Before we pack away our Masters notebook, it’s worth one final visit back down Magnolia Lane – from a frenzied Friday for the rules staff to another Sunday show, it always takes time to completely digest the year’s first major.
Stevie. Yes, we first-named the Kiwi caddie and no, loopers never hit a shot. But the rough-around-the-edges bagman deserves his share of credit for Adam Scott’s major breakthrough on Sunday at Augusta National.
And this isn’t just about the read the New Zealander gave Scott on the second extra hole. “The winning putt might be the highlight putt of my career. Because he asked me to read it,” said Williams, who advised the Australian the walk-off birdie was two, not one, cup out on the right and much faster than he thought.
This is about the drive, be it real or perceived, Williams has brought to the relationship. Whether Scott ever arrives at his Grand Slam moment without his often-gruff caddie is debatable, but there is no denying the Aussie is tougher with Stevie on the bag. And toughness won the 2013 Masters.
James Driscoll. Few in golf could watch Monday’s bombings at the Boston Marathon with as much emotional attachment as the native Bostonian.
Driscoll watched last year’s race from a bar close to the site of the bombings and had friends near the finish line when the attacks occurred. “It was crazy,” he said on Tuesday at the RBC Heritage.
On Wednesday, Driscoll answered the craziness when he announced he will donate $1,000 for every birdie he makes this week at Harbour Town, and at next week’s Zurich Classic in New Orleans, to a Birdies for Boston initiative that will benefit the victims of the bombings.
Tweet of the week: @LukeDonald “Harbour Town is a gem of a track this week – narrow, small greens, makes you think – a great blueprint for how courses should be designed.”
Note to architects: For those whose record is stuck on the idea that bigger is better, consider that wee Harbour Town was the fifth-toughest non-major championship course on Tour last year at just 7,101 yards (par 71).
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Quick whistles. Maybe John Paramor should have kept his now-infamous stopwatch in his pocket. Maybe 14-year-old Tianlang Guan should have responded to the first two warnings to speed up during last week’s second round at the Masters.
Yet as unseemly as the one-stroke penalty for slow play appeared at the moment, the reality is we can’t lament the ills of slow play in one breath and then recoil when the application of the rules offends the senses.
Guan was hardly the only snail on Friday at Augusta National – one player was in a group behind the teen and said he never waited to hit a shot after the fourth hole during Round 2 – but he was the only one to blow through three stop signs (timings).
In some ways, Paramor’s ruling is part public service announcement. An estimated 1.4 billion potential golfers in China now know it’s not OK to play slowly.
Anchoring. Regardless of your take on anchoring and the long putter, Scott’s victory at the Masters completed the “Anchoring Slam” and likely slammed the final nail in the club’s coffin.
Officials from the USGA and R&A said they plan to make a final announcement on anchoring this spring and if Scott’s broom-handle putter didn’t push the rule makers over the ledge, 14-year-old Guan’s use of a belly putter will likely complete the process.
The rule makers have said all along that this isn’t about what Scott – who joined Keegan Bradley (PGA Championship), Webb Simpson (U.S. Open) and Ernie Els (British Open) as major winners who used long putters – does so much as it is a concern that the grassroots use of long putters has jumped dramatically in recent years.
Of course, Scott’s victory probably didn’t help.
“We were joking on Sunday that they (the USGA and R&A) will ban it before the U.S. Open,” Els said this week.
Oversized. Officials at this week’s RBC Heritage are making the best of a bad situation, and let’s hope the PGA Tour realizes this week’s increased field size is too much.
The Heritage is one of eight events that have bumped up its field size this season, from 132 to 144, in an attempt to mitigate the loss of playing opportunities as the circuit transitions to a split-calendar schedule later this year.
After stumbling through Harbour Town’s already-cramped locker room this week, (officials had to build 14 new lockers to accommodate the extended field) it’s clear this Lowcountry classic has exceeded capacity and suggestions that the Heritage should maintain a 144-player field in the future should be shelved.
As one player told Cut Line, “It’s like trying to change your shoes in a phone booth.”
Augusta National. This isn’t about Tiger Woods, who received a retroactive two-stroke penalty for an incorrect drop he took on the 15th hole during Friday’s second round at Augusta National. This is about a curious decision to “protect the player” by the tournament’s competitions committee.
While the decision to forgo disqualification, which is the normal penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard, which Woods did, is within the rules (although Rule 33-7 has never been used on Tour in more than 50 years on the books), it has left a curious legacy.
“Let's face it, committees make mistakes from time to time, and players are entitled to rely on what a committee does,” said Fred Ridley, the chair of the Masters competitions committee.
In this case, there were two mistakes. The first was when Ridley & Co. reviewed the tape of Woods’ drop and deemed it legal, and the second when they failed to notify him of the issue before he signed his scorecard.
Those who have made this a “Tiger issue,” have missed the point. This is about the mistakes made by the committee, which is supposed to protect the field, not the player.