The Roars Will Return

By Adam BarrApril 7, 2007, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. ' I wouldnt worry too much.
Some Masters watchers, accustomed to the status quo, have lamented the absence of the frequent, pine-shuddering roars usually heard from corners of this beautiful golf course on tournament afternoons. For the 2007 Masters, in which balls have bounced, skidded, caromed, careened, lipped and gone loco ' done everything but behave ' the soundtrack has been described as muted.
Gone are the soft conditions that in recent years have made the greens seem incredibly receptive on some days. Gone as well are the sure birdies on shortish par-5s, the spinny wedges that sucked back and danced in golfs greatest garden, the guarantee of soaring second shots into Nos. 13 and 15. And gone are the roars that often accompanied these feats. The uninterrupted supply of pretty shots from the worlds best has simply dried up.
Natures A-Team has combined to bring on the drought. Rain has been sparse in eastern Georgia this spring. The northwest wind picked up Wednesday night, quartering right-to-left along the first fairway and playing mercilessly with the high shots needed for soft green landings all over the course. Scores have told the tale: In Saturday mornings chill (the wind shoved the temperature into the thirties when the first group set out at 10 a.m. EDT), the first four pairs could manage no better than bogey on the first hole. Eight guys, not a par among them.
But still, Im not worried. We will hear roars again, and pretty soon. I hear the Birdie Boosters wailing, But this is no fun! We dont want to embarrass the best players in the world, do we? Well, no. But I do want to challenge them. I want to see the best at this game bring the full measure of their physical and mental powers to the fore, especially at the games greatest championships.
In short, this Masters feels like a major should feel.
Toughness of this sort in a golf challenge is, like so many other things, a matter of degree. Somewhere between the old Bob Hope birdiefests and the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock, where things got so crusty by Sunday that balls could not be glued onto some greens, is the proper balance for a major challenge. Whether nature does it, or man applies his agronomic skill to make it happen, or some combination ensues, conditions like this are good for golf. It is a gift-free environment, every stroke saved a stroke well-earned, every mental disaster averted an athletic success of the highest magnitude. Come prepared, control yourself, or make Friday night plane reservations.
The winner of this Masters will be known as much for his survival skills as for his imagination. But make no mistake, he will be known for both.
And that makes me think a month ahead, to The Players. (The PGA TOUR has renamed the Players Championship to this simpler form.) The TPC Sawgrass has a new foundation, so to speak ' almost a foot of organic material that built up under the turf over a quarter century was removed (the bulldozers fired up right after the 2006 Players), and new, drainage-friendly sand has been put in. Then the turf was replaced. The effect will be a fast-draining course that plays hard and fast ' perhaps not always as firm and speedy as Royal Liverpool did for the 2006 Open Championship, in the middle of western Englands record heat wave ' but plenty of bounds, bounces, roll-outs and touch challenges. For fans of exciting golf, a game which has for centuries been meant to include a healthy dose of randomness, it could be a great week.
Like this one. As a matter of fact, it makes me want to roar. And as players figure out how to work with a hard and fast Augusta National, youll hear more roars here, too.
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    Next up for Koepka: Buddies and a bachelor party

    By Will GrayJune 24, 2018, 7:46 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Coming off a successful title defense at the U.S. Open, Brooks Koepka arrived at the Travelers Championship in need of a nap. It appears he won’t be getting one anytime soon.

    Koepka normally wakes up by 6 a.m. without using an alarm, but without much down time since his victory at Shinnecock Hills he slept in until 8:20 a.m. Sunday morning, prior to his 10:40 a.m. tee time. Any impact to his pre-round routine appeared negligible, as Koepka fired a 5-under 65 that included seven birdies over his first 13 holes.

    “I felt like today was kind of the first day I got everything back,” Koepka said. “I was definitely running behind, but it was nice to catch up on some sleep.”

    Koepka became the first U.S. Open winner to play the week after since Justin Rose in 2013, and he finished the Travelers at 9 under with four straight sub-par rounds. While he’s got some free time in the coming days, it won’t exactly be restful.

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

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    “We’ve got 11 guys that I’m pretty close with, so I’m looking forward to hanging out with them in Boston for a few days and then [getting] back down to West Palm for a night, and then we’re off to my best friend’s bachelor party,” Koepka said. “I was really hoping to get some rest, but I don’t know how much that will happen.”

    Last year, Koepka took a month off following his U.S. Open win at Erin Hills, only touched a club once, and still finished T-6 at The Open at Royal Birkdale. While this will be his final competitive start before Carnoustie, he expects to make a strong run toward a third major title next month in Scotland.

    “I’m shutting it down for a while. I don’t feel like I need to play,” Koepka said. “I feel like my game’s in a good spot, played really well this week. Just some stupid mistakes and mental errors. That’s all it was, lack of focus and low energy. To be honest with you, I’m not surprised. I did play well though, I putted well, and I’m somewhat pleased.”

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    Spieth ends busy stretch without top-10 finish

    By Will GrayJune 24, 2018, 7:39 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – There were no final-round heroics this time around for Jordan Spieth at the Travelers Championship.

    After taking the title last year with perhaps the most memorable shot of the year, Spieth appeared poised to make a robust defense of his title after an opening-round 63 gave him a share of the lead. But that proved to be as good as it would get, as he played the next three rounds in a combined 3 over to drop outside the top 40 on the final leaderboard.

    It marked the end of a pedestrian run of six events in seven weeks for Spieth, during which his best finish was a tie for 21st at the AT&T Byron Nelson.

    “A lot of cut-line golf, which is somewhat unusual historically for me, fortunately,” Spieth said after closing with a 1-under 69. “Kind of a grind, but I made actually a lot of progress where I needed to within the last few weeks.”

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Spieth has struggled to get on track on the greens this year, but he has started to turn a corner in recent weeks, specifically during a missed cut at the Memorial Tournament, and he picked up more than three shots on the field this week in strokes gained: putting.

    “My putting’s right on point where it needs to be. It’s getting better every single week,” Spieth said. “It’s the best it’s been in a couple years.”

    Unfortunately for Spieth, a slight uptick in putting has coincided with some regression from his normally reliable ball-striking. Of the 74 players who made the cut at TPC River Highlands, he ranked 61st in strokes gained: tee-to-green.

    “I’ve just got to kind of get my alignment back in order on the full swing. It’s tough when you swing and you think you hit a good shot, and you look up and the ball’s, it could be 15 yards right or 15 yards left, and it’s all because of alignment,” Spieth said. “It’s literally the same thing I went through with the putting. I’ve just got to find a way to get it back on track with the full swing.”

    Having concluded a busy stretch, Spieth noted that he now has “a few weeks off.” But still in search of his first quality chance to contend heading into a final round this year, he didn’t rule out the notion of adding a start before defending his title at Carnoustie next month.

    Spieth is not in the field for next week’s Quicken Loans National, but he won the John Deere Classic in both 2013 and 2015, which will be played the week before The Open.

    “As far as leading into The Open, we’ll see,” Spieth said. “Last year I went in after three weeks off and it didn’t hurt me. So I believe I can get the work in whether I’m playing or not, to get the repetitions.”

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    Chamblee comments on Choi's unique step-through swing

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 24, 2018, 3:55 pm

    The golf world found itself enamored with a largely unknown journeyman this weekend.

    Ho-sung Choi went from 554th in the world to No. 1 in the hearts of all those who swing the golf club just a little bit differently thanks to his run at the Korean Open.

    The 44-year-old with the exaggerated step through impact found himself two off the pace through 54 holes and in contention for one of two available invitations to this year's Open Championship at Carnoustie.

    Choi fell out of the hunt for tournament title and the Open exemption with a final-round 74, but nonetheless left an impression with his tie for fifth.

    Asked about Choi's swing Saturday night, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee offered the following:

    "If Chi Chi Rodriguez and Gary Player had a golf school, what would their first professional golfer swing like? Voila," Chamblee said.

    "Both those legends had walk through finishes, but Ho Sung has taken this move to a new level with a borderline pirouette to keep from hanging back.

    "In an era when professional golfers get accused of having golf swings that all look alike, I’ve never seen anyone swing quite like Ho Sung Choi.

    "I can’t wait to try this on the range tomorrow."

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    Wallace holds off charges to win BMW International

    By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 3:43 pm

    PULHEIM, Germany - England's Matt Wallace shot a 7-under 65 to hold off a record-breaking charge from Thorbjorn Olesen and win the BMW International Open on Sunday.

    Wallace finished on 10-under 278 - just ahead of Olesen, Mikko Korhonen and 2008 winner Martin Kaymer, whose chances took a blow with a bogey on the 17th hole.

    ''I want to keep building on this,'' Wallace said after his third European Tour win. ''Obviously this gives me a lot of confidence to go on and play well and I want to kick on and hopefully do this in the bigger events from now on.''

    Full-field scores from the BMW International Open

    Olesen had played himself into contention with the lowest round in tournament history, with nine birdies and an eagle for an 11-under 61. It was the lowest round of his European Tour career and it gave the Dane a three-shot lead before the final group had even teed off.

    ''I was just trying today to go out there and build on my game, see if I could shoot a low score,'' Olesen said. ''Obviously as the round progressed I kept on thinking birdies and trying to make the round better. Finishing with four birdies was pretty nice.''

    Wallace turned in 34 but then made five birdies in seven holes from the turn to edge a shot past Olesen. He waited as Kaymer and Korhonen went close with rounds of 68 and 67, respectively.

    England's Aaron Rai and Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard finished joint-fifth with rounds of 69.