Top 10: Reasons we love the Masters

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 10, 2014, 7:00 pm

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

While there are an endless number of reasons to love the Masters, the Grill Room counts down the top 10 as the 78th edition gets underway.

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10. Amateurs in the field: The Masters honors its founder, amateur legend Bobby Jones, by extending invitations to notable amateurs and amateur champions around the world.

9. Magnolia Lane: The road to the Augusta National clubhouse is 330 yards long and is lined with a canopy of magnolia trees that date back to the mid-1800s. According to the Augusta Chronicle, there are 61 magnolia trees on each side of Magnolia Lane. Those trees' branches meet overhead, creating a tunnel effect that is particularly striking when they are in bloom. It has yet to be confirmed, but we hear this is what the walkway to heaven looks like.

8. The menu: Limited, like commercial interruptions, and ridiculously affordable and tasty. Pimento cheese sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, Coke, sports drinks and beer. Sandwiches are $1.50. A dollar-fifty, people. 

7. Par-3 Contest: Since 1960, a semi-social event on Augusta National's par-3 course has been played the day before the first round of the Masters Tournament. No player twho has won the nine-hole event has ever gone on to win the actual tournament the same year. Girlfriends and wives often caddie for their golfing beaus, and they bring their kids to the course. Talk about fun for the whole family.

6. Champions Dinner: The Champions Dinner has been an annual tradition at the Masters since 1952, when Ben Hogan suggested and hosted the first edition. The previous year's winner gets to select the menu – and he also has to pay. 

5. Ceremonial tee shots: Jock Hutchison and Fred McLeod hit the first ceremonial opening tee shots in 1963. For many years the trio of Sam Snead, Gene Sarazen and Byron Nelson filled the role. The much-loved tradition now has Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus.

4. Drive, Chip & Putt Championship: Saying this year's inaugural Drive, Chip & Putt Championship was a success is like saying the Masters is just another golf tournament. Understatement.of.the.century. Eighty-eight juniors from around the U.S. and Canada converged on Augusta National the Sunday before the Masters - a scene alikened to Willy Wonka opening up his chocolate factory to children with golden tickets.

3. Limited commercial interruption: The Masters, by design, has fewer commercial breaks than any other golf tournament. While we'd love to never be taken away from coverage, I guess we can't complain about seeing 57 out of every 60 minutes.

2. Amen Corner: The second shot at the par-4 11th, all of the par-3 12th, and the tee shot at the par-5 13th at Augusta are nicknamed Amen Corner. This term was first used in print by author Herbert Warren Wind in his April 21, 1958 Sports Illustrated article about the Masters, and is one of the most beloved arenas in sport.

1. Green jacket: The tradition of the green jacket at Augusta National Golf Club dates to 1937. That year, members of the club wore green jackets during the tournament so that patrons in attendance could easily recognize them if they needed to ask questions. Slipping a jacket onto the winner of the Masters began in 1949. Even better? Women are sporting them now, too.

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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.



The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”



Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.