Doglegs at the Masters

By Randall MellApril 12, 2009, 4:00 pm
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Argentinas Angel Cabrera defeated Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell in a playoff Sunday at the Masters, winning with a simple two putt for par at the second playoff hole, ending a thrilling day of unexpected twists and turns.
 
Heres a look at some of the key turning points:
 
  • Angels heavenly bounce
     
    Cabreras play at the first playoff hole wont go down as textbook closing, but hell remember the par he made there to advance as one of the best of his career.
     
    After pushing a poor tee shot into the trees along the 18th fairway, he got one of the most fateful bounces in Masters history. Trying to hook his second shot around a tree blocking his path to the green, Cabrera loudly cracked his second shot off another tree, only to discover that his ball kicked left and out into the fairway. His ball could have gone anywhere, including behind another tree or deeper into the tree line. Instead, Cabrera will remember the bounce the same way Fred Couples remembers how his tee shot at the 12th hole inexplicably clung on the bank above Raes Creek in the final round when he won in 92. Cabrera wedged his third shot to 6 feet and made the putt to advance to the second playoff hole.

     
  • Perrys shaky skull
     
    After hitting a fabulous 8-iron to six inches at the 16th hole to make birdie and take a two-shot lead, Perry knew the Masters was his to win or lose. I lost this tournament, Perry said. You can debate Perrys decision to hit driver at the 72nd hole with a one-shot lead, especially after he knocked it into a fairway bunker to set up a closing bogey, but Perry started unraveling at the 17th tee. He hit a series of shaky shots all the way home and into the playoff. The shot that hurt him most, though, was the bump-and-run chip shot he clumsily scooted all the way through the green at No. 17. He says he should have tried to spin a lob wedge instead of playing the bump. The poor chip set up the bogey-bogey finish.
     
    I skulled that shot on 17, Perry told the Golf Channel. I get under the gun and my right hand gets away from me, and I skulled it.
     
    About that decision to hit driver at the 72nd hole, Perry is one of the best drivers in the game. Its hard to fault him for not putting away a club that gives him such an advantage, a club that worked so magnificently all week, but he did hit that shaky tee shot at the 17th. And, he did watch Cabrera, another terrific long driver, pass on driver there and knock a 3-wood short of the fairway bunker.
     
    Given Perrys faith in his driver, though, its a debatable point.

     
  • Campbells nemesis hole
     
    Campbell bogeyed the 18th hole three of the five times he played it Masters week, but the missed birdie chance at the 72nd hole may haunt him most. Campbell had an 18-foot birdie chance there that could have won him his first major, but he pushed it right. A little while later, on the first playoff hole, Campbell found himself in prime position in the 18th fairway with a 7-iron in hand. After pushing his approach right and into the greenside bunker, he missed a 5-foot putt that would have kept him in the playoff. His putter also failed him at the 16th, where he missed a 5-footer for birdie.
     
    Its Campbells second runner-up finish in a major. In his other second-place finish, he watched Shaun Micheel beat him with a spectacular 7-iron to within three inches at the final hole of the 2003 PGA Championship at Oak Hill.
     
    I hit a good shot in there (at the PGA Championship), and I just got beat by a better shot, Campbell said. And today, I kind of blew it myself. I hit bad shots.

     
  • Leftys back nine stumbles
     
    Seven down at days start, Mickelson shot a spectacular front-nine 30 to get within one shot of the lead, only to come home in 37.
     
    Mickelson will dream of what might have been if he could take back three bad passes. If he could do that, he might be remembered for equaling the best final round in major championship history. Take back the 9-iron he hit into Raes Creek to make double bogey at the 12th, the 4-foot putt for eagle he missed at the 15th and the 5-footer for birdie at the 17th and Mickelson might be remembered with Johnny Miller for winning a major with final round 63.

     
  • Tigers stunning finish
     
    After making birdies at Nos. 13, 15 and 16 in an admirable fight to get himself in contention, Woods uncharacteristically stumbled home. He hit a poor chip 15 feet past the hole at the 17th to set up bogey there, then pushed his tee shot right in the trees at the 18th, setting up what will be remembered as his most human moment in a major. Trying to slice a shot around a tree, he cracked the shot off another tree and watched his ball ricochet deeper into the tree line to set up back-to-back closing bogeys.
     

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  • Full Coverage - Masters Tournament
  • Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

    Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

    "He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

    The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

    Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

    "I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

    Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

    "From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

    "And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

    "There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."

    Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

    Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

    Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

    Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

    With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

    Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

    “It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

    Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

    Ko released this statement through the LPGA on Wednesday: 

    "It has been my dream since I was young to play on the LPGA Tour and I look forward to testing myself against the best players on a worldwide stage. I know it is going to be tough but making a first win as an LPGA member and winning the Rolex Rookie of the Year award would be two of the biggest goals I would like to achieve next year."

    Piller pregnant, no timetable for LPGA return

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Gerina Piller, the American Olympian golfer and three-time Solheim Cup veteran, is pregnant and will not be rejoining the LPGA when the 2018 season opens, the New York Times reported following the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller, 32, who is married to PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, is due with the couple’s first child in May, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz reported.

    Piller declined an interview request when GolfChannel.com sought comment going into the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller told the New York Times she has no timetable for her return but that she isn’t done with competitive golf.

    “I’m not just giving everything up,” Piller said.

    As parity reigns, LPGA searching for a superstar

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:00 pm

    Apologies to the LPGA’s golden eras, but women’s golf has never been deeper.

    With the game going global, with the unrelenting wave of Asian talent continuing to slam the tour’s shores, with Thailand and China promising to add to what South Korea is delivering, it’s more difficult than ever to win.

    That’s a beautiful and perplexing thing for the women’s game.

    That’s because it is more difficult than ever to dominate.

    And that’s a magic word in golf.

    There is no more powerful elixir in the sport.

    Domination gets you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on ESPN SportsCenter, maybe even on NBC Nightly News if the “D” in domination is dynamic enough.

    The women’s best chance of moving their sport to another stratosphere is riding the back of a superstar.

    Or maybe a pair of superstar rivals.


    Photos: 2017 LPGA winners gallery


    A constellation of stars may be great for the devoted regular supporters of the women’s game, but it will take a charismatic superstar to make casual fans care.

    The LPGA needs a Serena Williams.

    Or the reincarnation of Babe Zaharias.

    For those of us who regularly follow the LPGA, this constellation of stars makes for compelling stories, a variety of scripting to feature.

    The reality, however, is that it takes one colossal story told over and over again to burst out of a sports niche.

    The late, great CBS sports director Frank Chirkinian knew what he had sitting in a TV production truck the first time he saw one of his cameras bring a certain young star into focus at the Masters.

    It’s this player coming up over the brow of the hill at the 15th hole to play his second shot,” Chirkinian once told me over lunch at a golf course he owned in South Florida.  “He studies his shot, then flips his cigarette, hitches up his trousers and takes this mighty swipe and knocks the shot on the green. It was my first experience with Arnold Palmer, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’

    “The thing about golf, more than any other sport, it’s always looking for a star. It’s the only sport where people will root against the underdog. They don’t want the stars to lose. They’re OK with some unknown rising up to be the story on Thursday or Friday, but they always want to see the stars win.”

    And they go gaga when it’s one star so radiant that he or she dominates attention.

    “It didn’t matter if Arnold was leading, or where he was, you had to show him,” Chirkinian said. “You never knew when he might do something spectacular.”

    The LPGA is in a healthy place again, with a big upside globally, with so much emerging talent sharing the spotlight.

    Take Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

    The back nine started with Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie making the turn tied for the lead. There is no more powerful pairing to sell in the women’s game today, but there would be no duel. It would have been too far off script as the final chapter to this season.

    Parity was the story this year.

    Sunday in Naples started with 18 players within two shots of the lead.

    Entering that back nine, almost a dozen players were in the mix, including Ariya Jutanugarn.

    The day ended with Jutanugarn beating Thompson with a dramatic birdie-birdie finish after Thompson stunned viewers missing a 2-foot putt for par at the last.

    The day encapsulated the expanding LPGA universe.

    “I’ve never seen such crazy, brilliant golf from these ladies,” said Gary Gilchrist, who coaches Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Rolex world No. 1 Shanshan Feng. “It was unbelievable out there. It was just like birdie after birdie after birdie, and the scoreboard went up and down. And that’s why it’s so hard to be No. 1 on this tour. There’s not one person who can peak. It’s all of them at a phenomenal level of golf.”

    If Thompson had made that last 2-footer and gone on to win the CME, she would have become the sixth different world No. 1 this year. Before this year, there had never been more than three different No. 1s in a single LPGA season.

    Parity was the theme from the year’s start.

    There were 15 different winners to open the season, something that hadn’t happened in 26 years. There were five different major championship winners.

    This year’s Rolex Player of the Year Award was presented Sunday to So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. It’s the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

    Thompson won twice this year, with six second-place finishes, with three of those playoff losses, one of them in a major championship. She was close to putting together a spectacular year. She was close to dominating and maybe becoming the tour’s one true rock star.

    Ultimately, Thompson showed us how hard that is to do now.

    She’s in a constellation we’re all watching, to see if maybe one star breaks out, somebody able to take the game into living rooms it has never been, to a level of popularity it’s never been.

    The game won’t get there with another golden era. It will get there with a golden player.