Notes Kinder Gentler Fourth Hole

By Associated PressApril 7, 2006, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The Masters showed some compassion Friday, moving the tees forward on the 240-yard fourth hole to the same location members use. It measured about 180 yards, and most players were hitting 5- and 6-irons instead of fairway metals.
 
Then again, the pin was back and to the right.
 
'Surprisingly, should I say, easy,' Ernie Els said with a laugh. 'The flag was top right. I saw the flags this morning before I went out, and I was praying that they had the tees up. It was up. I hit 7-iron in there, so it was fine.'
 
It still was no picnic.
 
Vijay Singh was leading the tournament when he hit a 6-iron that he thought was perfect, just right of the flag. But it was a tad too strong, hopped hard off the slope behind the green and went into the bushes, leading to double bogey.
 
And there was the wind.
 
Robert Allenby hit 6-iron over the green and into the bushes to make bogey. Tiger Woods hits his irons about the same distance, so he picked a 6-iron and came up short into the bunker, also making bogey.
 
Imagine trying to guess which club to hit -- and how far it would go -- with a 5-wood.
 
'To that pin with the wind conditions today, it would have been just brutal to figure out what club to hit,' Woods said.
 
The hole played easier than the first round, when the pin was back left and the hole played 248 yards. The average score Friday was 3.1, compared with 3.25 the first round. There were 12 birdies Friday, only four birdies Thursday.
 
COODY FAREWELL
Charles Coody went out on his own terms, and did he ever go out in style.
 
Coody, who held off Jack Nicklaus to win the 1971 Masters, decided when he arrived at Augusta National that this would be his final Masters. And when he opened with an 89 -- his worst round ever -- it looked as if he couldn't get out of town soon enough.
 
'Yesterday I played poorly,' Coody said. 'And today I played well.'
 
The 68-year-old Texan played so well that his 2-over 74 was his best score since 2000. And he didn't even finish last, beating 26-year-old Charles Howell III by one shot.
 
Coody finished with a 15-foot par save on the 18th hole.
 
'I'd like to be remembered as a nice guy and a fairly decent player,' Coody said. 'I know I'm not a Hall of Fame golfer. But nice guy and good family man, that would be good enough for me. And a halfway decent golfer.'
 
He actually was 1 under through the par-5 15th, but a bogey at 16 and double-bogey at 17 ruined his improbable bid to go out with a round in the red.
 
'I have a lot of respect for the tournament,' he said. 'That's one of the reasons I won't play anymore. I don't want to embarrass the tournament.'
 
BIG NUMBERS
Chris DiMarco holed out from the 18th fairway for eagle, Rory Sabbatini made eagle from the 11th fairway and Brandt Jobe made a 6-iron from the 10th fairway.
 
But for all those spectacular shots came some equally spectacular numbers.
 
David Duval made a 10 on the par-5 second hole, hitting into the woods three times, and one time hitting a stubby hazard stake he didn't even see. He hit everything but the fairway, matching Sam Byrd in 1948 for the highest score ever made on No. 2.
 
Jim Furyk was moving into contention until an 8 on the par-5 13th. Vijay Singh had just about every number covered during his strange round of 74 -- a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and a 7.
 
Perhaps the most embarrassing was Charles Howell III, who couldn't escape the back bunker on No. 11 and took 9 on his way to an 84, leaving him last among the 90 players at the Masters.
 
BACK FROM HOLIDAY
Darren Clarke walked off the first green Thursday and said with a smile and between puffs on his cigar, 'I'm still on holiday.'
 
Clarke was a late arrival for the Masters, and that was by design.
 
After The Players Championship, he went on vacation to Grand Abaco in the Bahamas, where he spent time with his cancer-stricken wife, Heather, and friends. Most of that time was spent bone fishing, although Clarke promised there would be a beer or three.
 
After a 2-under 70 on Friday that left him in a tie for fifth, he was asked about his game.
 
'Maybe it's got something to do with Abaco, where I was last week,' he said. 'I've forgotten what I should be doing and just gone out and hit it. And it's working.'
 
Clarke's wife first was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago, although it now has spread throughout her body. It has given Clarke a new perspective about his career, and it showed when someone mentioned how relaxed he was.
 
'I'm hitting it nicely and I'll try to keep it going,' Clarke said. 'There are a lot of people who want to win this a lot more than I do. I would love to do it myself, but it's not that important.'
 
PERFECT PRESENTATION
At the Masters, they want everything just right.
 
Everything.
 
Joe Damiano, the caddie for Stuart Appleby, raked the front bunker on the par-3 12th hole and placed it where he found it, to the left of the trap. As the group left the green, an official emerged from the azaleas and straightened the rake so that it lay parallel to the bunker, instead of the 45-degree angle which Damiano left it.
 
About 30 minutes later, Sergio Garcia's caddie left the rake directly in front of the bunker -- shame on him. The official returned and neatly put it back in its spot.
 
THE HIGHS AND LOWS
Brandt Jobe got the best and worst of Augusta National on the back nine Friday.
 
Jobe made only the seventh eagle in Masters history on the par-4 10th hole, a 6-iron from 202 yards that he feared was headed for the bunker, but turned just enough to disappear into the cup.
 
'It's my first crystal,' said Jobe, noting that Augusta National awards crystal goblets for every eagle. 'When it went in, I about jumped up and down. It startled me.'
 
So did the par-5 15th, although that startled him for different reasons.
 
Jobe went over the green, then chipped down the slope and into the water on his way to a triple-bogey 8. He wound up with a 76 and was at 4-over 148, giving him two more days of this roller coaster.
 
DIVOTS
Nick O'Hern of Australia has his own cheering section this week. His father, Mel, is at Augusta National. It's his first trip to the United States. ... Chris DiMarco has missed the cut in his last two majors. ... While Charles Coody had the best turnaround by going 89-74, Mark Hensby's improvement meant more. He opened with an 80 and followed with a 67 to make the cut by one shot. ... Mike Weir and Arron Oberholser will be paired together for the first time since the final round at Pebble Beach, when they were tied for the lead. Oberholser shot 72 to win his first PGA Tour event, while Weir shot 78. Also paired together are Vijay Singh and Fred Couples, a rematch of sorts from the Presidents Cup, when Couples beat him on the 18th hole.
 
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    Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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    Putting prepared Park's path back to No. 1

    By Randall MellApril 26, 2018, 12:13 am

    Inbee Park brings more than her unshakably tranquil demeanor back to the top of the Rolex Women’s World Rankings this week.

    She brings more than her Olympic gold medal and seven major championships to the Mediheal Championship on the outskirts of San Francisco.

    She brings a jarring combination of gentleness and ruthlessness back to the top of the rankings.

    Park may look as if she could play the role of Mother Teresa on some goodwill tour, but that isn’t what her opponents see when she’s wielding her Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball mallet.

    She’s like Mother Teresa with Lizzy Borden’s axe.

    When Park gets on one of her rolls with the putter, she scares the hell out of the rest of the tour.

    At her best, Park is the most intimidating player in women’s golf today.

    “Inbee makes more 20- and 30-footers on a regular basis than anyone I know,” seven-time major championship winner Karrie Webb said.

    All those long putts Park can hole give her an aura more formidable than any power player in the women’s game.

    “A good putter is more intimidating than someone who knocks it out there 280 yards,” Webb said “Even if Inbee misses a green, you know she can hole a putt from anywhere. It puts more pressure on your putter knowing you’re playing with someone who is probably going to make them all.”

    Park, by the way, said Webb and Ai Miyazato were huge influences on her putting. She studied them when she was coming up on tour.

    Webb, though, believes there’s something internal separating Park. It isn’t just Park’s ability to hole putts that makes her so intimidating. It’s the way she carries herself on the greens.

    “She never gets ruffled,” Webb said. “She says she gets nervous, but you never see a change in her. If you’re going toe to toe with her, that’s what is intimidating. Even if you’re rolling in putts on top of her, it doesn’t seem to bother her. She’s definitely a player you have to try not to pay attention to when you’re paired with her, because you can get caught up in that.”


    Full-field scores from the LPGA Mediheal Championship


    Park has led the LPGA in putts per greens in regulation five of the last 10 years.

    Brad Beecher has been on Park’s bag for more than a decade, back before she won her first major, the 2008 U.S. Women’s Open. He has witnessed the effect Park can have on players when she starts rolling in one long putt after another.

    “You have those times when she’ll hole a couple long putts early, and you just know, it’s going to be one of those days,” Beecher said. “Players look at me like, `Does she ever miss?’ or `How am I going to beat this?’ You see players in awe of it sometimes.”

    Park, 29, won in her second start of 2018, after taking seven months off with a back injury. In six starts this year, she has a victory, two ties for second-place and a tie for third. She ended Shanshan Feng’s 23-week run at No. 1 with a tie for second at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open last weekend.

    What ought to disturb fellow tour pros is that Park believes her ball striking has been carrying her this year. She’s still waiting for her putter to heat up. She is frustrated with her flat stick, even though she ranks second in putts per greens in regulation this season.

    “Inbee Park is one of the best putters ever,” said LPGA Hall of Famer Sandra Haynie, a 42-time LPGA winner. “She’s dangerous on the greens.”

    Haynie said she would rank Park with Kathy Whitworth, Mickey Wright and Nancy Lopez as the best putters she ever saw.

    Hall of Famer Joanne Carner says Park is the best putter she has seen since Lopez.

    “I thought Nancy was a great putter,” Carner said. “Inbee is even better.”

    Park uses a left-hand low grip, with a mostly shoulder move and quiet hands.

    Lopez used a conventional grip, interlocking, with her right index finger down the shaft. She had a more handsy stroke than Park.

    Like Lopez, Park prefers a mallet-style putter, and she doesn’t switch putters much. She is currently playing with an Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball putter. She won the gold medal with it two years ago. She used an Oddysey White Ice Sabertooth winged mallet when she won three majors in a row in 2013.

    Lopez hit the LPGA as a rookie in 1978 with a Ray Cook M1 mallet putter and used it for 20 years. It’s in the World Golf Hall of Fame today.

    “I watch Inbee, and I think, `Wow, that’s how I used to putt,’” Lopez said. “You can see she’s not mechanical at all. So many players today are mechanical. They forget if you just look at the hole and stroke it, you’re going to make more putts.”

    Notably, Park has never had a putting coach, not really. Her husband and swing coach, Gi Hyeob Nam, will look at her stroke when she asks for help.

    “When I’m putting, I’m concentrating on the read and mostly my speed,” Park said. “I don’t think mechanically about my stroke at all, unless I think there’s something wrong with it, and then I’ll have my husband take a look. But, really, I rely on my feel. I don’t think about my stroke when I’m out there playing.”

    Hall of Famer Judy Rankin says Park’s remarkably consistent speed is a key to her putting.

    “Inbee is definitely a feel putter, and her speed is so consistent, all the time,” Rankin said. “You have to assume she’s a great green reader.”

    Beecher says Park’s ability to read greens is a gift. She doesn’t rely on him for that. She reads greens herself.

    “I think what impresses me most is Inbee has a natural stroke,” Beecher said. “There’s nothing too technical. It’s more straight through and straight back, but I think the key element of the stroke is that she keeps the putter so close to the ground, all the time, on the takeaway and the follow-through. It helps with the roll and with consistency.”

    Park said that’s one of her fundamentals.

    “I keep it low, almost like I’m hitting the ground,” Park said. “When I don’t do that, I miss more putts.”

    Beecher believes the real reason Park putts so well is that the putter brought her into the game. It’s how she got started, with her father, Gun Gyu Park, putting the club in her hands as a child. She loved putting on her own.

    “That’s how she fell in love with the game,” Beecher said. “Getting started that way, it’s played a huge role in her career.”

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    Teams announced for NCAA DI women's regionals

    By Golf Channel DigitalApril 25, 2018, 10:50 pm

    Seventy-two teams and an additional 24 individuals were announced Wednesday as being selected to compete in the NCAA Division I women's regionals, May 7-9.

    Each of the four regional sites will consist of 18 teams and an extra six individual players, whose teams were not selected. The low six teams and low three individuals will advance to the NCAA Championship, May 18-23, hosted by Oklahoma State at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

    The four regional sites include Don Veller Seminole Golf Course & Club in Tallahassee, Fla., hosted by Florida State; UT Golf Club in Austin, Texas, hosted by the University of Texas; University Ridge Golf Course in Madison, Wis., hosted by the University of Wisconsin; TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, Calif., hosted by Stanford University.

    Arkansas, Duke, UCLA and Alabama are the top seeds in their respective regionals. Arizona State, the third seed in the Madison regional, is the women's defending champion. Here's a look at the regional breakdown, along with teams and players:

    Austin Regional Madison Regional San Francisco Regional Tallahassee Regional
    Arkansas Duke UCLA Alabama
    Texas USC Stanford Furman
    Michigan State Arizona State South Carolina Arizona
    Florida Northwestern Kent State Washington
    Auburn Illinois Oklahoma State Wake Forest
    Oklahoma Purdue North Carolina Vanderbilt
    Houston Iowa State Colorado Florida State
    Miami (Fla.) Virginia Louisville Clemson
    Baylor Wisconsin N.C. State Georgia
    Texas A&M Campbell Mississippi Tennessee
    BYU Ohio State Cal UNLV
    East Carolina Notre Dame San Diego State Kennesaw State
    Texas Tech Old Dominion Pepperdine Denver
    Virginia Tech Oregon State Oregon Coastal Carolina
    UTSA Idaho Long Beach State Missouri
    Georgetown Murray State Grand Canyon Charleston
    Houston Baptist North Dakota State Princeton Richmond
    Missouri State IUPUI Farleigh Dickinson Albany
           
    Brigitte Dunne (SMU) Connie Jaffrey (Kansas State) Alivia Brown (Washington State) Hee Ying Loy (E. Tennessee State)
    Xiaolin Tian (Maryland) Pinyada Kuvanun (Toledo) Samantha Hutchinson (Cal-Davis) Claudia De Antonio (LSU)
    Greta Bruner (TCU) Pun Chanachai (New Mexico State) Ingrid Gutierrez (New Mexico) Fernanda Lira (Central Arkansas)
    Katrina Prendergast (Colorado State) Elsa Moberly (Eastern Kentucky) Abegail Arevalo (San Jose State) Emma Svensson (Central Arkansas)
    Ellen Secor (Colorado State) Erin Harper (Indiana) Darian Zachek (New Mexico) Valentina Giraldo (Jacksonville State)
    Faith Summers (SMU) Cara Basso (Penn State) Christine Danielsson (Cal-Davis) Kaeli Jones (UCF)
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    Leach on grizzlies, walk-up music and hating golf

    By Golf Channel DigitalApril 25, 2018, 10:47 pm

    He's one of college football's deepest thinkers, and he has no time to waste on a golf course.

    Washington State head football coach Mike Leach created headlines last week when he shared his view that golf is "boring" and should be reserved for those who, unlike him, need practice swearing. The author and coach joined host Will Gray on the latest episode of the Golf Channel podcast to expand on those views - and veer into some unexpected territory.

    Leach shared how his father and brother both got bitten by the golf bug as he grew up, but he steered clear in part because the sport boasts an overly thick rule book:

    "First of all, the other thing I don't like is it's pretentious. There's a lot of rules. Don't do it this way, don't do it that way. You walked between my ball and the hole. This guy has to go first, then you go after he does. I mean, all these rules, I just don't understand."

    Leach also shared his perspective about what fuels the vibrant fashion choices seen on many courses:

    "You can tell there's a subtle, internal rebellion going on with golf, and where that subtle, internal rebellion manifests itself is they really liven up the clothes. I mean, they're beaten down by all the little subtle rules, so they really liven up the clothes. Maybe have knickers, maybe they'll have a floppy hat or something like that."

    Leach on the advice he would sometimes offer when friends explained their rationale for hitting the links: 

    "They say, 'Well I don't go there to golf or go to take it seriously. When I go golf, I just like to have some beers.' And I'm thinking, 'You know there's bars for that? There's bars for that, and at those bars they have, often times, attractive women and music going on?'"

    Leach is heading into his seventh season at Washington State, and he also described a unique hazard that can sometimes pop up at the on-campus course in Pullman, Wash.:

    "In the spring the grizzlies come out, and the grizzly preserve is right across the street from the golf course. So they’ll be out, you’ll see them running around on the hills inside the preserve there. But there is this visual where, all of a sudden you drive up this hill on your golf cart, and you’re at the tee box and you’re getting ready to hit, and on the hill just opposite of you it’s covered with grizzly bears. And as you’re getting ready to hit your ball, it occurs to you that the grizzly bears are going to beat you to your ball."

    Other topics in the wide-ranging discussion included Leach's proposal for a 64-team playoff in NCAA Division I football, his chance encounter with Tiger Woods before a game between the Cougars and Woods' Stanford Cardinal, his preferred walk-up music and plans for "full contact golf."

    Listen to the entire podcast below:

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    Post-Masters blitz 'exhausting' but Reed ready for return

    By Ryan LavnerApril 25, 2018, 8:24 pm

    AVONDALE, La. – After briefly suffering from First-Time Major Winner Fatigue, Patrick Reed is eager to get back inside the ropes this week at the Zurich Classic.

    The media blitz is an eye-opening experience for every new major champ. Reed had been told to expect not to get any sleep for about a week after his win, and sure enough he jetted off to New York City for some sightseeing, photo shoots, baseball games, late-night talk shows, phone calls and basketball games, sitting courtside in the green jacket at Madison Square Garden next to comedian Chris Rock, personality Michael Strahan and rapper 2 Chainz. Then he returned home to Houston, where the members at Carlton Woods hosted a reception in his honor.

    With Reed’s head still spinning, his wife, Justine, spent the better part of the past two weeks responding to each of the 880 emails she received from fans and well-wishers.

    “It’s been a lot more exhausting than I thought it’d be,” he said Wednesday at TPC Louisiana, where he’ll make his first start since the Masters.

    It’s a good problem to have, of course.

    Reed was already planning a family vacation to the Bahamas the week after Augusta, so the media tour just took its place. As many directions as he was pulled, as little sleep as he got, Reed said, “We still had a blast with it.”


    Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, photos and videos


    There are few places better to ease into his new world than at the Zurich, where he’ll partner with Patrick Cantlay for the second year in a row.

    Reed wants to play well, not only for himself but also his teammate. After all, it could be an important week for Cantlay, who is on U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk’s radar after a victory last fall. That didn’t earn him any Ryder Cup points, however – he sits 38th in the standings – so performing well here in fourballs and foursomes could go a long way toward impressing the captain.

    “There’s maybe a little extra if we play well,” Cantlay said, “but I’m just trying to play well every week.” 

    Reed got back to work on his game last Tuesday. He said that he’s prepared, ready to play and looking forward to building off his breakthrough major.

    “A lot of guys have told me to just be careful with your time,” he said. “There will be a lot of things you didn’t have to do or didn’t have in the past that are going to come up.

    “But first things first, you’ve got to go out and grind and play some good golf and focus on golf, because the time you stay and not focus on golf will be the time you go backward. That’s nothing any of us want. We all want to improve and get better.”