The mystique of the 2014 Masters

By Doug FergusonApril 9, 2014, 9:25 pm

AUGUSTA, Ga. – A quick stroll across the manicured landscape of Augusta National afforded a glimpse of why this Masters is so hard to figure out.

On the putting green in a quiet moment of practice was 20-year-old Jordan Spieth, one of a record 24 newcomers who has every reason to believe he can win. On the golf course for the final day of practice was Webb Simpson, a former U.S. Open champion and one of 21 players who have captured the last 24 majors.

And under the oak tree outside the clubhouse was Miguel Angel Jimenez, the 50-year-old Spaniard trying to make sense of it all.

He recalled his first Masters in 1995, when Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal shared secrets to Augusta National, such as keeping the ball in the right spots on the green and ''to realize here that the target is not the hole.''

''The more you play, the more you like, no?'' Jimenez said as he leaned against his golf bag, looking relaxed as ever behind his aviator sunglasses.

But as he considered the rookies – Spieth and Patrick Reed, Harris English and Jimmy Walker – he dismissed the notion that experience was required for a green jacket.

''There are 24 guys here for the first time,'' he said. ''But there's a reason they are here, no?''


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Nowhere to be found, of course, was Tiger Woods.

Out of golf until the summer because of back surgery, out of the Masters for the first time in his career, the show goes on.

''Well, we miss Tiger, as does the entire golf world,'' Masters chairman Billy Payne said. ''He is always a threat to make a run and do well and win here at Augusta National. ... Nevertheless, this is the Masters. This is what we hope is the best tournament in the world, one of the greatest sporting events. And I think we will have a very impressive audience and have another great champion to crown this year.''

The course closed for practice Wednesday afternoon, and a stream of fans made their way over to the Par 3 Tournament, where occasional cheers broke the silence. It was a precursor of what was sure to follow over the next four days at a major that rarely fails to deliver drama.

Even without Woods.

''It's probably the most anticipated week of the year,'' Rory McIlroy said. ''It's been eight months since we've had a major. It's Augusta. ... There's a lot of guys that seem like once they drive up Magnolia Lane here, something lights up inside them.''

That could be Phil Mickelson, who last year won the British Open at age 42 and now has a chance to join Woods and Arnold Palmer with a fourth green jacket. It could be Adam Scott, trying to join Woods, Nick Faldo and Jack Nicklaus as the only back-to-back winners.

Considering how this year has gone, it could be anybody.

Jason Day, Sergio Garcia and former Masters champion Zach Johnson are the only players from the top 10 who have won anywhere in the world. Only one of the last seven winners on the PGA Tour was ranked in the top 75.

''I think if you're outside the top 50 in the world this week, you've got a great chance,'' U.S. Open champion Justin Rose said with a laugh.

Rose, however, falls on the side of experience – knowing where to miss, knowing where you can't afford to miss, where the hole locations tend to be on the contoured greens and using the slope to get the ball close.

''Always you can have the unknowns,'' he said. ''But I would say 15 guys are pretty strong favorites.''

Woods has become a polarizing figure in golf, especially at the Masters. Since he last won a green jacket in 2005, only once has Woods finished out of the top six. That's what made him so compelling at Augusta. He always seems to be there.

And that's why this Masters seems to lack definition.

No one is dominating golf at the moment. Walker has the most PGA Tour wins (three) this season, but this is his first Masters. Scott had a chance to go to No. 1 in the world three weeks ago at Bay Hill, but he lost a three-shot lead in the final round to Matt Every, who had never won in his career.

Never has there been this much chatter about Masters rookies. Then again, there has never been this many. And they're not bashful about their chances.

''Doesn't matter if you've played here once or if you've played here 50 times,'' Reed said. ''When it comes down to it, it's just going to be that whoever is playing the best is going to walk away with the trophy.''

So maybe it's not that hard to figure out, after all.

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Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 21, 2018, 8:02 pm

Tiger Woods is looking to close his season with a win at the Tour Championship. We're tracking him this week at East Lake Golf Club.


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Web.com pro shoots under par despite a 10

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 21, 2018, 7:34 pm

We've all been there. We make a big number early in a round, and mentally we pack it in for the day, believing our shot to break 100/90/80 is gone before we've even worked up a sweat.

The next time this happens to you, remember the case of Max Rottluff, who made a 10 - a 10! - on a par 4 early in the first round of the Web.com Tour Finals and found himself 6 over par after only two holes. And he had to hole out from the fringe to keep it to a 10!


Full-field scores from the Web.com Tour Championship


Rottluff, a native of Germany who played collegiately at Arizona State, bore down after that, never dropping another stroke. Not only that, but he made seven birdies - two on the front nine and five on the back - to shoot a 1-under-par 70.

Rottluff started the Web.com Tour Finals in 82nd place, so he has a long way to go to reach the top 25 and earn a PGA Tour card. (He did follow his 70 with a 66 in the second round, so he's headed in the right direction.) He finished 64th on the Web.com Tour's regular-season money list, which guarantees him a full exemption on that tour next year.

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Tiger gets rapper Big Boi's support during opening 65

By Grill Room TeamSeptember 21, 2018, 6:00 pm

Tiger Woods fans everywhere were buzzing during his opening 65 at the Tour Championship, and that includes Atlanta hip-hop legend Big Boi, who was supporting the 14-time major champ from the East Lake gallery.

Perhaps best known as one half of the rap duo "Outkast" along with André 3000, Big Boi played the part of Woods superfan on Thursday, following Tiger around the course and posting videos on Twitter, before eventually stopping for a chat and a few pictures after the round.

Big Boi, who kicked off the Tour Championship with a performance at the event’s opening ceremonies, is hardly the first hip-hop superstar to buddy up to Woods - who could forget these incredible pictures with Snoop Dogg?

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After Web.com Tour Finals, Peterson retires ... again

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 21, 2018, 5:50 pm

OK, now it’s official: John Peterson is done with professional golf.  

With one last chance to secure his PGA Tour card for next season, Peterson missed the cut in the season-ending Web.com Tour Championship. After failing to keep conditional status on Tour – in the most excruciating of circumstances – Peterson is now out of options to play the big tour in 2019, so he’s stepping away from professional golf, at age 29.


Full-field scores from the Web.com Tour Championship


It’s been one of the most unusual storylines of the year. The former NCAA individual champion from LSU announced at the beginning of the year that he was done if he didn’t keep his card on his major medical extension. He’d grown tired of the nomadic existence on Tour, and as a new father and husband, he’d already lined up his next career, in real estate and business development in his hometown of Fort Worth, Texas.

In July, Peterson said that the Web.com Tour Finals would be his final opportunity. If he earned a full PGA Tour card through the four-event series, then he’d continue to play in 2018-19 because he’d be able to pick and choose his schedule. But he never threatened full status, missing three cuts and tying for 56th in the other start.

And so on Friday afternoon, Peterson tapped out this tweet, saying goodbye to the Tour: