The Blueprint for Success

By Rex HoggardApril 14, 2011, 12:29 am
The status quo remained largely unchanged on Sunday at Augusta National – Europe extended its winless streak to a baker’s dozen, the long putter remains Grand Slam kryptonite, Australia remains an inexplicably perfect 0-for-75 at the game’s most exclusive invitational and club chairman Billy Payne has now delivered three consecutive keepers.

Not that Payne, or any of the other green jacket members, would admit to such influence. On Sunday in the fading light, the chairman referred to the quality of play and the timeless test of the golf course.

But no one is this lucky.

Charl Schwartzel
Charl Schwartzel finished with four consecutive birdies to win the 75th Masters. (Getty Images)
In a trifecta of finishes, The Masters has served up the three-man playoff won by Angel Cabrera – or, as most American fans recall, lost by Kenny Perry; an emotional end to a surreal week with a snapshot of Phil and Amy Mickelson behind the 18th green last year; and finally Sunday’s melee, a free-for-all that had it all – tragedy, triumph and more supporting actors than a Coen brothers film.

Most majors are defined by who won. The 75th Masters may well be remembered for who didn’t, with apologies to the South African flat-liner who actually took the green jacket.

From Tiger Woods’ front-nine charge to Rory McIlroy’s back-nine collapse, the 2011 Masters may eventually suffer the same fate as the infamous 1999 Open Championship, which was ... all together now, lost by Jean Van de Velde.

Australians Adam Scott and Jason Day tied for second and were happy to do so, never mind that they’d missed the best chance in more than a decade to end the “Aussie duck” at Augusta National.

All totaled, eight players held at least a share of the lead Sunday, and that doesn’t even cover spirited runs by the likes of Luke Donald and Bo Van Pelt.

Even Charl Schwartzel, the soft-spoken champion who is best described as a more subdued version of Retief Goosen, made an indelible mark, closing with four consecutive birdies for a two-stroke victory that felt much closer.

“I couldn’t keep my eyes off of it,” said Ben Crenshaw, perhaps the preeminent playing historian of his generation and someone who knows a few things about emotional Masters victories. “Never have I seen so much collective good play. Nobody backed off at all. ... I don’t know how you can finish more like a major champion. I’m not sure anyone has ever birdied the last four holes to win a major.”

Early Monday talk shows from Boise to Boston were abuzz, debating, however pointlessly, whether this was the greatest Masters finish. It was not – Jack Nicklaus in 1986, followed by Woods in 1997, top that mountain, at least in the modern era. But 2011 was good, very good.

To dismiss Augusta National’s good fortune as happenstance, however, is to ignore the extremes the club goes to in order to make Sunday special. They say luck favors the prepared, and no one in golf is more prepared.

Back in the days before the club started talking about the annual changes to the former nursery, specifically the addition of some 500 yards from 1998 to 2006, there is a famous locker room tale of a long-time Tour pro who stepped to the first tee, looked around and observed, “Ain’t that something, they picked up that entire clubhouse and (oak) tree and moved it 20 yards closer to the first green.”

Similarly, the club would never admit to dialing in the back nine for speed over comfort, but after less-than-pine-rattling finishes in 2007 and ’08 that felt more like U.S. Opens than Masters, some opined that the fun had been removed from Sunday’s closing loop.

Statistics support that argument; although it must be pointed out conditions in 2007 and ’08 were not conducive to low scoring. Sunday’s back-nine scoring average was 35.592, similar to what it was in ’10 (35.585) and ’09 (35.36); and almost two strokes less than it was in ’08 (37.466) and ’07 (37.149).

Either by design or default, the cheers have returned, and we’re leaning toward the former.

“They gave us another step, step and a half on some of these pins. That's a lot here with these slopes. You give us a step, step and a half, that's quite a bit,” Woods noted on Friday. “They are just that much more forgiving.”

It’s a simple equation, really. Red numbers equal a raucous Sunday. And it may at least partially explain why the Masters has largely avoided the “fluke” champion. Unlike its Grand Slam stablemates, Augusta National has no aversion to red like the U.S. Open now and forever, and the PGA Championship used to. Nor is the club subject to the whims of weather to the extent of the Open Championship.

Outside of Mother Nature – which has, admittedly, been a more-than-willing partner in recent years – there is nothing left to chance.

Although the “how” remains a mystery, there is no debating the what. All one had to do on Sunday was close his or her eyes and listen to the unfolding mayhem. There are no scripts in golf, but at Augusta National they’ve certainly perfected the blueprint.
Follow Rex Hoggard on Twitter @RexHoggard
Getty Images

Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. 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.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.