The Masters Constantly Changes

By George WhiteApril 5, 2005, 4:00 pm
Were he returning to earth today from a 70-year voyage in outer space, Alister Mackenzie would probably react with a sudden start. The acreage upon which he and Bobby Jones collaborated to build Augusta National is only faintly recognizable. The location of the 18 holes are all the same. But little of the golf ' or the golf course - is.
Augusta has had to change ' continuously. Golf itself has been in a constant state of flux the past century, and Augusta National has been swept along with it. Some of the changes have furthered the Mackenzie-Jones concept of golf as being a game of ultimate strategy. Others, sadly, havent, a victim of space-age metals, vastly improved ball construction, and a total change in agronomy. Yes, this is a far different place than what Augusta National was in 1934 when Horton Smith won the first Augusta National Invitation Tournament.
The course had opened for play late in 1932 at the height of the Great Depression, and two years later, only 76 members were on the rolls. Augusta National was in danger of going under before the first Masters was ever played.
In 1934 Jones and Clifford Roberts decided to have a tournament. Nothing so grandiose as a major was envisioned then. In 1934, the two nines were the opposite of what they are today, play ending where the ninth green presently sits. But early-morning frost repeatedly delayed play on the first few holes for the membership, so the nines were reversed after the tournaments first year. The change has resulted in an untold number of great Masters finishes on the newer back nine ' though Mackenzie would be bewildered were he to see it today.
Gene Sarazens double eagle on Sunday at the 15th the second year of the tournament (1935) may still be the greatest single shot in golf history. Immediately wiped away was Craig Woods three-shot lead and Sarazen claimed the title in a 36-hole playoff Monday. The 4-wood shot from 235 yards wouldnt have been possible today, though. The lake fronting the green has been enlarged and the area where the ball hit has been shaved drastically. Sarazens magnificent poke, alas, probably would have ended up in the water.
Jones steadfastly refused to call the tournament the Masters, though everyone else did after the inaugural in 1934. Jones believed the Masters was much too pompous and held out until 1939, when he finally relented.
The course was closed in the World War II years of 1943, 44 and 45. Turkeys were raised on the property, and cattle were allowed to roam the fairways, keeping down the mowing expense.
Magnolia Lane, the 330-yard path from the street to the clubhouse, wasnt even paved until 1947. That was the year that the tournament first had field scoreboards on the course. And Sarazen didnt win a green jacket. That didnt happen until 1949, with Sam Snead earning the first winners coat. Incidentally, no one felt the need to rope the fairways until 49, when the 11th fairway was roped.
In 1952, Ben Hogan inaugurated the first champions dinner after his win in 1951. Hogan had suggested the meal, and he began the tradition of the winner paying for the grub. Of course, when Hogan initiated the dinner, there was far fewer invitees than there is now. It has mushroomed with each year so by the time Phil Mickelson serves the lobster and ravioli this year, there will be three times the number of winners there as was at Hogans soiree.
The first time the Masters was broadcast was in 1956, when play was described on four holes (15-18). And in 1957, they finally got around to instituting the 36-hole cut ' the low 40 and ties was the rule. Today, it has been amended to include the low 44 and ties, plus anyone 10 shots of the leader at the end of 36 holes.
In 1958, writer Herbert Warren Wind first used the term Amen Corner to describe the green at 11, the par-3 12th, and the tee shot at 13. Augusta National introduced the scoring method of over- and under-par in 1960, now used at golf tournaments around the world. And in 1963, when Jack Nicklaus won his first of six Masters titles, attendance was limited for the first time.
Roberto de Vicenzo committed the most monumental blunder in golf history in 1968, signing for a 4 on the 17th hole instead of the correct birdie 3 and thereby forfeiting a chance at a playoff with Bob Goalby. In 1972, the Masters finally instituted a waiting list for tickets.
The Masters had a Monday playoff until 1976, when the present-day sudden-death playoff was instituted. And in the fall of 1980, perhaps the most monumental change in Augusta National history occurred when the course was planted with bentgrass. The previous 40 years, play was on the slower Bermuda. But with the advent of the bent, Augusta Nationals greens became the slippery surfaces that they are today.
In 1983, players were finally allowed to use caddies of their choice instead of utilizing caddies from Augusta Nationals barn. In 1999, the list for qualification into the Masters was changed - no longer did winning a PGA Tour event guarantee a spot into the Augusta field. And in 1999, another huge change to the course was instituted ' rough was allowed to grow (Augusta National referred to it as the second cut.)
Through it all, the club has been open for play only from October to May, with the summer months reserved for course conditioning. But that has done nothing to change the desire for inclusion ' Augusta National is the most sought-after membership in the world.
Yes sir, Alister Mackenzie would blink his eyes in wonderment at the course he and Jones created. Thursday, for the 69th time, they gather to play the Masters once again. Conditions change, features change, but the Masters is always The Masters. It is timeless as the sport of golf itself.
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    Woods, McIlroy in Sunday super group in finale

    By Mercer BaggsSeptember 23, 2018, 12:12 am

    ATLANTA – Rory McIlroy has made known his disdain for “super groups” in early tournament rounds.

    Well, he’s now got one on Sunday at the Tour Championship. And it doesn’t get more super than this.

    McIlroy will play alongside Tiger Woods in the final pairing, in the final round at East Lake Golf Club. Woods leads McIlroy – and Justin Rose – by three shots.

    Projected FedExCup standings

    Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

    Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    “All I can do is worry about myself,” McIlroy said. “It doesn't matter who it is I'm playing with. It's obviously exciting for the golf tournament. It's exciting for golf, in general, that he's up there. But for me, all I can do is concentrate on myself. The game is hard enough without having to – without looking at other people. Go out there, take care of my business, and hopefully that's good enough.”

    This is the fifth time that McIlroy and Woods have been grouped this year. They were alongside one another in the first two rounds of the Genesis Open and the first two rounds of the PGA Championship.

    In the four previous rounds, McIlroy finished better twice, Woods once, and they tied once.

    “It's going to be fun. We haven't done that much of late, because I've not been there,” Woods said. “He has been there, and he's won a bunch of tournaments. So it's nice for us to go back out and play against one another, be in the mix.”

    We know Woods will be wearing his traditional red in the final round. As for McIlroy?

    "I think I'll wear red," McIlroy joke. "No, geez, I've regretted wearing black out here today. It was hot."

    They go out at 2:05 p.m. ET.

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    Stricker, Jobe share lead in Sioux Falls

    By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2018, 11:57 pm

    SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Steve Stricker and Brandt Jobe topped the Sanford International leaderboard again Saturday after another cool and breezy day in the inaugural PGA Tour Champions event.

    After matching Jerry Smith and David McKenzie with first-round 7-under 63s, Striker and Jobe each shot 67 to get to 10-under 130 at Minnehaha Country Club.

    ''It was a challenge out there today,'' Stricker said. ''It was gusty, the wind came out of the south, where we played yesterday it was out of the north, so it was a totally different golf course.''

    Jobe made an 18-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th, and Stricker missed a 6-footer to leave them tied.

    Full-field scores from the Sanford International

    ''It's pretty straightforward off the tee and the greens are what make it difficult at times and you've just got to be in the right spot to have good birdie putts at it,'' Stricker said. ''If not, then you've got to play pretty defensive at times. ... It's a simple game plan, but try to stay out of trouble and keep trying to put pressure on everybody.''

    Stricker won in Arizona and Mississippi in consecutive starts in May for his first senior victories. Next week in France, he will be one of U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk's assistants.

    Jobe birdied four of the last five holes. He won last year in Iowa for his lone senior title

    ''I think we kind of got used to what the wind was,'' Jobe said. ''Of course, there's some scoring holes on the back. The front played very difficult. It was just kind of try not to screw up for a while there.''

    Smith was a stroke back after a 68.

    Scott McCarron also had a 68 to get to 8 under. Woody Austin was 7 under after a 64.

    McKenzie had a 77 to drop into a tie for 43rd at even par.

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    Final-round tee times: Tiger, Rory in last pairing

    By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 22, 2018, 11:40 pm

    It's Tiger Woods. It's Rory McIlroy. It's the final pairing in the final round of the Tour Championship.

    Here's a look at tee times for Sunday at East Lake Golf Club.

    (All times ET)

    11:45AM: Patrick Reed (+8), Phil Mickelson (+11)

    11:55AM: Keegan Bradley (+5), Bubba Watson (+5)

    12:05PM: Brooks Koepka (+4), Francesco Molinari (+4)

    12:15PM: Kevin Na (+2), Patrick Cantlay (+2)

    12:25PM: Bryson DeChambeau (+2), Cameron Smith (+2)

    12:35PM: Jason Day (E), Rickie Fowler (E)

    12:45PM: Marc Leishman (E), Patton Kizzire (E)

    12:55PM: Tommy Fleetwood (-2), Hideki Matsuyama (-1)

    1:05PM: Justin Thomas (-4), Webb Simpson (-3)

    1:15PM: Gary Woodland (-4), Xander Schauffele (-4)

    1:25PM: Aaron Wise (-4), Dustin Johnson (-4)

    1:35PM: Tony Finau (-5), Billy Horschel (-5)

    1:45PM: Jon Rahm (-6), Paul Casey (-5)

    1:55PM: Justin Rose (-9), Kyle Stanley (-6)

    2:05PM: Tiger Woods (-12), Rory McIlroy (-9)

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    FedExCup projections through Rd. 3 of the Tour Championship

    By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 22, 2018, 11:26 pm

    Justin Rose remains the man to beat for the FedExCup title. Though he trails Tiger Woods by three shots through three rounds of the Tour Championship, he's still the projected winner of the $10 million bonus.

    Woods can still win the cup if he wins the Tour Championship and Rose finishes in a three-way tie for fifth or worse. He also needs Bryson DeChambeau [currently T-21] to finish in a two-way tie for 15th or worse and Tony Finau [T-6] to finish in a two-way tie for third or worse.

    Here are the FedExCup projections with 18 holes to play at East Lake Golf Club.

    FedExCup Rank PLAYER NAME FedExCup Points
    1 2 Justin Rose 2780
    2 20 Tiger Woods 2219
    3 1 Bryson DeChambeau 2160
    4 3 Tony Finau 1887
    5 4 Dustin Johnson 1576
    6 5 Justin Thomas 1560
    7 17 Rory McIlroy 1252
    8 6 Keegan Bradley 1247
    9 7 Brooks Koepka 1099
    10 9 Billy Horschel 1007
    11 8 Bubba Watson 927
    12 24 Jon Rahm 660
    13 25 Kyle Stanley 651
    14 10 Cameron Smith 640
    15 11 Webb Simpson 612
    16 12 Jason Day 560
    17 18 Xander Schauffele 531
    18 26 Paul Casey 518
    19 13 Francesco Molinari 491
    20 21 Aaron Wise 486
    21 16 Patrick Cantlay 453
    22 19 Tommy Fleetwood 451
    23 14 Phil Mickelson 448
    24 15 Patrick Reed 432
    25 28 Gary Woodland 413
    26 23 Rickie Fowler 374
    27 27 Hideki Matsuyama 354
    27 22 Kevin Na 354
    29 29 Marc Leishman 316
    30 30 Patton Kizzire 307