Cut Line Azalea Edition

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AUGUSTA, Ga. ' There is no Made Cut/Did Not Finish element at Augusta National, far too untidy, only a 10-shot rule and 18 of the most mesmerizing holes this side of the Irish coast. But Cut Line will take some artistic license as we rifle past moving day at the seasons first major.
 

 
Made Cut
 
Gary Player: Golf has the Grand Slam, the Tiger Slam and Harrington is inching toward a Paddy Slam, but on Friday at Augusta National Cut Line completed its own Big Three Slam.
 
As Player put the final touches on his 52nd Masters late Friday the thought occurred that we have covered all three Masters swansongs for the games Big Three ' Jack Nicklaus (2004), Arnold Palmer (2005) and now Player.
 
And the South Africans curtain call may have been the best ever. As Player approached the 18th green he paused and went to his knees, giving the course a sentimental farewell. Maybe even more inspiring was the group that awaited Player at the back of the final green.
 
In order, Player embraced Trevor Immelman, Rory Sabbatini, Louis Oosthuizen and Richard Sterne, four young South Africans who modeled their careers after Player.
 
For everyone in the golf world its a special event, Sabbatini said. I said to Gary, This is an amazing accomplishment, enjoy your relaxation after this.
 
Players Masters line is staggering: three victories ' including a 15-year run during which he finished outside the top 10 just twice ' more than 12,000 strokes taken and, of course, his 52 appearances.
 
Having come here 52 years ago, thats one year of your life here, Player said. You cannot be greedy in life and I have had more than my share.
 
Luckily for the game, Player plans to be regular in the Wednesday Par 3 Contest and will likely join Palmer as an honorary starter. It is not Knight Time at Augusta National just yet.
 
Augusta National: Some have called it a charm offensive, others a natural evolution. Either way, the sound track is back. Even on Friday, when an approaching cold front made the place look more like Royal Augusta National, birdies and roars were on the menu.
 
Theres little doubt things will tighten as Sunday approaches, but Cut Line predicts a raucous back nine on Sunday. Just like the good old days.
 
Give credit to the Augusta National powers, the players and patrons spoke and they listened. No one wants to hear the roars and the excitement more than the members, said chairman Billy Payne.
 

Made Cut ' Did Not Finish (MDF)
 
Greg Norman: At 54, the Shark is happily married, as fit as ever and worth a gazillion, but one week out of the year he starts looking a tad like the gangly kid in the back of the class with the Coke-bottle glasses.
 
The man has a charmed life, until he motors down Magnolia Lane and then all bets are off. This year, likely his last hurrah at a place that seems filled with hurt for the Aussie, it was more of the same. A teasing opening round of 70 was followed by a 77 and a missed cut.
 
It seems the golf gods dont do make goods.
 
Slow play: For all the things officials at Augusta National can control, it seems five-hour rounds are out of even their reach. Officials earlier in the week addressed slow play, likely because of last years final round which went five plus hours, and noted the policy requires threesomes to round the layout in four hours and 45 minutes.
 
It may be the only rule on property that players dont adhere to, as groups took more than five hours to complete their third rounds. If Masters officials cant stomp out slow play, what chance does the Tour have?
 

Missed Cut
 
John Daly: We may have to rename the Missed Cut portion after JD if the big man cant keep it in the fairway. Daly, who last we heard was readying for a return to competition when his six-month PGA Tour-induced suspension is lifted, was spotted down Washington Road hawking Daly Merchandise from a bus parked next to a jewelry store.
 
Many of Dalys well-documented personal three-putts can be attributed to a self-destructive lifestyle and the enabling of others, but this falls under the heading of bad decision making.
 
Times may be tough, but golf deserves more from a two-time major champion.
 
U.S. Golf Association/PGA of America/Royal & Ancient Golf Club/PGA Tour: Call it a challenge. Take $20 and an afternoon and try to blow the whole wad on food and drinks at one of Augusta Nationals vending areas. Cant do it.
 
Draft beer $2.50. Pimento cheese sandwich $1.50. Bag of chips $1. A reasonably priced day at a sporting event. Priceless, and virtually non-existent at golfs other major championships.
 
Throw in free parking and theres little wonder why the Masters is the best ticket in sports.
 
We know Augusta National plays by a different set of rules, but there has to be some middle ground the hosts of the games other majors can find to help ease the economic impact that comes with a day at a championship.
 

Email your thoughts to Rex Hoggard
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Masters Tournament