Odds on Ends to a Moistened Masters

By Brian HewittApril 7, 2003, 4:00 pm
Jonathan Byrd was driving to his first Masters. Actually, his wife, Amanda, was behind the wheel. They had begun their trek in Sea Island, Ga., and when the cell phone rang they were near Statesboro.
 
On the other end of the line was your intrepid Golf Channel reporter wanting to know what Byrd thought of close friend Ben Crane's breakthrough victory at the BellSouth Classic.
 
Byrd, who had won his first PGA Tour tournament at last year's Buick Challenge, was ecstatic for Crane. He pointed out that Crane was a wonderful putter and fearless when near the lead. He said he wasn't surprised that Crane had shot 64 63 at the TPC at Sugarloaf, 17-under par on the weekend, to overhaul veteran Bob Tway and beat him by four shots.
 
So on to the subject turned to Augusta National. This was when Byrd learned for the first time that the weather prognosticators were calling for rain and chilly temperatures Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at Augusta National. And he was bummed. He had squeezed in a practice round the previous Thursday under ideal conditions and pronounced the course 'a beast.' It was a beast he couldn't wait to test again. But now the meteorologists were prediciting bad things.
 
'Doesn't God know,' Byrd said with a pause, 'that this is Masters week?'
 
Byrd is very religious, as is Crane. So he paused again. Then he added, 'Just kidding.'
 
Byrd didn't want to sound sacrilegious. But his point was made. A wet Masters week would reduce the number of players with the length to win at the 7,290 yard Augusta National course under those conditions.
 
Which brings your intrepid reporter to my predictions, along with odds for the 67th Masters.
 
Tiger WoodsTIGER WOODS - Even Money
Only a fool would pick against Tiger in his bid to become the first man in history to win three straight Masters. Now that doesn't mean it's a certainty that he will win the tournament. But if the weatherman turns out to be right, it will help Tiger more than most. In case you've been on Neptune for the last 10 years, Tiger hits the ball a long way. And please, not to forget: His last 10 rounds at the Masters have all been under par.
 
ERNIE ELS - 8:1
Maybe the rest from the incident in which he injured his wrist working out on a heavy bag wil turn out to be the tonic that he needs. Clearly, Els has been the second best player in the world so far this year. He has three top 10s in a row at Augusta. But he also has bad memories of the triple-bogey eight he took on the 13th last year during Sunday's final round.
 
DAVIS LOVE III 10:1
Has the length and the momentum off his recent Players Championship. Plus, has finished in top 15 in six of the last eight Masters. Last three Masters winners have led the field in greens in regulation
 
Phil MickelsonPHIL MICKELSON - 12:1
Just a hunch here, but I think all the things that have been going on in Mickelson's life in the last few months - the birth of his first son, the controversy over his critique of Woods' equipment, the fuss over his conditioning, etc. etc. - may turn out to work in his favor. This could be the major that 'wins' Phil. Certainly his expectations will be lowered. And I think that could be of benefit. Conversely, I won't be surprised at all if he shoots 76-76 and trunkslams late Friday. A reminder: Mickelson has finished third in each of the last two Masters.
 
RETIEF GOOSEN - 15:1
Tied for third at the BellSouth Classic Sunday; second at last year's Masters. Goosen has the length to keep up with the big boys if it rains. His game seems to be coming to the boil at the right time as well. Eight Masters champions won the year after finishing second.
 
VIJAY SINGH - 30:1
All depends on his physical condition. The 2000 Masters champion has been nursing sore ribs. Don't expect much from him. But don't be surprised if he plays well.
 
Fred CouplesTHE FIELD - 100:1
The best of the rest include Mike Weir, Chris DiMarco, Padraig Harrington, Jim Furyk, Justin Leonard and Sergio Garcia. A good longshot is Robert Allenby. Another player I like is Darren Clarke, who always seems to play well when instructor Butch Harmon is around.
 
Speaking of Butch, he is coaching the field's preeminent wild card, Fred Couples. Ignore Boom Boom in your Masters pools at your own peril.
 
Related Links:
  • Augusta, Ga., Weather
  • 2003 Masters Tournament Mini-Site
  • Tournament Coverage
  • The Augusta National Membership Debate: A Chronology
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    DEFCON Tiger: Woods' Saturday lights Twitter ablaze

    By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 22, 2018, 8:15 pm

    Tiger Woods grabbed the Tour Championship lead and the sports world by the throat Saturday, making birdie on six of his first seven holes in his third round and sending social media into a frenzy.

    Here's a sampling from athletes, journalists and celebrtiies, and we'll start with two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry.

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    Lewis fires 61, two behind Herbert in Portugal

    By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2018, 8:13 pm

    VILAMOURA, Portugal – Tom Lewis came within two shots of tying English countryman Oliver Fisher's European Tour record on another day of low scoring at the Portugal Masters on Saturday.

    Lewis returned a 10-under 61 in the third round, just 24 hours after Fisher carded the first 59 on the circuit. Lewis moved to two strokes behind leader Lucas Herbert of Australia.

    Lewis acknowledged the thought of another 59 crept into his mind: ''It's something I noticed with three holes to go. I wasn't that bothered at the end of the day.

    ''I'm pleased that I shot 10 under par. I can only continue to make birdies and see what happens tomorrow.''

    Herbert, who is playing off invites this season as he looks to earn his full tour playing privileges, shot a 64 for a 19-under total of 194.

    Fisher took 10 more strokes than he did on Friday and was in a group on 14-under 199.

    Sergio Garcia of Spain, trying to find form ahead of next week's Ryder Cup, was on 204 after a 68.

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    Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship

    By Tiger TrackerSeptember 22, 2018, 7:25 pm

    After grinding out a 68 on Friday, Tiger Woods is trying to get the lead all to himself in Round 3 at the Tour Championship. We're tracking him.


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    Highlights: Tiger's seven Saturday birdies so far

    By Nick MentaSeptember 22, 2018, 7:08 pm

    Tiger Woods entered Saturday tied atop the board and wasted little time taking the outright lead at East Lake.

    Woods moved clear of the field with this birdie at No. 1, whipping the Atlanta crowd into an early frenzy.

    Following a 4-foot par save at the second, Woods moved ahead by two and reached 9 under par when he played this approach from 144 and sank this 8-footer for birdie at the third.

    One hole later, Woods reached double digits at 10 under par when he poured in a bending 21-footer that just crept over the lip.

    He made it four birdies in his first five holes when he bombed a 320-yard drive, wedged to 7 feet, and converted again.

    He looked in danger of not capitalizing on his first crack at a par-5 after he came out of a fairway wood on his second shot, but a splash from the bunker and a make from 6 feet gave him his fifth circle in six holes.

    He went Vintage Tiger at the seventh, playing this fairway bunker shot from 172 yards to 5 feet, setting up his sixth birdie in his first seven holes and advancing him to 13 under, five clear.

    Looking to make the turn in 29, Woods instead missed the green at the par-3 ninth, failed to get up and down for par, and had to settle for 5-under 30.

    Following pars at 10 and 11, he started looking this approach up and down at the 12th, leading to his seventh birdie of the day.

    Woods saw his lead decrease from five to three when he bogeyed the par-4 16th and Rose birdied. Woods missed the fairway and green and then failed to pull off an aggressive flop shot up a steep slope.