Hooks and Cuts: Having a Ball


AUGUSTA, Ga. – No U.S. Open grind-for-par trek up Everest, the Masters is a snowboard ride down Telluride with thrills and danger lurking. Not surprisingly, the X Games kids are having a ball.

Here are some hooks and cuts from a crazy Friday at Augusta National:

  • – Tiger Woods certainly grabbed our attention. I’m assuming he has the attention of Rory McIlroy and Jason Day.

– Azaleas bloom and Freddie contends ... pleasant springtime traditions at Augusta.

– Before McIlroy’s first bogey of the tournament (at the 12th) you had to put the brakes on runaway thoughts like, 'he could run away with this and he could break Tiger’s scoring record of 18 under.'

– There’s bigness to what Rory’s already done – 62 to win at Quail Hollow, 63 to open at the Old Course, 65 here. He’s not merely dipping his toes into golf’s waters, he’s doing a full cannonball.

– Mentioned the X Games kids. Married with three kids is doing fine, too. Geoff Ogilvy surfs, plays guitar and compares Jimi Hendrix with Seve, a pair of originals. Ogilvy is into a nice jam session with a pair of 69s.

– I pulled a muscle in my back watching Rory, JDay and Rickie swing driver today. Lord.

– They did their jobs Friday with little fanfare: Lee Westwood from even to 5 under, Jim Furyk and Luke Donald from even to 4 under.

– Colleague Brandel Chamblee says winning a major at a young age is the greatest predictor of all-time success. Think Sarazen, Jones, Jack, Seve and Tiger. Asked if Rory fits, Brandel said simply, “I’ll let you know Sunday night.”

– It’s not a Masters without at least one tender moment. Gentle Ben Crenshaw acknowledging caddie Carl Jackson on his 50th Masters loop on the walk up 18 to a huge ovation was really nice.

– Seen lots of justifiable tributes commemorating the 25th anniversary of Jack’s ’86 Masters. Conspicuously absent are the sepia tone montages remembering the last leg of arguably the greatest achievement in professional golf history, the 10-year anniversary of the Tiger Slam.

– World No. 1 Martin Kaymer conceded he does not yet know how to play this golf course. The former No. 1 who is now No. 7 would never have said that about any course. And he would never have shot 78 to open.

– Can you want it too badly? Phil Mickelson wearing out three drivers on the tournament practice range until dusk makes you wonder. Colleague Notah Begay says Phil needs 14 under over the next two days to have a chance. That’s a tall ask.

– Jason Day thumps the golf ball – hard and heavy like tennis great Rafael Nadal.

– You want to be great, Rory? Handle the weekend pressure that can drag like ankle weights.