the fairway with my drive.
 
We didn't stay for dinner and we had to precede the member off the grounds. All the way back to Atlanta I remained mostly quiet in the back seat. I kept thinking that if given the opportunity to do anything related to sports, what would it be? Play center field for one inning at Yankee Stadium? Drive a lap during the Indianapolis 500? Play quarterback during one series for the Packers? No. It was doing what I had just done.
 
-James
 
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Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.