Sunday a quiet day of practice at Augusta National

By Associated PressApril 5, 2009, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. ' Augusta National looked like most other private clubs on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
But most clubs dont get this kind of star power.
Tiger Woods, sporting a goatee, was on the course for the first time since his runner-up finish last year at the Masters, playing nine holes and hitting 3-wood on the 10th hole before walking over to a sandwich stand that catered to players and guests.
Thats right. On the day before practice rounds begin for the seasons first major, guests are allowed to play on the hallowed and supremely manicured grounds of Augusta National.
Strangely enough, members are not allowed to bring a guest on this day. Only former Masters champions have that privilege.
That explains why Mark OMeara was playing with his caddie, why Mike Weir teed off with his brother, and why Bernhard Langer had the ultimate family outing ' he played with his daughter, while son Stefan caddied for him.
Woods played No. 10, then hopped over to the 18th and called it a day.
He has not won the Masters since 2005, and while that might not seem like an eternity to players like Greg Norman and Ernie Els ' who have never won at Augusta National ' if the worlds No. 1 fails to win this week, it will be the longest he has gone without wearing a green jacket anywhere but the Champions Dinner.
Woods is coming off a victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and again is a strong favorite at the Masters.
But he has company in that category.
Phil Mickelson missed the cut in the wind-blown Shell Houston Open, which may have been just as well. He got in a few days of competition and arrived at the Masters a day earlier than expected, allowing him to play nine holes in the group behind Woods. Mickelson already has won twice this year, and he can go to No. 1 in the world by winning the Masters.
Geoff Ogilvy also has won twice this year, while Padraig Harrington will try to join Woods and Ben Hogan as the only players to win three straight majors in the modern era.
Who doesnt have a chance this week?
Look no further than a couple of Masters champions who also played Sunday on a calm, cloudy afternoon ' Charles Coody and Tommy Aaron. They won their green jackets before half of the field was even born.
And by the sound of it, Alvaro Quiros doesnt like his chances, either.
But give the personable Spaniard some time. He had never even seen Augusta National ' in person or on television ' until he arrived Sunday and played nine holes with Luke Donald.
Quiros, whose reputation as a big hitter is growing quickly, is the son of a gardener from the famed Costa Del Sol just down the road from Valderrama. They didnt have enough money to pay for the satellite feed required to watch the Masters, so his only visual of the Augusta National came from a DVD on Seve Ballesteros. Those highlights only featured the 15th, 16th and 18th holes.
Quiros had just settled into a patio chair to order lunch when Donald mentioned that the Spaniard hit wedge into the 445-yard first hole, with the first 300 yards uphill.
So what did he think of the front nine?
Too much, Quiros said. Some of the shots? Impossible.
Donald grinned, having been there before. The Englishman has moderate length, at best, yet tied for third in 2005. Quiros needs a crash course on Augusta National, and he plans to play Monday with two-time winner Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Quiros also needs experience ordering food.
Are the salads big? he asked. The waiter concurred, and Quiros settled on a Caesar chicken salad.
But he wasnt finished.
I have to asked another question. What about the all-beef hot dog? Is that big? he said. And when the waiter gave that a thumbs-up, Quiros ordered them both.
Lunch at Augusta National, much like the atmosphere on Sunday, felt like a picnic. Y.E. Yang sat down with his family, while British Amateur Reinier Saxton finished lunch and joined U.S. Amateur champion Danny Lee on the putting green.
Another newcomer to the Masters was Soren Kjeldsen, who prepared to play a practice round by himself. When he arrived on the tee, someone else was ready to tee off, so brief introductions were in order.
Hi, Ray Floyd, said the two-time Masters champion. Would you mind if my son and I joined you?
Kjeldsen removed his hat to shake hands and smiled.
Odds are, the Dane was not aware of this Masters tradition, that on the Sunday before one of the biggest tournaments in golf, a past champion could play with his son. Stranger still must have been what he saw next.
Floyd and his son were riding in a cart.

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    Rose (64) peaking just ahead of the U.S. Open

    By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:40 pm

    A former U.S. Open champion appears to be finding his form just three weeks ahead of the year's second major.

    Justin Rose ascended to the top of the leaderboard Friday at the Fort Worth Invitational, with rounds of 66-64 pushing him to 10 under par for the week.

    Through 36 at Colonial, Rose has marked 12 birdies against just two bogeys.

    "Yeah, I did a lot of good things today," Rose said. "I think, you know, the end of my round got a little scrappy, but until the last three holes it was pretty flawless. I think I hit every fairway pretty much and obviously every green to that point. ...

    "Yeah, the way I played through, I guess through my first 15 holes today, was about as good as I've played in a long time."

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    Rose won in back-to-back weeks last fall, stunning Dustin Johnson at the WGC-HSBC Championship and riding that victory right into another at the Turkish Airlines Open.

    Now the 2013 U.S. Open winner at Merion feels himself once again rounding into form ahead of this year's Open at Shinnecock. A final-round 66 at The Players gave Rose something to focus on in his recent practice sessions with swing coach Sean Foley, as the two work to shore up the timing of Rose's transition into the downswing.

    As for his decision to tee it up at Colonial for the first time since 2010, "It was more the run of form really," Rose explained. "I feel like if I didn't play here it was going to be a little spotty going into the U.S. Open. I felt like I wanted to play enough golf where I would have a good read on my game going into Shinnecock.

    "So rather than the venue it was more the timing, but it's obviously it's just such a bonus to be on a great layout like this."

    For whatever reason, Rose does tend to play his best golf at iconic venues, having won PGA Tour events at Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional.

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    Koepka (63): Two wrist dislocations in two months

    By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:19 pm

    Brook Koepka's journey back from a wrist injury that kept him out four months hasn't been totally smooth sailing, even if his play has suggested otherwise.

    Koepka on Friday fired a 7-under 63 to move up the leaderboard into a tie for third, three shots behind leader Justin Rose through the end of the morning wave at the Fort Worth Invitational.

    After a slow start Thursday saw him play his first 13 holes 3 over, Koepka is 10 under with 11 birdies in his last 23 holes at Colonial.

    "It doesn't matter to me. I could care less. I'm still going to try as hard as I can," Koepka said. "I don't care how many over or how many under I am. Still going to fight through it."

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    Just like he's been fighting his wrist the last two months or so. Koepka reinjured his wrist the Wednesday of The Players when he was practicing on the range and had to halt mid-swing after a golf cart drove in front of him. He nonetheless managed to finish T-11.

    And that's not the only issue he's had with that wrist during his return.

    "We had a bone pop out of place. I didn't tell anybody, but, yeah, they popped it back in," Koepka admitted Friday. "Luckily enough we kind of popped it back into place right away so it wasn't stiff and I didn't have too, too many problems.

    "Yeah. I mean, I've dislocated my wrist twice in the last two months. You know, different spots, but, I mean, it's fun. I'll be all right."

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    Twitter spat turns into fundraising opportunity

    By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 6:30 pm

    Country music star Jake Owen, along with Brandt Snedeker, has turned a spat on Twitter into a fundraising campaign that will support Snedeker’s foundation.

    On Thursday, Owen was criticized during the opening round of the Tour’s Nashville Golf Open, which benefits the Snedeker Foundation, for his poor play after opening with an 86.

    In response, Snedeker and country singer Chris Young pledged $5,000 for every birdie that Owen makes on Friday in a campaign called NGO Birdies for Kids

    Although Owen, who is playing the event on a sponsor exemption, doesn’t tee off for Round 2 in Nashville until 2 p.m. (CT), the campaign has already generated interest, with NBC Sports/Golf Channel analyst Peter Jacobsen along with Tour player Zac Blair both pledging $100 for every birdie Owen makes.

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    Noren so impressed by Rory: 'I'm about to quit golf'

    By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 5:33 pm

    Alex Noren won the BMW PGA Championship last year, one of his nine career European Tour victories.

    He opened his title defense at Wentworth Club in 68-69 and is tied for fourth through two rounds. Unfortunately, he's five back of leader Rory McIlroy. And after playing the first two days alongside McIlroy, Noren, currently ranked 19th in the world, doesn't seem to like his chances of back-to-back wins.

    McIlroy opened in 67 and then shot a bogey-free 65 in second round, which included pars on the pair of par-5 finishing holes. Noren walked away left in awe.

    "That's the best round I've ever seen," Noren said. "I'm about to quit golf, I think."

    Check out the full interview below: