Happens Every Spring

By Brian HewittMarch 8, 2007, 5:00 pm
Hard to believe the Masters begins four Thursdays from now. Time flies when youre having fun. And sometimes it flies when youre not. But excitement always flies around the grounds at Augusta National the first week in April.
 
Hard to believe golf is so hard to believe.
 
Golf is assuredly a mystifying game, wrote none other than Bobby Jones, the man primarily responsible for making the first Masters happen way back in 1934. It would seem that if a person has hit a golf ball correctly a thousand times, he should be able to duplicate the performance at will. But this is certainly not the case.
 
It would seem that if a person was told that he needed to get excited about the same event at the same venue at the same time every year, he might get a bit jaded. But that is certainly not the case either when it comes to The Masters.
 
It is the first major championship of the season and the most anticipated. There are American players who will tell you they covet a spot in the U.S. Open more. And there are International players who will tell you they would rather win the Open Championship, a.k.a the British Open, more than any other tournament.
 
But I have yet to find the player who will tell me there is any competition they would rather receive their invitation to in the mail more than the Masters.
 
Hard to believe, too, by the way, that The Masters is now being run by Billy Payne who has succeeded Hootie Johnson who succeeded Jack Stephens, who succeeded Hord Hardin who succeeded William Lane who succeeded Clifford Roberts.
 
Hard to believe Augusta National, the golf club that hosts The Masters has simultaneously and deservedly earned the reputation for being at once obdurately secretive and unfailingly hospitable.
 
I want you to know we appreciate all you have done for us, Payne says to the media in his Message From The Chairman in the 2007 Masters media guide.
 
Hard to believe Augusta National wont be playing any longer this year than it did last year. As recently as 1998 the golf course measured out at 6,925 yards. Last year it had stretched to 7,445 yards. No new length for 2007.
 
In the end, two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw told author John Feinstein, you win The Masters with your short game. But you have to have enough length to get into position to make those shots.
 
It is not hard to believe that Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh have won six of the last seven Masters. All three are inordinately long off the tee and all three possess exquisite touch around the greens. Nor will it be hard to believe if Swedens Henrik Stenson, also long and deft, plays well this year in his second appearance at Augusta. Stenson already has won two titles this year'Dubai and the WGC-Accenture Match Play'in which the redoubtable Woods was in the field.
 
Hard to believe Gary Player, who won The Masters in 1961, 1974 and 1978, will be playing in his 50th Masters. There is no tournament in the world, Player said earlier this year, that compares to Augusta as far as running a tournament.
 
To be sure, there is a precision that complements The Masters charm that would make a Swiss watchmaker blush. Although when they are in the same place every year and they know exactly what theyre capable of, it makes it a bit easier, Player added.
 
But thats kind of the point, isnt it? Television viewers love The Masters because they know the holes because the venue never changes. Raes Creek, Butler Cabin, Eisenhower Tree, Magnolia Lane, Sarazen Bridge. Its all part of the tradition that oozes from the place and makes sentimentalists out of even the most hardened observers.
 
Familiarity, by the way, is also why the PGA TOURs Players Championship has been catching up so fast. Its not close to The Masters yet (what event is?). But when you get a terrific golf course, a meaningful tournament and you dont change the site, you will be way ahead of everybody else each year before the first ball is struck.
 
Finally there is this: Augusta National during Masters week is the only place I know where spectators, arriving for the practice rounds for the first time, are more interested in seeing the golf course than they are in watching the players who might happen to be tuning up at the time.
 
And if you have ever been to The Masters, you will not find that hard to believe at all.
 
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    Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

    By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

    NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

    Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

    The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

    Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

    The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

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    Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

    By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

    It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

    Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

    The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

    The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

    For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

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    Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

    By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

    After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

    But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

    Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

    Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

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    Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

    By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

    Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

    The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

    “There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.


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    In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

    “To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

    Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

    “To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.