Notes Winners Back in Masters

By Associated PressApril 6, 2005, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- For years, a win on the PGA Tour meant a trip to the Masters.
That policy could be making a comeback.
Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson said Wednesday the club may reconsider its qualifying procedures, which removed the automatic invitation for tour winners beginning with the 2000 Masters.
``We will give serious consideration to the possibility of tournament winners receiving an invitation,'' Johnson said during his annual pre-Masters news conference. ``This will probably be a couple of years off.''
Eight Tour winners from the past year didn't qualify for the Masters: Joey Sindelar, Jonathan Byrd, Vaughn Taylor, Woody Austin, Bart Bryant, Brent Geiberger, Andre Stolz and Heath Slocum.
Since the change was made -- giving more weight to yearlong performance through the world rankings and PGA Tour money list -- the number of non-American players has risen dramatically.
In 1999, there were 29 foreign-born players in the 96-player field for the last Masters that included Tour winners. This year, it's 44 out of 93 -- a nearly 52 percent increase.
But Augusta National has always striven for a worldwide feel to its signature event, so there's no concern about having nearly half the field comprised of non-American players.
``The fact that international players have qualified in great numbers would not be a factor in re-evaluating our qualifications,'' Johnson said.
On a related note, Johnson conceded that broadcast ratings in Japan were a factor in the club's decisions to extend a special invitation to Shingo Katayama, who will be playing his fourth Masters in five years.
Not so for Scotland's Colin Montgomerie, whose streak of 13 straight Augusta appearances ends this year -- even though he was a star on Europe's Ryder Cup team last fall and showed his affinity for the Masters by traveling to China and Indonesia in a last-ditch attempt to qualify.
``Colin will be back in the Masters tournament one way or another, surely,'' Johnson said. But ``for a golfer like Colin to come real close, then we give him an invitation, that's not something we would want to do.''
Katayama, known for his cowboy hat and effusive personality, has 16 wins on the Japan PGA Tour. He became a bit of a cult figure in this country with his fourth-place finish at the 2001 PGA Championship.
Listening to Johnson, the Masters invitation seemed to have more to do with Katayama's homeland than his performance.
``We have a long relationship with Japan,'' Johnson said. ``They have been the most populous golfing nation for many years. We do have a big broadcast over there, and that does influence us.''
That's a change from last year, when China's Zhang Lian-Wei received a special invitation but Johnson insisted it had nothing to do with promoting the Masters in the world's most populous nation.
The ``Par-3 Jinx'' is assured of lasting another year.
Jerry Pate won the par-3 contest Wednesday at 5 under par, the highlight of an always-entertaining event that featured holes-in-one by Ben Crenshaw, Raymond Floyd and amateur Luke List.
Pate, the 1976 U.S. Open champion, took part in the event as one of the non-competing invitees to the Masters. Anyone who has won a U.S. Open, British Open, PGA Championship, U.S. Amateur or British Amateur can attend the Masters, play practice rounds and take part in the lighthearted tournament held on the club's nine-hole, par-3 course.
The par-3 winner has never gone on to win the Masters -- and he won't this year, either.
Crenshaw had his hole-in-one at the 70-yard second, while List aced the 115-yard seventh and Floyd knocked in his tee shot on the 135-yard ninth.
``I hit it real close, about a foot past, and it spun back in,'' Floyd said. ``It was a real nice way to finish the day.''
Crenshaw finished one stroke behind Pate.
Mr. Palmer, the Masters is holding your tee time.
For the third year in a row, the tournament will begin without an honorary starter, a position that Augusta National is holding open for four-time winner Arnold Palmer.
Palmer played in his 50th -- and final -- Masters last year. He has left open the possibility of starting the tournament with an honorary tee shot, but he's not quite ready to take on the ceremonial duties.
``We are going to hold that position until Arnold is ready to go,'' Masters chairman Hootie Johnson said Wednesday. ``I hope it won't be too long.''
Masters chairman Hootie Johnson quickly shut down any debate about Augusta National bringing in its first female member.
When a reporter tried to bring up the issue Wednesday, Johnson replied, ``We've adopted a new policy. We don't talk about club matters, period.''
The issue created a storm of controversy in 2003, when protesters led by Martha Burk converged on Augusta to demand that women be admitted as members.
Johnson refused to budge on the private club's all-male membership, even going to a commercial-free telecast so sponsors wouldn't be subject to protests or boycotts.
Burk's protest near the club drew only a few dozen people, and the Masters feels confident enough in its position to restore commercials on this year's telecast.
Tiger Woods and Ernie Els both have a chance to take the world's No. 1 ranking this week. Woods would vault to the top spot if he wins, no matter where Els and current No. 1 Vijay Singh finish. Depending on where the other two finish, Woods could reclaim the top of the rankings with a finish as low as fifth. For Els to become No. 1, the South African must win with Singh lower than tied for third and Woods lower than tied for second.
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    Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

    By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

    MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

    Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

    Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

    The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

    On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

    Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

    He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

    In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

    Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

    Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

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    Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

    By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

    In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

    Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

    This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

    Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

    Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

    The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

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    Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

    Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

    Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    “Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

    Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

    “There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

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    Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

    By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

    Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

    Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

    Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

    “Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

    Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

    “Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

    Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.