Augusta National founders deserve closer look

By Brandel ChambleeMarch 22, 2014, 12:00 pm

The program for the first Augusta National Invitational Tournament in 1934 included a page with pictures of 12 men who were designated as “Some of The Members of Augusta National Golf Club.” They were: Jay R. Monroe, Alfred Severin Bourne, W. Alton Jones, Thomas Barrett Jr., Fielding Wallace, Walton H. Marshal, John W. Harris, Richard C. Patterson Jr., M. H. Aylesworth, Grantland Rice, Clifford Roberts and Robert Tyre Jones Jr. All but two looked grim. W. Alton Jones had a hint of a smile and Robert Tyre Jones Jr., tanned and handsome, beamed. They were the only two without jackets. Robert, or Bob, as he was known in the diminutive (he preferred that to Bobby), was the only one without a tie. 

Some through inheritance, most through their own initiative, these men were colossally successful. Given the acquired suspicion and stigmatized view of high achievement today, it is worth pointing out that of all the factors that lead to success in a free-market economy, character is not the exception but the rule. And with the Masters less than a month away, this is an appropriate opportunity to take a closer look at some of the men responsible for giving golf its greatest event. 

W. Alton Jones (no relation to Bob) was born into a poor family in Missouri and rose to become president of what is now Citgo. He also contributed significantly to U.S. production for World War II, building a secret dynamite plant, an aviation fuel refinery and 3,000 miles of pipeline to deliver that fuel from Texas to the East Coast. Friends with Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jones was on his way to fish with the former President when he was killed in an American Airlines plane crash in New York City on March 1, 1962.


Jay R. Monroe helped develop the first commercial calculator and established the Monroe Calculating Machine Co. in 1912. Merlin H. Aylesworth was the first president of NBC, the oldest broadcasting network in the United States. Alfred Severin Bourne, whose father was president of the Singer Sewing Machine Co., wrote a check for $25,000 (during the Depression, no less) to help start the club. 

Grantland Rice was a sports writer who made heroes of athletes with his elegant prose. He is best known for dubbing the backfield of the 1924 Notre Dame football team the “Four Horsemen,” a biblical reference to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse that is the most famous sports passage ever written. In his New York Herald Tribune article about the Notre Dame-Army game at the Polo Grounds, Rice began:

“Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore they are known as Famine, Pestilence, Destruction and Death. These are only aliases. Their real names are Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden. They formed the crest of the South Bend cyclone before which another fighting Army football team was swept over the precipice at the Polo Grounds this afternoon as 55,000 spectators peered down on the bewildering panorama spread out upon the green plain below.” 

Who writes like that today? 

In 1935, when Gene Sarazen made a double eagle on the 15th hole during the last round of the Augusta National Invitational (it wouldn’t be called the Masters until 1939) and then beat Craig Wood the next day in a 36-hole playoff, it was Rice who branded the moment as “The shot heard ’round the world.” Litera scripta manet


Clifford Roberts left school after the ninth grade, but as an investment banker made his way to Wall Street, where success put him in the company of great men. He was the first chairman of Augusta National (1931-1976) and had a restless discontent with the status quo of tournament golf. He conceived of the over- and under-par scoring system that we still use today. It was his ideas that led to free parking and pairing sheets, observation stands and roped-off fairways and greens. Those were ideas which accommodated needs that neither players nor patrons had yet thought of. When asked what made the Masters, Roberts was quick to deflect credit. “Bob Jones, of course,” he said. “His presence. Then the double eagle.” 

Bob Jones earned a mechanical engineering degree at Georgia Tech in 1922, a bachelor of arts degree in English literature from Harvard College in 1924, then passed the bar in 1926 after only three semesters at Emory School of Law. He won seven opens and six amateur major championships by the age of 28. In 1930 he won two of each in a feat of such deep-water greatness it was beyond the grasp of almost everyone to understand, let alone name (with apologies to George Trevor, who came up with “the Impregnable Quadrilateral,” and O.B. Keeler, who dubbed it a “Grand Slam”). 

The degrees and championships were the product of a man fizzing with moxie and intelligence, but years later, when the moss was creeping up once-heroic limbs, it was tales of Jones’ sportsmanship and sense of fair play that preceded him. 

President Eisenhower once said of Jones, “Those who have been fortunate enough to know him realize that his fame as a golfer is transcended by his inestimable qualities as a human being.” 

Bob Jones knew sport was about more than winning. He knew also that it was more than entertainment, that at its best it also plays a role in communicating values. 

The idea for Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters began with Jones, but long after he retired, it was the men listed here and scores of others like them, men of immeasurable abilities and ambition who kept alive, in this course and in this tournament, the promise of his genius.

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Stunner: Inbee Park steps aside for Int. Crown

By Randall MellJuly 17, 2018, 4:00 pm

There was a big surprise this week when the LPGA announced the finalized lineups for the UL International Crown.

Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park won’t be teeing it up for the host South Koreans Oct. 4-7 in Incheon.

She has withdrawn, saying she wanted another Korean to be able to experience the thrill of representing her country.

It’s a stunner given the importance the LPGA has placed on taking the UL International Crown to South Korea and its golf-crazy allegiance to the women’s game in the Crown’s first staging outside the United States.

Two-time major champion In Gee Chun will replace Park.

"It was my pleasure and honor to participate in the first UL International Crown in 2014 and at the 2016 Olympics, and I cannot describe in one word how amazing the atmosphere was to compete as a representative of my country,” Park said. “There are so many gifted and talented players in Korea, and I thought it would be great if one of the other players was given the chance to experience the 2018 UL International Crown.”

Chun, another immensely popular player in South Korea, was the third alternate, so to speak, with the world rankings used to field teams. Hye Jin Choi and Jin Young Ko were higher ranked than Chun but passed because of commitments made to competing in a Korean LPGA major that week. The other South Koreans who previously qualified are So Yeon Ryu, Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim.

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Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'

By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 3:35 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following his victory two weeks ago at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, Kevin Na said his second triumph on the PGA Tour was the most rewarding of his career.

Although he declined to go into details as to why the victory was so gratifying at The Greenbrier, as he completed his practice round on Tuesday at the Open Championship, Na shed some light on how difficult the last few years have been.

“I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, 'I can’t take the club back,'” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, 'He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.' I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Na, who made headlines for his struggles to begin his backswing when he found himself in the lead at the 2012 Players Championship, said he asked other players who had gone through similar bouts with the game’s most dreaded ailment how they were able to get through it.

“It took time,” he said. “I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy.”

The payoff, however, has steadily arrived this season. Na said he’d been confident with his game this season following a runner-up showing at the Genesis Open and a fourth-place finish at the Fort Worth Invitational, and he felt he was close to a breakthrough. But being able to finish a tournament like he did at The Greenbrier, where he won by five strokes, was particularly rewarding.

“All good now,” he smiled. “I knew I was good enough to win again, but until you do it sometimes you question yourself. It’s just the honest truth.”

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Koepka still has chip on his chiseled shoulder

By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 3:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brooks Koepka prepared more for this Open than last year's.

He picked up his clubs three times.

That’s three more than last summer, when the only shots he hit between the summer Opens was during a commercial shoot for Michelob Ultra at TPC Sawgrass. He still tied for sixth at The Open a month later.

This time, Koepka kept his commitment to play the Travelers, then hit balls three times between the final round in Hartford and this past Sunday, when he first arrived here at Carnoustie.

Not that he was concerned, of course.

Koepka’s been playing golf for nearly 20 years. He wasn’t about to forget to how to swing a club after a few weeks off.

“It was pretty much the same thing,” he said Tuesday, during his pre-tournament news conference. “I shared it with one of my best friends, my family, and it was pretty much the same routine. It was fun. We enjoyed it. But I’m excited to get back inside the ropes and start playing again. I think you need to enjoy it any time you win and really embrace it and think about what you’ve done.”

At Shinnecock Hills, Koepka became the first player in nearly 30 years to repeat as U.S. Open champion – a major title that helped him shed his undeserved reputation as just another 20-something talent who relies solely on his awesome power. In fact, he takes immense pride in his improved short game and putting inside 8 feet.

“I can take advantage of long golf courses,” he said, “but I enjoy plotting my way around probably - more than the bombers’ golf courses - where you’ve got to think, be cautious sometimes, and fire at the center of the greens. You’ve got to be very disciplined, and that’s the kind of golf I enjoy.”

Which is why Koepka once again fancies his chances here on the type of links that helped launch his career.

Koepka was out of options domestically after he failed to reach the final stage of Q-School in 2012. So he packed his bags and headed overseas, going on a tear on the European Challenge Tour (Europe’s equivalent of the circuit) and earning four titles, including one here in Scotland. That experience was the most fun and beneficial part of his career, when he learned to win, be self-sufficient and play in different conditions.

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“There’s certain steps, and I embraced it,” Koepka said. “I think that’s where a lot of guys go wrong. You are where you are, and you have to make the best of it instead of just putting your head down and being like, 'Well, I should be on the PGA Tour.' Well, guess what? You’re not. So you’ve got to suck it up wherever you are, make the best of it, and keep plugging away and trying to win everything you can because, eventually, if you’re good enough, you will get out here.”

Koepka has proved that he’s plenty good enough, of course: He’s a combined 20 under in the majors since the beginning of 2017, the best of any player during that span. But he still searches long and hard for a chip to put on his chiseled shoulder.

In his presser after winning at Shinnecock, Koepka said that he sometimes feels disrespected and forgotten, at least compared to his more-ballyhooed peers. It didn’t necessarily bother him – he prefers to stay out of the spotlight anyway, eschewing a media tour after each of his Open titles – but it clearly tweaked him enough for him to admit it publicly.

That feeling didn’t subside after he went back to back at the Open, either. On U.S. Open Sunday, ESPN’s Instagram page didn’t showcase a victorious Koepka, but rather a video of New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. dunking a basketball.

“He’s like 6-foot-2. He’s got hops – we all know that – and he’s got hands. So what’s impressive about that?” Koepka said. “But I always try to find something where I feel like I’m the underdog and put that little chip on my shoulder. Even if you’re No. 1, you’ve got to find a way to keep going and keep that little chip on.

“I think I’ve done a good job of that. I need to continue doing that, because once you’re satisfied, you’re only going to go downhill. You try to find something to get better and better, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Now 28, Koepka has a goal of how many majors he’d like to win before his career is over, but he wasn’t about to share it.

Still, he was adamant about one thing: “Right now I’m focused on winning. That’s the only thing I’ve got in my mind. Second place just isn’t good enough. I finished second a lot, and I’m just tired of it. Once you win, it kind of propels you. You have this mindset where you just want to keep winning. It breeds confidence, but you want to have that feeling of gratification: I finally did this. How cool is this?”

So cool that Koepka can’t wait to win another one.

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Despite results, Thomas loves links golf

By Jay CoffinJuly 17, 2018, 2:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Despite poor results in two previous Open Championships, Justin Thomas contends that he has what it takes to be a good links player. In fact, he believes that he is a good links player.

Two years ago at Royal Troon, Thomas shot 77 in the second round to tie for 53rd place. He was on the wrong side of the draw that week that essentially eliminated anyone from contention who played late Friday afternoon.

Last year at Royal Birkdale, Thomas made a quintuple-bogey 9 on the par-4 sixth hole in the second round and missed the cut by two shots.

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I feel like I’ve played more than two Opens, but I haven’t had any success here,” Thomas said Tuesday at Carnoustie. “I feel like I am a good links player, although I don’t really have the results to show.”

Although he didn’t mention it as a reason for success this week, Thomas is a much different player now than he was two years ago, having ascended to the No. 1 position in the world for a few weeks and now resting comfortably in the second spot.

He also believes a high golf IQ, and the ability to shape different shots into and with the wind are something that will help him in The Open over the next 20 years.

“I truly enjoy the creativity,” Thomas said. “It presents a lot of different strategies, how you want to play it, if you want to be aggressive, if you want to be conservative, if you want to attack some holes, wait on certain winds, whatever it might be. It definitely causes you to think.

“With it being as firm as it is, it definitely adds a whole other variable to it.”