Scott wins Masters, energizes entire continent

By Rex HoggardApril 15, 2013, 2:23 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – It is Monday in Melbourne, but all of Oz awoke to an unofficial, impromptu holiday.

Australia’s long Masters nightmare ended on a rainy Sunday. On a day ready-made for a duck, Adam Scott outlasted Angel “El Pato” (The Duck) Cabrera to end the “Aussie Duck,” the cricket term that means zero, which was the grand sum of green jackets collected before Sunday’s wet and wild finish.

If there was any doubt as to the significance of Scott’s victory, consider Craig Heatley’s emotional introduction of the champion to the media following his playoff title bout.

“When I heard the roar down on (No. 10), a second later I heard about 30 million people in Australia and New Zealand all cheering,” said Heatley, an Augusta National member and native of . . . wait for it, New Zealand.

With near flawless ball-striking and clutch putting Scott completed the Anchoring Slam – following in the footsteps of Keegan Bradley (PGA Championship), Webb Simpson (U.S. Open) and Ernie Els (British Open) – and just in time as the USGA and R&A seem poised to rule on long putters before the end of the spring.

'Morning Drive': Norman discusses Scott's win and impact on Australia

Photos: Scott through the years

77th Masters Tournament: Articles, videos and photos

On Sunday, however, it wasn’t about Scott’s broom-handle putter that converted a 20-footer for birdie at the 72nd hole to move him to 9 under and force overtime and finally the walk-off in near darkness, a 12-footer for birdie at the second extra hole (No. 10) to secure his nation some peace of mind.

This one was for Oz. This one was for Greg Norman, the symbol of Australian fruitlessness at the Masters and Scott’s mentor. In 2011, with Scott struggling with his swing and psyche, Norman took a flyer and made him a captain’s pick for the Presidents Cup.

On Sunday Scott repaid Norman in full.

“Greg as the captain had a lot of faith in me and made me a pick,” said Scott, who closed with matching 69s on the weekend. “There is no hiding in a Presidents Cup and I used that as a real motivator and a way to make myself believe I was a great player again. It was a really big boost for me.”

Even a crushing defeat last year at the Open Championship, when he closed with four consecutive bogeys to lose by one stroke, did little to rattle Scott’s newfound confidence and when he began the day one stroke off the lead he knew redemption was at hand.

Scott began his final round with a bogey at the first and was flawless the rest of the way, pulling into a tie for the lead when fellow Aussie Jason Day bogeyed the 16th hole and pulling away with birdies at Nos. 15 and 18 to finish at 9 under and force extra holes for the second consecutive year at Augusta National.

If Scott’s victory was historically significant in Australia, it also proved to be something of a myth buster at Augusta National. He finished tied for 39th for the week in putting, although he did have just two three-putts, but first in greens in regulation.

Turns out the “Putting Contest” is a second-shot test.

Statistics aside, for Scott the most important thing was what his victory meant back home.

“I’m a proud Australian and I hope this sits well out home,” Scott said. “We’re a proud sporting country and we like to think we’re the best at everything. . . . Part of this is for (Norman) because he’s given me so much inspiration and belief.”

Norman is the epicenter of the nation’s passion and pain when it comes to the year’s first major. The Shark is a three-time bridesmaid at the Masters, including his 1996 meltdown after leading by six strokes through 54 holes only to post a closing-nine 40.

The weight of a nation has buckled more than one Aussie since, including Day, who stormed into the lead with a birdie-eagle start on Sunday. The 2011 runner-up at Augusta National pulled two strokes clear with a birdie at the 15th hole but finished with bogeys at Nos. 16 and 17 and alone in third place.

“There was an enormous amount of pressure on my shoulders but I played pretty good today,” Day said. “People don’t understand what kind of pressure there is.”

Tiger Woods could relate.

The four-time champion came up one bad bounce and a bad drop short, literally, and finished four shots back, nearly within the margin of error that added up to a triple-bogey-8 on the 15th during Friday’s second round.

Woods received a Masters mulligan on Saturday, via the club’s curious decision to forgo the prescribed disqualification for signing an incorrect scorecard after he took an incorrect drop on the 15th, but not his fifth green jacket.

Woods has now played 15 majors since his last Grand Slam victory, the same number that now taunts him in his quest to catch Jack Nicklaus’ Grand Slam haul.

He used to win majors with his C-game; now he seems to struggle closing the deal when it counts with his A-game, which is what he appeared to have entering this week.

Woods had three signature victories at Torrey Pines, Doral and Bay Hill and, more importantly, was leading the Tour in putting heading down Magnolia Lane. At no time over the past five years have the stars been so perfectly aligned to wrest himself off his Grand Slam schnied, yet major No. 15 continues to elude him.

“You can do 'what ifs' in every tournament you lose,” said Woods, who closed with a 70 and finished at 5 under. “It’s just the way it goes; I played this week the way I played all year.”

By contrast, Cabrera’s week was every bit an anomaly. The Argentine hadn’t posted a top-10 finish in a PGA Tour event since the 2011 McGladrey Classic and there was nothing to suggest he was trending in the right direction, other than the fact that this was a major.

Cabrera pulled away from the field with a birdie at No. 7 and matched Scott with an approach to 3 feet for birdie at the 18th hole. He was equally solid in the playoff, nearly chipping in for birdie at the first extra frame and narrowly missing a 15-footer at the second OT hole for birdie.

“That’s golf. Golf gives and takes,” Cabrera said.

It’s a lesson Scott learned last year in England.

Following Scott’s meltdown at Royal Lytham he received a not entirely unexpected phone call from Norman. If anyone knew how to deal with heartache, it was the Shark.

“I said to him, ‘You played better golf than anyone for 69 holes and take that as a positive,’” Norman said late Sunday on Golf Channel. “He knew minor fluctuations can create a major disaster. But he knew he had the capability to go on and win major championships.”

That he started with the one that means the most to Australia, and Norman, only made it that much more profound.

By the time Scott slipped his arms into the green jacket that had eluded his nation for so long the rain finally let up. So did the cloud that had been looming over Australian golf.

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Tiger draws Sneds, Kizzire at Honda Classic

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 20, 2018, 7:43 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods will play alongside Patton Kizzire and Brandt Snedeker for the first two rounds of the Honda Classic.

The threesome will tee off at 7:45 a.m. ET Thursday off PGA National’s 10th tee, then 12:35 p.m. off the first tee in the second round Friday.

Woods is making his first start at the Honda, his hometown event, since 2014. He tied for second here in 2012, after a final-round 62.

This is the first time he has ever played with Kizzire, a two-time winner this season and the FedExCup points leader.

Other notable groups for the first two rounds:

  • Justin Thomas, Sergio Garcia, Daniel Berger: 7:35 a.m. Thursday, 12:25 p.m. Friday
  • Tommy Fleetwood, Alex Noren, Gary Woodland: 7:55 a.m. Thursday, 12:45 p.m. Friday
  • Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed, Kevin Kisner: 12:25 p.m. Thursday, 7:35 a.m. Friday
  • Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Padraig Harrington: 12:35 p.m. Thursday, 7:45 a.m. Friday
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The Social: In perfect harmony?

By Jason CrookFebruary 20, 2018, 7:00 pm

Bubba Watson re-emerges in the winner's circle but gets exposed on the hardwood, Mark Wahlberg tunes out Tiger Woods and if John Daly wants a drinking partner, he need look no further than ... John Daly?

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

Bubba Watson had himself a week.

The two-time Masters champion hung out with Jay Leno and Ellen DeGeneres, caught a taping of "The Big Bang Theory," played in the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game and still found some time to notch his first PGA Tour win in two years.

Watson's third victory at Riviera couldn't have come at a better time for the 39-year-old, with an annual trip down Magnolia Lane right around the corner. But don't let that distract you from the only Bubba highlight that mattered from the weekend:

Welcome to the block party, Bubba. Despite his former professional basketball playing wife's advice to stay out of the paint, Watson decided to challenge Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady at the hoop. You could say his challenge was accepted. And then some.

Watson, who picked up a couple of assists but also shot an air ball in the game, said afterwards that he "was just trying not to get hurt" and even poked a little fun at himself, calling out McGrady for committing a foul on social media.

But if these tweets from a couple of his PGA Tour peers are any indication, it will be a while before he lives this one down.

Sports fans probably take Bubba Golf for granted sometimes, no one plays the game like he does. Lets not make the same mistake with Bubba Basketball.

Want to know how far Tiger Woods has fallen? Sure, you could look at his 544th-world ranking or the current state of his game as he returns from injury, but the most telling sign came from his Wednesday pro-am round at the Genesis Open.

Woods was grouped with Mark Wahlberg for the day, and the superstar actor couldn't even be bothered to take the Apple AirPods out his ears – either one – for the entire round, even wearing them for the picture Woods posted on Instagram himself.

Marky Mark, you don't have to be his thunder buddy but at least show the man some common decency. He's still Tiger Freakin' Woods. Who is supposed to fake laugh at one of Tiger's patented hilarious dad jokes if all of his playing partners suddenly start listening to music during their rounds?

On a related note, guess Tigers are the only animals that Wahlberg won't talk to.

Something tells me this whole criminal thing isn't going to work out for these two.

Drinks were on John Daly Sunday after his hole-in-one at the Chubb Classic. But how many drinks? Well, that depends on who he’s drinking with.

If it’s with U.S. Olympian John Daly, the answer is, A LOT.

That's right, there's an American skeleton (headfirst luge for you newbs) racer competing in PyeongChang, South Korea, with the same name as the two-time major champ, and he couldn't help himself when asked about the similarity, jokingly saying he could keep up at the bar.

Of course, Daly (the golfer) wasn't just going to sit idly by while his name was dragged through the mud, tweeting out, basically, be careful what you wish for.

Somehow, someway, sliding headfirst down a frozen patch of ice with very little protection seems like a better idea than challenging Long John to a drinking contest. Just ask Andrew 'Beef' Johnston how it turned out.

If someone quits Twitter but they don't leave a long, drawn-out message on Twitter about why they're quitting Twitter before doing so, then did they even quit Twitter?

That's the riddle surrounding Lydia Ko's disappearance from the social media platform, one that the South Park Police Department would call, "suspicious."

The former LPGA world No. 1 has gone through all kinds of changes over the last couple of seasons, and added this curious move (on top of switching out her swing coach and caddie to start this season) because she said the app was “taking up [too much] storage on my phone.”

Whatever the reason, whether it be the storage issue she mentioned, or Twitter being a giant cesspool of negativity, here's to hoping it brings Ko happiness and a return to the winner's circle for the first time since 2016.

But we're sad to see her go.

After all, if people aren't freaking out on Twitter, what are we going to focus on here in The Social?

Rory McIlroy said last week after playing with Tiger Woods at the Genesis Open that the 14-time major champ gives up two strokes a tournament dealing with the hoopla that comes with being Tiger Woods.

That hasn't deterred John Peterson, who was on Twitter Monday openly recruiting Woods to play on his team for the Zurich Classic.

The April New Orleans PGA Tour stop switched to a team format last year, with Jonas Blixt and Cameron Smith joining forces to win the first title.

Peterson followed up his original tweet by asking how many retweets he'd need to make it happen. We're no experts here, but probably more than the 132 it had at the time of this publication.

Peterson's followers had some fun with the request, applauding his effort as a shooter:

And hey, who knows, stranger things have happened. While the two may seem like an unlikely pairing, they have some stuff in common – Peterson won the 2012 Coca-Cola Walmart Open and Tiger, we think, has heard of an establishment known as Walmart.

So yeah, you could say the two are basically best friends at this point.

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Veteran Golf Journalist Bradley S. Klein Joins Golf Channel Editorial Team

By Golf Channel Public RelationsFebruary 20, 2018, 4:15 pm

Klein to Lend 30-Plus Years in Golf Architecture, History and Travel Journalism to Golf Advisor, Golf Channel’s Digital Travel and Lifestyle Brand

Read Klein’s first column here

Veteran golf travel, history and architecture journalist Bradley S. Klein has joined Golf Channel’s editorial team as senior writer for Golf Advisor, the company’s ever-expanding digital destination for the traveling golfer, featuring more than 700,000 reviews of nearly 15,000 golf courses in 80 countries worldwide. Klein’s first column appears today and provides eight simple tips for becoming a golf course architecture junkie – how architecture can be more relevant to everyday golfers and design aspects to observe that can make a round of golf a more fulfilling experience.

With more than 40 years of varied experiences within the game of golf – a career that began as a caddie on the PGA Tour – Klein most recently served as the long-time architecture editor for Golfweek magazine and the founding editor of Superintendent News.

"I've been in love with golf course design since I was 11 years old and have been lucky over the years to find a platform where I can share that fascination with fellow golfers,” Klein said. “It's an amazing opportunity now for me to bring that passion and commitment to Golf Channel and its travel and lifestyle brand, Golf Advisor."

"We are extremely excited to have Brad join the Golf Advisor team. His unique contributions covering history and architecture will be an excellent complement to the travel content Matt Ginella brings to Golf Advisor and Golf Channel’s Morning Drive,” said Mike Lowe, vice president and general manager, Golf Advisor. “Brad’s reputation and experience in the industry make him a wonderful addition to our expanding golf travel and course design editorial team.”

Other members of Golf Advisor’s editorial team include: Brandon Tucker, Mike Bailey, Jason Deegan, Bill Irwin and Tim Gavrich.

Including assignments for Golfweek, Klein has written more than 1,500 feature articles on course architecture, resort travel, golf course development, golf history and the media for such other publications as Golf Digest, Financial Times, New York Times and Sports Illustrated. He has published seven books on golf architecture and history, including Discovering Donald Ross, winner of the USGA 2001 International Book Award. In 2015, Klein won the Donald Ross Award for lifetime achievement from the American Society of Golf Course Architects. He is well known within the golf industry and has served as a consultant on numerous golf course development and restoration projects, most recently the Old Macdonald course at acclaimed Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon.

Golf Advisor now includes the integration of Golf Vacation Insider and Golf Odyssey, two leading travel newsletters with a combined reach of more than a half million subscribers. Both newsletters joined Golf Channel’s portfolio of businesses in 2017 as part of the acquisition of Revolution Golf, golf’s largest direct-to-consumer digital platform offering video-based instruction and integrated e-commerce.

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Stock Watch: Fans getting louder, rowdier

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 20, 2018, 3:01 pm

Each week on, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.


Bubba (+9%): Half of his 10 Tour titles have come at Augusta National and Riviera – that’s pretty stout. Though he can be maddening to cover because of his personality quirks, an in-form Watson is a must-watch.

Phil (+5%): For the first time in 11 years, Mickelson put together three consecutive top-6 finishes on Tour. Suddenly, another green jacket or that elusive U.S. Open title doesn’t seem so far away.

Kevin Na (+3%): How much fun would this guy be on a Ryder Cup team? He hits it dead straight – which will be important at Le Golf National, where the home team will narrow the fairways – and would drive the Europeans absolutely bonkers.

West Coast swing (+2%): From Jason Day to Gary Woodland to Ted Potter to Watson, the best coast produced a series of memorable comeback stories. And that’s always good news for those of us who get paid to write about the game.

South Korean talent (+1%): They already represent nine of the top 16 players in the world, and that doesn’t even include Jin Young Ko, who just won in her first start as an LPGA member.


Steve Stricker Domination (-1%): Those predicting that he would come out and mop up on the PGA Tour Champions – hi there! – will be surprised to learn that he’s now 0-for-7 on the senior circuit (with five top-3s), after Joe Durant sped past him on the final day in Naples. The quality of golf out there is strong.

Patrick Cantlay’s routine (-2%): Never really noticed it before, but Cantlay ground to a halt during the final round, often looking at the cup six or seven times before finally stroking his putt. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that his final-round scoring average is nearly four strokes higher than his openers.

Lydia Ko (-3%): Another wholesale change? Whatever is going on here – and it reeks of too much parental involvement – it’s not good for her short- or long-term future.

Tiger (-4%): It’s early, and he’s obviously savvy enough to figure it out, but nothing else in this comeback will matter if Woods can’t start driving it on the planet.

Fan behavior (-8%): Kudos to Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas for taking the Riviera spectators to task for their tiresome (and increasingly aggressive) calls after a player hits a shot. The only problem? PGA National’s par-3 17th could be even worse – the drunk fans are closer to the action, and the hole is infinitely more difficult than TPC Scottsdale’s 16th. Buckle up.