The Sunday Before the Augusta Storm

By Associated PressApril 7, 2003, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Peter Lonard was among the early arrivals Sunday at the Masters, and he was surprised by what he saw.
 
It wasn't the two men selling ``I Support Hootie'' buttons on a street corner outside Augusta National Golf Club, or the three dozen people who gathered downtown to support the ``Women Against Martha Burk'' campaign.
 
Lonard was trying to figure out why so many people he didn't know were playing golf on a course that was four days away from hosting the first major championship of the year.
 
``I thought the course would be empty, maybe a couple of pros fluttering around and that would be it,'' Lonard said. ``That was quite a shock to the system.''
 
Sunday before the Masters is one of the busiest days of the season at Augusta National. Members and their guests -- which included five women in the span of an hour -- teed off in rapid succession once the rain stopped.
 
That meant Lonard, Scott Verplank, Shigeki Maruyama and the other 50 players who registered had to check with the starter and wait their turn.
 
Lonard didn't mind. The 34-year-old Aussie, who qualified for the Masters by winning in Australia late last year, got nervous just driving down Magnolia Lane.
 
``It's awesome, isn't it,'' he said from the putting greens, gazing across the lush, green fairways lined by towering Georgia pines. ``It's got a presence about it.''
 
This year's Masters is expected to have an added presence because of Augusta National's all-male membership.
 
It started last summer when Burk and her National Council of Women's Organizations urged club chairman Hootie Johnson to admit a female member so it didn't become an issue when the Masters was played.
 
Nine months later, it has become an issue.
 
The Richmond County Sheriff's Office has approved permits for the nine groups who plan to protest during the Masters.
 
That didn't include Vincent Vaughan and Tim Taylor, who received a permit to sell merchandise in a small tent on the corner of Washington and Berckmans Roads -- buttons that say ``I Support Hootie'' and cost $5. Even though Masters week doesn't start until Monday, business was brisk.
 
``This ain't about Martha,'' Vaughan said. ``It's all about supporting the golf tournament and what a great tournament this is.''
 
The other protests are not scheduled to begin until Thursday, and their demonstrations should cover just about everything.
 
Burk and the Rev. Jesse Jackson plan to demonstrate against the all-male membership. Burk wants to protest outside the gates, but officials said that would cause safety problems, and they approved a 5.1-acre site a half-mile away. The location is pending in court.
 
Two groups have received permits to protest against Burk. Another group plans to protest against Jackson. A one-man faction of the Ku Klux Klan, who lists Tiger Woods as his favorite golfer, supports Augusta National's rights to a private membership.
 
Another man wants to demonstrate in support of President Bush's war policy.
 
Augusta caddiesEpitomizing the circuslike atmosphere, the ninth protest permit went to Deke Wiggins and his ``People Against Ridiculous Protests.''
 
Those protests will start as early as Thursday, with most of the activity -- including Burk and Jackson -- scheduled for one-day demonstrations on Saturday.
 
Inside the gates, not much changed.
 
Caddies were dressed in the traditional white coveralls. Members who didn't play wore their green jackets. Johnson was spotted taking a quiet walk with his wife.
 
It still was enough to make Lonard catch his breath as he walked onto the golf course for the first time. He has never been to a tournament so early, but he made an exception for the Masters.
 
``I wanted to get here before all the hoopla,'' he said.
 
Related Links:
  • Augusta, Ga., Weather
  • 2003 Masters Tournament Mini-Site
  • Tournament Coverage
  • The Augusta National Membership Debate: A Chronology
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    U.S. Amateur playoff: 24 players for 1 spot in match play

    By Associated PressAugust 15, 2018, 1:21 pm

    PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer and Daniel Hillier were tied at the top after two rounds of the U.S. Amateur, but the more compelling action on Tuesday was further down the leaderboard.

    Two dozen players were tied for 64th place after two rounds of stroke play at Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill. With the top 64 advancing to match play, that means all 24 will compete in a sudden-death playoff Wednesday morning for the last spot in the knockout rounds.


    U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos


    They'll be divided into six foursomes and start the playoff at 7:30 a.m. on the par-3 17th at Pebble Beach, where Tom Watson chipped in during the 1982 U.S. Open and went on to win.

    The survivor of the playoff will face the 19-year-old Hillier in match play. The New Zealander shot a 2-under 70 at Spyglass Hill to share medalist honors with the 18-year-old Hammer at 6 under. Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas who played in the 2015 U.S. Open at age 15, shot 68 at Spyglass Hill.

    Stewart Hagestad had the low round of the day, a 5-under 66 at Pebble Beach, to move into a tie for 10th after opening with a 76 at Spyglass Hill. The 27-year-old Hagestad won the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur and earned low amateur honors at the 2017 Masters.

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    Hammer in position (again) to co-medal at U.S. Am

    By Ryan LavnerAugust 14, 2018, 10:37 pm

    PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer is in position to go for a rare sweep in this summer’s biggest events.

    Two weeks ago, Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas, was the co-medalist at the Western Amateur and went on to take the match-play portion, as well.

    Here at the U.S. Amateur, Hammer shot rounds of 69-68 and was once again in position to earn co-medalist honors. At 6-under 137, he was tied with 19-year-old Daniel Hillier of New Zealand.

    “It would mean a lot, especially after being medalist at the Western Am,” Hammer said afterward. “It’s pretty special.”

    No stroke-play medalist has prevailed in the 64-man match-play bracket since Ryan Moore in 2004. Before that, Tiger Woods (1996) was the most recent medalist champion.  


    U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos


    On the strength of his Western Am title, Hammer, 18, has soared to No. 18 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He credited his work with swing coach Cameron McCormick and mental coach Bob Rotella.

    “Just really started controlling my iron shots really well,” said Hammer, who has worked with McCormick since 2015, when he qualified for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as a 15-year-old.

    “Distance control with my wedges and all my iron shots, playing different shots, has become really a strength in my game. I’ve really turned the putter on this year, and I’m seeing the lines and matching the line with the speed really well. I think that’s been the key to my summer.”

    A two-time New Zealand Amateur champion, Hillier is ranked 27th in the world. He said that, entering the tournament, he would have been pleased just to make it to match play.

    “But to come out on top, it’s amazing,” Hillier said. “Cole is a really good golfer and has been playing well lately. So, yeah, I’m in good company.”

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    Tee times, TV schedule, stats for Wyndham Championship

    By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 14, 2018, 9:55 pm

    It's the last tournament of the PGA Tour's regular season as the top 125 in the FedExCup points list advance to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for the Wyndham Championship. (Click here for tee times)

    How to watch:

    Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

    Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.


    Purse: $6 million

    Course: Sedgefield Country Club (par 70, 7,127 yards)

    Defending champion: Henrik Stenson. Last year he defeated Ollie Schniederjans by one stroke to earn his sixth career PGA Tour win.


    Notables in the field

    Henrik Stenson at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

    Henrik Stenson

    • Missed the cut last week at the PGA Championship

    • Six top-10 finishes this year, including T-5 at the Masters and T-6 at the U.S. Open


    Sergio Garcia

    • Eight missed cuts in last 10 PGA Tour starts

    • Currently 131 in FedExCup standings (33 points back of 125th)


    Webb Simpson

    • Five top-10 finishes in this event since 2010 (won in 2011)

    • 56 under par in last five years in this event (best of any player in that span)

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    Faldo: Woods told fellow Masters champ 'I'm done' in '17

    By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 7:42 pm

    Fresh off his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, it's easy to get caught up in the recent success and ebullient optimism surrounding Tiger Woods. But it was not that long ago that Woods even hitting another competitive shot was very much in doubt.

    Six-time major champ Sir Nick Faldo shed light on those darker times during a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show when he relayed a story from the 2017 Masters champions' dinner. The annual meal is one of golf's most exclusive fraternities, as only the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is allowed to dine with the men who have each donned a green jacket.

    Last spring Woods had not yet undergone spinal fusion surgery, and Faldo explained that Woods at one point turned to an unnamed Masters champ and grimly assessed his future playing chances.


    Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    "I know he whispered to another Masters champion, two Masters dinners ago, 'I'm done. I won't play golf again,'" Faldo said. "He said, 'I'm done. I'm done, my back is done.' He was in agony. He was in pain. His leg, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn't move. If you watched footage of him, he couldn't even get in and out of the golf cart at the (2016) Ryder Cup when he was a vice captain."

    But Woods opted for fusion surgery a few weeks later, and after a lengthy rehab process he returned to competition in December. His 2018 campaign has been nothing short of remarkable, with a pair of runner-up finishes to go along with a T-6 result at The Open when he held the outright lead on the back nine on Sunday.

    After apparently even counting himself out, Woods is back up to 26th in the latest world rankings and appears in line to be added as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup next month.

    "What he's been able to do is unbelievable," Faldo said. "To turn this aruond, to get this spine fusion, it's completely taken away the pain. To have this mobility is absolutely amazing. Great on him, and great for golf."