Augusta knew the answers and passed the test

By Associated PressApril 13, 2009, 4:00 pm
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AUGUSTA, Ga. ' Masters chairman Billy Payne called it an important test for Augusta National to regain its personality as a golf course where its as much fun to listen as it is to watch.
One can only suspect now that Payne was bluffing.
He knew the answer before Chad Campbell set a Masters record by opening the tournament with five straight birdies, before a record 17 eagles were recorded in the second round, and before a dozen players went to the back nine Sunday thinking they could win.
I think we have it about right, Payne said on the eve of the Masters.
The score required for the three-man playoff won by Angel Cabrera was 12-under 276. That was the lowest score since 2005, the last year before the final installment of changes (meaning extra length).
Not everyone went for the green on the 13th and 15th holes Sunday, but it sure seemed that way. Both holes played to an average of about 4.3, lower than some of the par 4s. But those two holes are what make the back nine special, the chance for someone to make up ground quickly.
The volume was cranked up. The pressure was ramped up.
Theres roars going up all over the place out there, and thats what its all about, really, Graeme McDowell said after his final round Sunday. Its supposed to be entertaining for the crowds. Thats what these people come to see.
Payne needed some help from Mother Nature, but not that much.
After three practice rounds of bone-dry conditions, the greens were surprisingly soft and receptive in the first round. Had officials kept them firm, there would not have been a record 19 rounds in the 60s.
On the scorecard, Augusta National was 10 yards shorter, with the only official change on the first hole. On the golf course, expanded tee boxes at Nos. 7 and 15, for example, allowed for the tee markers to be moved forward and the holes to be far less frightening.
Augusta National is more than a quarter-mile longer than when Tiger Woods won his first Masters, but the length was necessary. It only needed a few years for players to catch up to the changes and overcome their intimidation. It needed a week of good weather, and for a few small adjustments on the tees and greens.
That made everything about right.
It sounded perfect.
Even for those watching from home, it was hard it ignore the cheers. They could be heard from a nearby hole even as the camera was trained on a player standing over a putt.
One of the more fascinating scenes happened early in the final round, when Cabrera was playing his pitch to the par-5 second hole. Then came a ground-shaking roar as his ball was in flight. Just 40 yards away is the seventh green, where Phil Mickelson deposited an iron a foot away from the cup for another birdie.
It was like that all afternoon.
The Augusta Chronicle in Mondays edition devoted a half-page to a sequence of roars, and most of the entries were about five minutes apart. Mickelsons birdie at the seventh. Woods eagle at the eighth. Dustin Johnson making consecutive eagles, only the second player in Masters history to do that. Kenny Perry making his first birdie from 20 feet on No. 12.
The last three years, about the only excitement was paying $1.50 for a pimiento cheese sandwich.
Numbers alone dont do this Masters justice.
The lowest score of the final round was merely a 66 by Masters rookie John Merrick. Cabrera and Perry, the co-leaders after 54 holes, each closed with a 71. Campbell shot a 69 to join them in the playoff.
For all their fireworks, Mickelson only shot a 67, Woods a 68.
Mickelson might look back one day at this major as one he let slip away, although certainly not as dramatic as his double bogey on the 18th hole at Winged Foot in the 2006 U.S. Open. After a record-tying 30 on the front nine, he played back nine in 37 ' a 9-iron into the water on No. 12, and missed putts for eagle at No. 15 and birdie at No. 17, both from about 4 feet, neither even hitting the hole. He finished three behind.
The magic of the Masters, however, is not so much about the score as it is the opportunity.
Woods also had his chances, twice grazing the cup with eagle putts. Campbell had two good looks at eagle, and he gave himself a good shot at birdie on the 18th hole.
Oddly enough, Cabrera was about the only player who didnt give himself great chances. He missed the green to the right at No. 15 and had to scramble for birdie. The key putt might have been his 18-footer for birdie on the par-3 16th after Perry nearly made an ace.
Yes, the Masters allows for a charge. But it also requires a steady hand.
For those ready to jump on Perry for his bogey-bogey finish to slip into a playoff, remember that the great Tiger Woods did the same thing in 2005 after that famous chip-in on the 16th hole. The difference is that Woods made birdie on the first playoff hole.
There is so much to remember about this Masters ' the Woods-Mickelson pairing that no one wanted to see end, Perry going birdie-birdie-bogey-bogey, Cabreras par save from the trees in the playoffs.
Augusta National passed this important test with flying colors.
There is an Argentine in a green jacket.
And there are millions of fans who cant wait for next year.

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    "Vantage Point with Mike Tirico" set to debut Tuesday, July 17 at 9 p.m. ET on Golf Channel

    By Golf Channel Public RelationsJuly 17, 2018, 10:15 am

    Special Hour Complementing the Network’s Week-Long Golf Central Live From The Open News Coverage; Premiere Scheduled to Include Interview with 2014 Open Runner-Up Rickie Fowler On-Site from Carnoustie

    Features Include Tirico and Curtis Strange Re-watching ’99 Open at Carnoustie & Jim “Bones” Mackay Facilitating Exclusive Conversation with Caddies Michael Greller, John Wood Recounting Final Round Pairing at 2017 Open

    To help set the table ahead of The 147TH Open at Carnoustie, Golf Channel will premiere Vantage Point with Mike Tirico on Tuesday, July 17 at 9 p.m. ET. An extension of the network’s week-long Golf Central Live From The Open comprehensive news coverage, Vantage Point will revisit landmark moments in The Open’s history, uncover personal stories relevant to the fabric of the week and feature a roundtable discussion with past “Champion Golfers of the Year” on golf’s original championship.

    “It’s a thrill to be going back to The Open again this year, which is a fitting setting to launch this new opportunity,” said Tirico, NBC Sports host who this week will celebrate his 22nd consecutive year covering The Open. “I love being a part of the Golf Channel team during golf’s biggest weeks, and anticipate contributing to our commitment to great storytelling with Vantage Point.”

    Kicking off the premiere of Vantage Point will be Tirico’s exclusive interview with 2014 Open runner-up and 2015 PLAYERS champion Rickie Fowler on-site from Carnoustie. One of Fowler’s favorite events, he has missed just one cut in eight previous appearances at The Open. Other highlights within the show include:

    • Jim “Bones” Mackay facilitating an exclusive conversation between caddies Michael Greller (Jordan Spieth) and John Wood (Matt Kuchar) recounting the final round pairing at The Open last July.
    • Tirico hosting a roundtable discussion with past “Champion Golfers of the Year”: David Duval, Tom Lehman and Justin Leonard.
    • A recollection of one of the most unforgettable collapses in major championship golf, when Jean van de Velde surrendered a three-shot lead on the 72nd hole in 1999 at The Open. Tirico and Curtis Strange – both on the live tournament broadcast that year for ABC/ESPN – recently re-watched the telecast together for the first time since calling it live.


    “This is harder to watch than I thought it was going to be. I’ve never seen anything like

    that in my life. I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like that again.” – Curtis Strange


    “I think I got caught up in the whole deal and felt human for the guy.” – Mike Tirico


    Vantage Point with Mike Tirico will complement the network’s Golf Central Live From The Open, which will feature nearly 60 hours of comprehensive news coverage from Carnoustie. In total, NBC Sports will dedicate more than 350 hours to showcasing the third men’s major championship of the year, including nearly 50 live hours of the network’s Emmy-nominated tournament coverage – annually the most live hours of coverage from any golf event – spanning from Thursday’s opening tee shot to Sunday’s final putt.

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    How to watch The Open on TV and online

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 2018, 8:40 am

    You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

    Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

    In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on  

    Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

    (All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; or check the GLE app)

    Monday, July 16

    GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (

    GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (

    GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (

    Tuesday, July 17

    GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

    Wednesday, July 18

    GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

    Thursday, July 19

    GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (

    GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

    GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

    Friday, July 20

    GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

    GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

    Saturday, July 21

    GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

    NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (

    GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (

    Sunday, July 22

    GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

    NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM ( Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (

    GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (

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    Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

    By Tiger TrackerJuly 17, 2018, 8:40 am

    Tiger Woods is competing in his first Open Championship since 2015. We're tracking him this week at Carnoustie.

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    The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 2018, 8:30 am

    Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

    What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

    What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

    How old is it?

    It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

    Where is it played?

    There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

    Where will it be played this year?

    At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

    Who has won The Open on that course?

    Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

    Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

    Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

    Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

    This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

    Who has won this event the most?

    Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

    What about the Morrises?

    Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

    Have players from any particular country dominated?

    In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

    Who is this year's defending champion?

    That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

    What is the trophy called?

    The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

    Which Opens have been the most memorable?

    Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

    When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

    Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.