'Sunday Eight' recall 2011 Masters final-day drama

By Rex HoggardApril 2, 2012, 1:00 pm

From the hurried final hours of the 2011 Masters only the main themes continue to resonate. The details, at least to the majority of the golf public, have faded to background noise.

These are the facts. At 2:30 p.m. (ET) Charl Schwartzel teed off at Augusta National four strokes off the lead, chipped in from Washington Road at the first for birdie and produced the first of many Sunday roars at the third when his approach landed in the middle of the green, spun left and dropped into the hole for eagle to move him to 11 under and into a share of the lead.

Helped by overnight leader Rory McIlroy’s bogey at the first, Schwartzel closed the gap in 38 minutes. All told the South African played his first three holes of the final round in 3 under and his last four in 4 under, historic bookends that defy tradition.

“I watched Charl birdie 17 and thought to myself, ‘This is unbelievable,’” Geoff Ogilvy said. “But that chip-in at the first (a 100-foot running 7-iron for Schwartzel), that’s more unlikely than the second shot at the third. That’s the hardest shot on the course almost. If it misses the hole it’s on the ninth tee almost. It’s a double bogey. It’s the most unbelievable shot.”

Largely lost to time and the fog of a frantic Sunday, however, is one of the most dramatic and crowded finishes in Masters history. Eight players from six different continents held at least a share of the lead on the back nine – McIlroy, Schwartzel, Ogilvy, Jason Day, Angel Cabrera, Tiger Woods, K.J. Choi and Adam Scott.

Not surprising given the venerable course’s unique amphitheater is the clarity with which each of the “Sunday Eight” recalls the final nine holes. For those locked in the competitive quest it was the unique cacophony of Augusta National that kept time with Sunday’s manic changes.

“You can feel it,” Day recalled. “It’s funny man, when the roars go up the whole back nine is amazing. You’ll hear it over there, you’ll hear it from another side. You kind of know what’s going on from what the crowd does.”

For everyone else GolfChannel.com, has created a timeline from last year’s back nine that fittingly begins where it virtually ended for McIlroy.

4:50 p.m.: McIlroy’s tee shot at the 10th hole clips a pine tree and ricochets between two cabins some 50 yards left of the 10th fairway. “Is there out of bounds over there?” McIlroy asks caddie J.P. Fitzgerald. The Ulsterman, who rounded the front nine in 1-over 37 but was still a stroke clear of Schwartzel, Choi and Cabrera, is not out of bounds, but that doesn’t ease his pain.

4:57 p.m.: Scott rolls in a 30-footer for birdie at No. 11 to move to 10 under and join three other players tied for second place.

“Even right from the front nine you could tell what was going on because Tiger was 5 under through eight (holes) and then when Rory dropped his shots at the 10th hole, that’s when I was first in the tournament,” Scott said. “That’s the first time I had any kind of expectations all day.”

5:09 p.m.: McIlroy taps in for triple-bogey-7 at No. 10 to drop to 8 under, two strokes behind a large group tied at 10 under that includes Choi, Cabrera, Schwartzel and Scott. Ten players are within five shots.

5:14 p.m.: And then there were five. Woods misses a 4 ½-footer for eagle at the 15th hole and taps in for his birdie to join four other players tied for the lead at 10 under.

“I hit a good shot at 15. That was a nice little holdy 6-iron, a little softy. I think I had like 207 (yards), I took something off a 6 and just hit it up in the air,” Woods said.

5:20 p.m.: Choi bogeys the 12th hole after missing the green with his tee shot and narrows the list of leaders to a foursome at 10 under – Woods, Cabrera, Scott and Schwartzel.

“I hit a cut shot on No. 12. I aim to the left of the bunker and didn’t cut, it went straight or with a little bit of a draw and left of that bunker when you’re chipping is very difficult,” Choi said.

5:25 p.m.: Ogilvy makes his fourth consecutive birdie at the 15th hole to move to 9 under par after starting the day seven strokes back.

5:26 p.m.: Day joins the leaders at 10 under with a two-putt birdie at the 13th hole. At this point seven different players have had a share of the lead.

5:28 p.m.: Cabrera’s tee shot at No. 12 sails into the back bunker and the Argentine makes bogey to drop out of the lead.

“He knew the bogey at 12 was going to cost him,” Cabrera’s swing coach Charlie Epps said of his man’s 8-iron tee shot at No. 12. “He was always told by (Seve) Ballesteros to always hit it left of the pin and he just hit left too far.”

5:32 p.m.: McIlroy’s tee shot at the 13th hole is pulled left and drops into a tributary to Rae’s Creek and leads to the iconic image of the young Ulsterman standing on the tee with his head buried in his grip.

“To be honest, one of the bad things I did, I just was trying to keep ahead of everyone else instead of maybe having a number in my head and say, ‘Right, I started the day at 12 under if I can get to 15 under,’ just have that as a target, and that's all you are thinking about,” McIlroy said. “That’s something that I've learned from and something that I’ve tried to put into practice now.”

5:33 p.m.: Ogilvy rolls in a short birdie putt at No. 16 to complete his run of five consecutive birdies and pulls into a share of the lead. Of the five players tied atop the leaderboard Schwartzel and Day began the day four shots back, Scott was five back and Woods and Ogilvy were a touchdown adrift.

“When I hit it close at 16 I didn’t see a leaderboard but I just assumed I’d be tied for the lead, but I knew there were a lot of guys,” Ogilvy said. “’I felt like that if I birdied one of these last three holes I really felt there’s a shot here.”

5:37 p.m.: Scott pulls clear of the pack with a 10-footer for birdie at the 14th hole. Nine players are now within two shots of the lead.

5:54 p.m.: Woods finishes with par at the 18th hole for a 10-under 278 total.

6 p.m.: Scott scrambles for par at the 15th hole after pushing his second shot into the gallery and holing an 8-footer to remain atop the pack. Day, who is paired with his fellow Australian, also makes par to stay one back.

6:10 p.m.: Schwartzel’s second shot at the 15th hole rolls through the green but he gets up and down for birdie to move to 11 under and momentarily tie Scott for the lead.

6:10 p.m.: Just seconds after Schwartzel putts out on 15, Scott taps in at the 16th for birdie to move to 12 under and back into the lead alone.

“After 16, honestly my thought was work hard for two pars,” Scott said. “Seventeen isn’t a hole you challenge very often and in my lifetime of watching the Masters I can’t really remember a lot of guys birdieing the last two holes. I have a lot of memories of bogeys on the last two holes.”

6:18 p.m.: With Scott in trouble left of the 17th fairway, Schwartzel rolls in an 18-footer at the 16th hole, his second consecutive birdie, to grab a share of the lead at 12 under.

6:24 p.m.: Day charges in a 30-footer at the 17th to move to 11 under and into second place, a shot behind Scott and Schwartzel.

6:34 p.m.: Schwartzel converts his 15-foot birdie putt at the 17th hole to move to 13 under and into the lead alone.

“I don’t know how many names fit on those leaderboards, but I only saw one name – Adam Scott,” Schwartzel said. “He was the guy who was leading. He was one (shot) ahead of me and then I played 15. I had an 8-footer for birdie and just before I made mine he made his putt on 16. I knew he was now two ahead. I needed to just be one behind, but I never looked around at the board again. I just knew what was going on.”

6:40 p.m.: Day completes his birdie-birdie finish with a 10-footer at the last for a closing 68 and a 12-under 276 total, but it’s not enough to hoist Australia off the Masters schneid and he ties for second with Scott (67).

“I knew what Schwartzel was doing and knew I had to birdie my last two holes. As soon as I hit in close (at No. 18) I knew I’d given myself a chance,” Day said. “I knew if I holed that putt I’d kind of put a little bit of pressure on him but then I looked back down the fairway and saw a couple of balls and was like, OK.”

6:48 p.m.: Schwartzel caps off his historic run with a 25-footer for his fourth consecutive birdie at the last and the day’s low round (66) for a 14-under 274 total.

6:55 p.m.: McIlroy putts out on the last for a par and a closing 80 to tie for 15th place. A little more than two months later he would score the ultimate bounce-back victory with his eight-stroke romp at the U.S. Open.

Getty Images

Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

Getty Images

The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

Getty Images

Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

Getty Images

Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.