Garcia knocked his second shot into the cup on the par-5 second hole to give both himself and the fans who crowd Augusta National for practice rounds a thrill.
Its a shame it wasnt in the tournament, but still nice, Garcia said.
All of a sudden the people went crazy on the green and they said, well, you made it, Garcia said. So I raised my hands for just a couple high-fives.
It didnt have the drama of Gene Sarazens double eagle on the 15th hole 70 years ago that led to his win, but the shot left Garcia feeling good about his chances this week.
He shot a 66 in the final round last year to tie for fourth place.
It was an amazing thing, he said. I played pretty well. It was a nice day out there.
Phil Mickelson was hosting his first champions dinner Tuesday night, but he wasnt in Augusta to talk about cuisine.
Mickelson planned to serve lobster ravioli, but said the best thing about the dinner is he could mingle with so many former champions.
Im going to enjoy the fact that I can hang around with some of the Masters greats, Mickelson said.
Mickelson, who won the rain-delayed BellSouth in Atlanta on Monday, was more concerned with making sure his game was ready for Augusta National on Thursday than on the menu for the dinner, which is selected by the defending champion.
My mind-set is more concerned about trying to defend this championship and trying to win than it is to have dinner, he said. As much fun as it will be, I want to get ready for the tournament.
Tiger Woods got more out of his first champions dinner than he thought after winning the Masters for the first time in 1997.
Woods was seated next to Byron Nelson with Ben Crenshaw on his other side. The three had knives in hand and were explaining grips to each other.
Mr. Nelson is telling me how he changed his grip back in 1933, Woods said. Im saying, my dad was just born.
Woods has been to every champions dinner since, but the memory of the first one lingers.
Thats one of the coolest sights, coolest memories, he said. Ill never forget that.
JACK AND THE BALL
Ask Jack Nicklaus about golf balls, and be prepared for a long answer. On the eve of his 45th Masters, he bemoaned the fact that golf courses should have to spend millions to change every time the ball gets better.
Nicklaus said he wasnt suggesting that the Masters implement a universal ball as has been suggested, but that manufacturers dial back on some of the distance gains of recent years.
Just have a golf ball go 10 percent shorter or 12 percent or whatever it might be, Nicklaus said. You could do that and everybody will still have the same characteristics.
Nicklaus said course owners and designers are always having to adjust to new technology, especially when it comes to golf balls that go longer and straighter and still spin more.
They went from making an average golf ball or a better golf ball or longer golf ball, they could certainly take it back the other way very easily without very much cost, Nicklaus said.
Nicklaus often talks about the golf balls he played during his prime, some of which he said werent even totally round. He was one of the proponents of the Cayman ball years ago that went a limited distance to allow golfers to play shorter courses.
Today, Nicklaus said the golf ball has gotten beyond the ability of golf courses to adjust. That includes Augusta National, which he said is always in danger of being overpowered by new balls.
If the ball has the same characteristics to it then we can bring thousands of golf courses back into play as championship golf courses without change, Nicklaus said. What difference does it make if a guy hits it 330 or 290 if everybody has the same relative distances?
Mike Weirs last two Sundays at Augusta National couldnt have been more dramatically different.
Two years ago, Weir won a playoff with Len Mattiace to become the first Canadian and the first left-hander to win the Masters.
Last year, he missed the cut and then had to wait around Augusta for two days to put the green jacket on new champion Phil Mickelson.
It wasnt very much fun, Weir said. Saturday I dont think I did much. Sunday I came out and practiced a little bit and then just hung out with my family and watched it on TV.
Weir would have rather been playing, but at least Mickelsons dramatic win did capture his attention.
It was exciting golf to watch, he said.
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