Notes Crows Nest scare the Par-3 Contest jinx

By Doug FergusonApril 6, 2011, 3:13 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – An overnight storm that swept through Augusta National left broken limbs all over the course and knocked down one of the famous trees along Magnolia Lane.

Defending Masters champion Phil Mickelson noticed the gap when he arrived at the course Tuesday.

“It was just disappointing that a tree that’s been there for so many years was uprooted,” he said.

The storms toppled trees and some power lines across town. The club delayed its scheduled opening by 45 minutes to give workers time to clear debris so the practice rounds could begin.

Chain saws could be heard from various corners of the course. In the final minutes before fans were allowed on Augusta National, numerous carts were hauling away tree limbs. Some marshals were picking up debris from fairways.

The day turned sunny but was much cooler, barely reaching the 60s, than the balmy conditions Monday and what is expected during the tournament.

With that in mind, Mickelson changed up his schedule, deciding to take Tuesday off and play a practice round Wednesday, when the forecast was for temperatures in the low 70s.

As for the entrance to the club, Mickelson said jokingly that he couldn’t believe it hadn’t already been replaced.

“Chairman (Billy) Payne must have been sleeping,” Mickelson said. “This place does it right. That drive, I guess it has 60 magnolia trees now instead of 61. But it did not detract from the drive up.”

CROW’S NEST: Peter Uihlein picked the wrong night to spend in the Crow’s Nest, the upper floor cubicle at Augusta National where top amateurs in the Masters are invited to stay.

Watching the national championship basketball game with fellow amateur David Chung was fine. But the powerful storm that roared through the area later in the night caused Uihlein some anxious moments.

“I was up all night,” the U.S. Amateur champion said.

There was no damage in the Crow’s Nest, though Uihlein had already planned to move into a house with relatives and his girlfriend for the rest of the tournament.

Despite the storm, Uihlein was soaking in the experience of his first Masters, including hitting a tee shot on the part-3 12th hole for the first time.

Like his stay in the Crow’s Nest, that was an adventure.

“I hit it in the water the first time I played,” Uihlein said. “Right pin, I went for it.”

CHAMPIONS DINNER: Two-time Masters champ Seve Ballesteros was too ill to attend the Champions Dinner, but the Spaniard was very much a part of the night.

Phil Mickelson, who selected the menu as the 2010 winner, went with a Spanish-themed dinner that included paella.

“All of the past champions are really thinking about Seve,” Mickelson said. “Honoring Seve is easy and no big deal. I just want him to know we all wish he was here and we are thinking about him.”

Ballesteros, who has been battling brain cancer, was one of Mickelson’s golfing heroes. He recalled playing a practice round with the Spaniard at his first PGA Tour event when he was only 17.

“He was the guy I wanted to play with,” Mickelson said. “He was the classiest gentleman to me. From that day on and the rest of my career, he has been the nicest guy and supportive and nothing but class to me. I just always appreciated that.”

Mickelson tried to model his own career after Ballesteros, who was one of the most imaginative shot-makers in the history of the game.

“I watched the way he played and loved the way he played and was drawn in by his charisma,” Mickelson said. “He didn’t let me down at all. He was every bit the gentleman I thought he was and more, and I just want him to know we are thinking about him.”

Jack Nicklaus, who holds the Masters record with six victories, still marvels at the way Ballesteros could bail himself out of trouble.

“Seve was a seat-of-the-pants golfer. He invented shots,” Nicklaus said. “When he couldn’t drive it to find it early in his career, he would play out of parking lots, under cars, over the top, out of trees, and he would knock it on the green and make pars. That’s what he did. That was Seve.”

PAR-3 JINX: The winner of the Par 3 Contest has never gone on to win the green jacket.

That’s not going to stop British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen from coming back to defend his trophy Wednesday.

The South African won the just-for-fun contest a year ago, even through countryman Ernie Els advised him to put the ball in the water after he pulled into a tie for the lead.

“I don’t like to believe in things like that,” Oosthuizen said. “I’m definitely playing again.”

Will he try to win again?

Uhhh, that’s another issue.

“My little girl is going to walk with me,” he joked, “so I’ll probably try and get her to kick the ball or something, so that my score doesn’t count.”

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."

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Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."