Memorable Shots a Masters Tradition

By Associated PressApril 2, 2006, 4:00 pm
They can stretch Augusta National beyond the county line, or move the tees downtown, as Jack Nicklaus once jokingly suggested. They can add a pond and remove a bunker, plant trees and cut them down.
But there is one thing about the Masters that doesn't change.

Somewhere along the way to a green jacket lies a shot so incredible, so unforgettable, that it becomes part of the legacy of the Masters, a signature moment on a stage built for such drama.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods' added to Masters lore with his chip in at the 16th en route to his victory last year.
Gene Sarazen put the Masters on the map with his 'shot heard 'round the world,' a 4-wood from 235 yards on the par-5 15th that went into the cup for a double eagle and carried him into a playoff in 1935. And that was before television was around.
'It was just a piece of luck,' Sarazen said.
And then there's Tiger Woods.
His 2 on the scorecard last year came with a 60-degree sand wedge from a much smaller distance, about 30 feet from behind the green to the hole, a shot that traveled twice that length by the time it climbed up the ridge on the par-3 16th, stopped like a school bus crossing railroad tracks, then made a slow, tantalizing
trek toward the cup.
It stopped on the lip two full seconds, and history pulled it into the hole.
'I was never thinking it had a chance,' said Steve Williams, Woods' caddie who stood by his side, crouching, hoping for one more turn, his heart stopped like the thousands of fans surrounding the green and millions watching on TV. 'It was slowing down, and I said, 'I can't believe it's going to be short.' But for some reason, it kept going. It was just amazing. You're just about to go forward and give whatever your reaction you're going to give, and then it stops.
'And then, boom!'
Sarazen and Woods provided bookend memories, 70 years apart, shots that define the magic of the Masters.
No telling what this year will bring, even on an Augusta National course that again has been strengthened by adding 155 yards on six holes in chairman Hootie Johnson's attempt to keep the course current with the times.
Woods is the defending champion, joining Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer as the only players with at least four green jackets. He is remembered for the U-turn chip on the 16th green, but he is more proud of the 3-wood to the fairway, the 8-iron to 15 feet and the birdie putt to beat Chris DiMarco in a playoff.
The Masters starts Thursday without Nicklaus, who competed at Augusta National for the last time a year ago. Some say the longer course will make improbable a back-nine charge such as the one Nicklaus delivered 20 years ago when he shot 30 to win his sixth Masters.
But there will be something mystical that other majors rarely offer.
Seems like there always is.
Larry Mize chipping in from 140 feet to rip the heart out of Greg Norman. Fred Couples' ball rolling back toward Rae's Creek on the 12th hole, stopped by a blade of grass. Nicklaus making a 45-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole, as Tom Weiskopf and Johnny Miller watched dejectedly from the tee box.
'You can feel there is an aura seeping out of the ground,' DiMarco said. 'You remember Jack making that putt up the hill, and you remember Davis (Love III) chipping up the hill. I try to forget Tiger chipping in.'
Woods strives for perfection, which is why he is so proud of the 8-iron into the 18th green in the playoff. But even he concedes he will be remembered more, if not forever, because of that chip.
He had a one-shot lead and was on the ropes, hitting an 8-iron that went too far and too much to the left, and he was lucky it found grass behind the 16th green, especially after DiMarco hit his tee shot into 15 feet.
'I knew that it was going to be virtually one of the most difficult shots you could possibly have on the whole golf course,' Woods said.
He feared the ball was against the first cut of rough, and was relieved to see he had room to get the sand wedge on it, although he had to pick up the club quicker than he would have liked.
'After I saw where the ball was, I thought I had an opportunity to put the ball inside of Chris, which was about 15 feet,' he said. 'And to be honest with you, that's all I was trying to do. Obviously, turned out a little better than that.'
It was important to get the chip inside DiMarco for two reasons. If DiMarco made his birdie putt, Woods could salvage par and lose only one shot, and still have a share of the lead. Or if DiMarco missed -- and he had done that plenty in the final round -- a par would maintain the lead and give Woods enormous momentum.
But birdie?
No one imagined that. Not Woods. Not DiMarco. And not Williams, who has seen Woods do the unthinkable.
'It was one of those shots you can stand there with 100 balls, and never do it again,' Williams said.
There was no discussion about the club -- a 60-degree wedge. The idea was to hit a low spinner up the hill so that it slowed to a stop, rolled down the ridge to the cup and ideally stopped about 4 feet away at best, under the hole.
'I had a spot picked out,' Williams said. 'When it landed, I knew it was going to be a good shot. It got to the top of the hill, stopped, but I expected it to run farther to our right. It rolled a lot straighter than I thought. I think the golfing gods may have been there, because it broke a little less that what you think.'
The cheer might have registered on the Richter scale.
'He screamed so loud ... if you watch on TV, you cannot even think about hearing him,' DiMarco said. 'I said, 'Good job' to him four times at the top of my lungs before he saw me mouthing it and said thanks. You can't hear.'
Woods' miracle chip for birdie might embody what the Masters brings, but it also speaks to his own legacy as the dominant player of his time, on pace to be the greatest champion ever.
He showed up at Augusta National last year having gone 10 starts without a major, matching his longest drought in the Grand Slam events. He no longer was No. 1 in the world. His supremacy was questioned.
And then he found another gear.
Woods returns having won the Masters and British Open, and finished second at the U.S. Open and in a tie for fourth at the PGA Championship. Woods already has won three times this year, including Dubai on the European tour. He is entrenched at No. 1, with twice as many points as Vijay Singh.
'His powers of concentration or determination to get the job done are just so phenomenal,' said his good friend Mark O'Meara. 'It's on the level of Jack Nicklaus.'
Woods has been spotty, however, finishing a combined 25 shots behind in his last two starts. His father is battling cancer, and took a turn for the worse over the holidays, a situation heavy on his mind.
But he remains a big favorite at Augusta National, perhaps more so this year at the Masters because of the additional length and because none of the six players behind him in the world ranking has won this year.
And because of moments like that chip adding to Woods' legend, players wonder what he'll do next.
The birdie chip provided free advertising for Nike, with the swoosh on Woods' golf ball in full view for two seconds before it disappeared into the cup. And it was another signature moment for Verne Lundquist of CBS Sports, famous for his 'Yes, Sir!' call when Nicklaus holed his birdie putt on the 17th hole to win in
'Oh, wow!' Lundquist said as Woods' ball neared the cup. And when it dropped, he added, 'In your life, have you ever seen anything like that?'
At the Masters, the answer is probably: Yes.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - 70th Masters Tournament
  • Full Coverage - 69th Masters Tournament
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    Club apologizes for calling cops on black women members

    By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 11:07 pm

    YORK, Pa. - A golf club in Pennsylvania has apologized for calling police on a group of black women after the co-owner and his father said they were playing too slowly and refused requests to leave the course.

    “I felt we were discriminated against,” one of the women, Myneca Ojo, told the York Daily Record. “It was a horrific experience.”

    Sandra Thompson and four friends met up Saturday to play a round of golf at the Grandview Golf Club, where they are all members, she told the newspaper.

    At the second hole, a white man whose son co-owns the club came up to them twice to complain that they weren’t keeping up with the pace of play. Thompson, an attorney and the head of the York chapter of the NAACP, told the newspaper it was untrue.

    On the same hole, another member of the group, Sandra Harrison, said she spoke with a Grandview golf pro, who said they were fine since they were keeping pace with the group ahead of them.

    Despite that, the women skipped the third hole to avoid any other issues, she said.

    It’s part of golf etiquette that slow-moving players let groups behind them play through if they are holding things up, and often golf courses have personnel who monitor the pace of play, letting golfers know when they are taking too long.

    The five are part of a larger group of local women known as Sisters in the Fairway. The group has been around for at least a decade, and all of its members are experienced players who have golfed all over the county and world, Thompson said. They’re very familiar with golf etiquette, she said.

    After the ninth hole, where it is customary to take a break before continuing on the next nine holes, three of the group decided to leave because they were so shaken up by the earlier treatment, the women told the paper.

    Thompson said the man from the second hole, identified as former York County Commissioner Steve Chronister, his son, club co-owner Jordan Chronister and several other white, male employees approached the remaining two women and said they took too long of a break and they needed to leave the course.

    The women argued they took an appropriate break, and that the men behind them were still on their beer break and not ready to tee off, as seen in a video Thompson gave the newspaper. The women were told that the police had been called, and so they waited.

    Northern York County Regional Police arrived, conducted interviews and left without charging anyone.

    “We were called there for an issue, the issue did not warrant any charges,” Northern York County Regional Police Chief Mark Bentzel said. “All parties left and we left as well.”

    A phone listing for Steve Chronister rang busy on Monday. He told the York Daily Record he didn’t have time to comment on Sunday.

    Jordan Chronister’s wife and co-owner of the club, JJ Chronister, said Sunday she called the women personally to apologize.

    “We sincerely apologize to the women for making them feel uncomfortable here at Grandview, that is not our intention in any way,” she told the newspaper. “We want all of our members to feel valued and that they can come out here and have a great time, play golf and enjoy the experience.”

    She said she hopes to meet with them to discuss how the club can use what happened as a learning experience and do better in the future.

    Thompson said she’s not sure a meeting is what needs to happen.

    “There needs to be something more substantial to understand they don’t treat people in this manner,” she said.

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    Randall's Rant: Augusta has the power to strengthen LPGA

    By Randall MellApril 23, 2018, 9:57 pm

    Augusta National Golf Club is turning women’s golf upside down.

    If you care about the LPGA, that should be your hope, anyway.

    Your hope should be that the investment made in the new Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship announced at the Masters three weeks ago will eventually filter up the women’s ranks.

    While the new amateur event comes with significant challenges for the women’s tour - with its first major (the ANA Inspiration) in a tough spot the same week as the Augusta National Women’s Amateur - there is LPGA seed money being planted in Georgia

    There’s an investment that may grow the women’s game beyond fueling new interest among girls.

    “I just hope corporations start recognizing the value of investing in the women’s game, the way Augusta National does,” two-time major champion Cristie Kerr said. “There are so many corporate sponsors in the men’s game who don’t invest a single dollar in the women’s game. Obviously, that’s their prerogative, but we have a lot of value as a tour.”

    And there’s your hope.

    Augusta National is a collection of power brokers, CEOs and leaders now invested in growing the women’s game.

    They’re taking a special interest in watching these young female amateurs emerge, and it’s only natural to expect they’ll become emotionally invested in where these young players go.

    And a lot of these young players will go on to the LPGA.

    The LPGA is thriving under commissioner Mike Whan’s leadership, with Whan seeing opportunities where others didn’t. He saw Asian interest in the tour as an asset, not the liability so many thought a decade ago.

    The LPGA had withered to 23 events in 2011 with $40 million in total prize money. This year, it's up to 34 events with a tour-record $68 million in prize money. Whan did that with a lot of Asian backing.

    Of the 10 tour events the LPGA has staged so far this year, including this week’s tournament in San Francisco, nine have Asian-based title sponsors. Even the LPGA’s domestic events are thriving on Asian money. 

    All six of the U.S. events staged so far this year have Asian-based title sponsors. You have to move into May and next week’s Volunteers of America Texas Classic before finding an American corporate title sponsor of an American LPGA event.

    That starts changing with summer approaching, but overall there will be 17 Asian-based companies or organizations as title sponsors of LPGA events this year, with 14 American-based entities sponsoring or owning events.

    Whan says that’s a good thing.

    “The diversity of sponsorship on the LPGA makes us a stronger business,” Whan said. “Since I’ve been in office, we’ve worked through recessions in different parts of the world. None of those recessions were crippling to our overall schedule, because we have so many sponsors on board, from so many different places.”

    Whan says American corporate interest is growing considerably, with more American marketing partners joining the LPGA this year. The next steps players would like to see are increased purses and endorsement opportunities for women.

    The winning two-man team at the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic this week will take home a combined $2,073,000. This week’s LPGA Mediheal Championship features a $1.5 million purse for the entire field.

    “The income gap in golf is as much a concern to me as the corporate income gap is to working women,” 12-time LPGA winner Stacy Lewis wrote in an essay earlier this year for the World Economic Forum.

    U.S. Solheim Cup captain and LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster started wearing a San Francisco Giants cap this year with no endorsement deals on her bag or shirt. She has become more outspoken about the lack of corporate support for all female golf pros.

    “I'm going to say it right now, and I probably shouldn't say it, but I just don't understand how all these companies get away with supporting PGA Tour events and not supporting the LPGA,” Inkster said at the last Solheim Cup. “It makes me a little upset, because I think we've got a great product. We deserve our due.”

    With Augusta National investing in young amateur women, it may only be a matter of time until corporate America significantly steps up support. The game’s greatest power brokers appear ready to grow with the young women they will begin investing in next year. That should be the hope for anyone who cares about the LPGA.

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    Report: Tour close to finalizing Detroit tournament

    By Will GrayApril 23, 2018, 7:07 pm

    With the final pieces of the 2019 schedule falling into place, the PGA Tour appears on the verge of returning to Michigan for the first time in nearly a decade.

    According to a Detroit News report, the Tour is "believed to be close" to an agreement to bring a tournament to the Motor City beginning in 2019, reportedly likely to take place at Detroit Golf Club near downtown.

    While the specifics remain undisclosed, the prime candidate for such a move appears to be The National. The Washington, D.C.-area event, which benefits Tiger Woods' TGR Foundation, was sponsored by Detroit-based Quicken Loans from 2014-2017. This year the tournament will be conducted at TPC Potomac without a title sponsor.

    According to a Detroit News report in September, Quicken Loans CEO Dan Gilbert was open to continuing his company's sponsorship of the event if it shifted to Detroit.

    In addition to The National, the only other current PGA Tour event without a title sponsor is the Houston Open. On Monday Charles Schwab was introduced as the new title sponsor of the Fort Worth Invitational beginning in 2019.

    The PGA Tour has not held an event in the state of Michigan since 2009, the final year of the now-defunct Buick Open at Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club. While the final details of a revamped schedule have yet to be announced, the Tour is expected to unveil its itinerary for the 2018-19 season at The Players next month.

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    Inbee Park quietly reclaims world No. 1

    By Randall MellApril 23, 2018, 6:44 pm

    Inbee Park moved back to No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings in about as ho-hum fashion as you’ll ever see a player take the top spot.

    It isn’t that she doesn’t care about the top ranking. It just wasn’t a priority in her return to golf this year, after missing big portions of the last two years with injuries.

    With an Olympic gold medal and seven major championship titles, the LPGA Hall of Famer isn’t done trying to top the scoreboards that matter most to her.

    “To be honest, I never really think about being No. 1 again,” Park said early last week, before tying for second at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open. “If it comes to me, great. If not, it doesn't matter.”

    It came to her for the fourth time in her career.

    Park, 29, reigned at No. 1 for 59 weeks in her longest run on top, back in the 2013 and ’14 seasons.

    Oddly, this run to No. 1 almost comes as a surprise to Park, who didn’t need long to get back to the top spot after returning to the tour. She won the Bank of Hope Founders Cup last month in her second after missing seven months with a back injury.

    Park last lost the No. 1 ranking in October of 2015, doing so to Lydia Ko.

    In six starts this year, Park has finished T-3 or better four times. She leads the tour in scoring average (69.13) and is second in greens in regulation (77.5 percent).

    Just wait until her putter heats up.

    Yeah, Park’s not very satisfied with her putting. She’s one of the greatest putters who ever played the women’s game, but she has been frustrated with the inconsistency of her stroke much of this season. Of course, her standards are high. She ranks second in putts per greens in regulation so far this year.

    On Sunday, this is how Park summed up her putting in 2018: “Some days, I’ve been really good. Some days, I’ve been really bad.”

    Park has led the LPGA in putts per GIR in five of the last 10 years. She switched from her preferred mallet-style putter to a blade earlier this season and won with a Toulon Madison blade at the Founders Cup last month. She was back with an Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball mallet this past week. That’s the putter she used to win the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro two years ago. She used an Odyssey Sabertooth winged mallet in her 2013 run of three consecutive major championship victories.