Masters Notes Angry Phil Fond Memories
It was one of the rare times Mickelson has shown anger inside the ropes.
Ditto for Augusta National officials, who tried unsuccessfully to find out which photographer committed the crime. Billy Payne, head of the media committee last year, banned photographers from the stand for the final round in the afternoon.
Mickelson recalled that incident when Payne became club chairman.
``Nobody ended up claiming that it was them, so no photographers were allowed up on that stand,'' Mickelson said in February. ``I think for somebody to make a tough call like that, who wants coverage of the tournament but realizes he doesn't want photographers to decide the outcome or integrity of the competition, I just really appreciate the decision-making.''
Lefty returned to Augusta National last week for a practice round with his father and brother (word has it the champ posted a 65 despite missing putts inside 15 feet on the last three holes).
Sitting around the clubhouse, he got a sneak peek at this year's official program.
Imagine his surprise when he reached pages 48-49, which feature a beautiful shot of Mickelson playing the 18th hole Sunday morning, fans lining the tree-framed fairway - and Lefty at the top of his swing.
It would seem that would be a sure way to find the culprit.
Alas, club officials have investigated.
A spokesman declined to say who took the picture, only that it came from a single frame of a digital camera that didn't make the offending click. Golf photographers have confirmed there is a brand of camera that can be programmed so that it would not make a noise that could be heard from 20 feet away in certain conditions.
WIN AND STAY HOME:
Augusta National is expected to change its criteria so that PGA TOUR winners - at least some of them - would qualify for the Masters. There were eight TOUR winners since the previous Masters who are not eligible, and it's tough to feel sorry for any of them except John Senden.
Three winners won opposite-field events (D.J. Trahan, Will MacKenzie and Eric Axley). Two winners didn't have another top-10 over the last year (Jeff Maggert and Mark Wilson). Corey Pavin's only other top 10 was at Pebble Beach, where he finished nine shots behind. Charley Hoffman had three other top 10s, one of those in the fall (Las Vegas) and another opposite the Ryder Cup (Texas Open).
But a case could be made for Senden.
He won the John Deere Classic and his national championship, the Australian Open. He also tied for second in Tampa, and was poised to climb into the top 50 and qualify for Doral until he suffered a severe stomach virus that forced him to withdraw from Bay Hill.
Unable to play the final two tournaments before the cutoff for the Masters, Senden wound up No. 53.
One week before the Masters, Golf Digest magazine is releasing its biennial survey of ``America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses,'' and Augusta National has dropped one spot to No. 3. Pine Valley tops the list, followed by Shinnecock Hills at No. 2.
But it could have been worse for the home of the Masters.
Earlier this month, Augusta National fell from No. 3 to No. 10 in the Golfweek magazine list of top 100 classic courses (pre-1960). This was brought to the attention of Tiger Woods.
``Maybe they can't draw the ball,'' Woods said about the Golfweek ranking.
The top 10 list from Golf Digest: Pine Valley, Shinnecock Hill, Augusta National, Cypress Point, Oakmont, Pebble Beach, Merion, Winged Foot, Seminole and Crystal Downs, appearing in the top 10 for the first time.
The top 10 classic courses from Golfweek: Cypress Point, Pine Valley, Shinnecock, Merion, Pebble Beach, Oakmont, National Golf Links, Crystal Downs, Prairie Dunes and Augusta National.
Phil Blackmar won't forget his first trip to the Masters. He was on the practice green on the day before the tournament began, looking at a slippery 4 1/2-foot putt, when a buddy asked him how he would play it if that putt was to win the Masters.
``I'd bomb right in there,'' Blackmar said.
It was early in his career, when he was young and bold and quite confident over those putts. Blackmar failed to notice, however, that another player was listening to their conversation.
``You'd do what?'' Jack Nicklaus said.
Nicklaus suggested lagging the putt so that if it missed, he still had a chance in a playoff. Slightly startled, Blackmar said he was proficient at that length and it might be his only shot at a green jacket.
Then his worst fear was realized. Nicklaus said to him, ``Let's see it.''
``We were close to the edge of the green, so the gallery picked up on this,'' Blackmar said. ``I was a little nervous, but I hit it firm, pulled it just a hair and it spun around the cup and went about 6 feet by. The fans let out this big sigh. Then Jack tries it. He goes into his crouch and barely touches it. It trickles ... and trickles ... and trickles ... and falls in. And the crowd goes nuts. And I'm just beet-red.''
Blackmar made the cut in his Masters debut, finishing 45th with rounds of 76-73-73-76.
Nicklaus was playing in his 28th Masters, and he did slightly better.
The year was 1986. It was Nicklaus' last Masters victory.
Oklahoma State golf coach Mike McGraw told Golfweek magazine that highly regarded Pablo Martin plans to turn pro after the NCAA championship in June. ... Tiger Woods has earned more money in 24 World Golf Championships ($17,182,500) than Sergio Garcia has in 141 starts on the PGA TOUR ($16,687,482). ... AT&T said it will offer video previews, highlights and other coverage of the Masters Tournament through its television services, the Internet and mobile phones.
STAT OF THE WEEK:
The Masters invites the top 10 players on the PGA TOUR money list through Doral, and Mark Wilson was at No. 12. He was No. 10 in the FedEx Cup standings.
``It didn't help anybody win, because he wins all the time.'' - Sergio Garcia, on whether Tiger Woods' dominance has helped raised the level of play on the PGA TOUR.
Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish
NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.
Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.
The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.
Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.
The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.
Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him
It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.
Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.
The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:
The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.
For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.
Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter
After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.
But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.
Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":
Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.
Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.
Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.
The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.
“There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.
In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.
“To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”
Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.
“To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.