Best Augusta Story Told by a Woman
Friday, May 21, 2004 was the day. We traveled to Augusta from our home on Hilton Head Island on Thursday evening as a precaution against travel mishaps that might occur on Friday morning. It was a beautiful day. My husband was also invited to play, although he had played there on a few occasions. I had never thought I would have the opportunity, but it was now finally happening. The drive down Magnolia Lane sent goose bumps over my body. Thinking of all those greats who had traveled this Lane before filled my head. Our host welcomed us as we parked our car and ushered us to the Clubhouse where we met another gentleman who would be our fourth for the round. There being no locker room for ladies, my host took me upstairs to the Champions' Locker Room. He asked which locker I wished to use, and without hesitation, I chose Arnold Palmer's locker. What a thrill! With a warm smile, my host suggested that I should tell my women golfing friends of the fine hospitality shown to women at Augusta. But that was only the beginning. We then proceeded to lunch in the dining room which was delightful, served in the elegantly casual atmosphere which personifies Augusta National.
Then off to the practice range where we were reunited with our clubs and introduced to our caddies. After watching me hit a few shots, my caddie immediately tried to put me at ease by saying things like the course would be easy for me and that I would outplay the men etc. It was not working! On the first tee, and I must remind you, there are no tees for ladies, it was decided on the grounds that as this was my day, that I should have the honor. It was conceded that I would play from the front of the members' tees which probably reduces the yardage to about 6,100. At address my knees were shaking and I told the rest of the group who all laughed goodheartedly. I am not sure how but I was able to make a decent swing and hit the ball straight down the middle about 190 yards. The game was on. While I did manage to hit a solid three wood down in front of the green, I proceeded to run my chip shot over the green and take four more from there to finish my first hole at Augusta with a triple bogey. An auspicious start to say the least.
The par 5 second, Pink Dogwood, proved to be more satisfying. Following a good drive and another solid 3 wood down to the flat area, I hit my 8 iron approach into the left front bunker. From there I blasted out to about 12 feet of the back left pin and made the putt for par. My first par at Augusta...I was ecstatic. From there everything within me settled down and with prompting from my husband and my caddie I started to look at my surroundings. It is different inside the ropes and I think the hills are steeper than what the spectators experience in April. The azaleas are finished of course for the year, but the lush greenness remains and is every bit as beautiful. The fairways are still magnificent, but in late May there are tell-tale signs of the Georgia summer heat that is around the corner starting to show on the rye grass. The greens, while surely wearing a lower reading on the stimpmeter than during the Masters, are every bit as treacherous. I can vouch for that!
I made the turn in 46 and then like the course itself, proceeded downhill with three double bogeys in a row. Despite my determination to par No.12 and especially not to end up in Rae's Creek, I hit my tee shot long into one of the two back bunkers. Looking at Rae's from there was pretty scary and I failed to get out on my first attempt and a double bogey followed. With the greens snatching two possible pars from me on 13 and 14 ( the latter green the toughest of all I believe), I played Number 15, Firethorn, well after almost putting my second in the pond in front. My caddie was surprised and asked if I had been trying to duplicate Sarazen's double eagle. Instead I chipped to within 10 feet, lipped my birdie putt and marked a 5 on my card. I followed that up with a 20 foot putt on sixteen which was special for it is this hole we sit on Saturday and Sunday afternoons at the Masters. While I do not know the exact statistic, I believe more Tournaments have been won or lost on this hole than any other. It is my favorite.
Seventeen and eighteen produced two bogeys. Walking up 18, it occurred to me that the round was almost over and it had taken twenty minutes to play. Or so it seemed. The rush was so great...there was no tiredness, no aching bones on that long, last climb. My caddie, who had also graciously served as photographer, took some final shots of everyone on that last hill, some with the clubhouse ahead of us and others looking back down over the beautiful old lady now shimmering in late afternoon Georgia sunshine.
My final tally was a 95 and I felt very proud to have achieved that as an 18 handicap player. I also had felt the presence of Arnie with me for the entire round and it was good. We reminisced with cocktails on the veranda later and talked about the good shots and the bad shots and those that should have been. It was a day in my golfing life that will be remembered always. And it was good.
- June, Hilton Head Island, SC
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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage
NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:
Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)
Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.
1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.
Knox relishes round with 'mythical figure' Woods
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Russell Knox was expecting the worst and hoping for the best Thursday at The Open.
Playing with Tiger Woods tends to have that effect.
The native Scot received a treat earlier this week when he saw his name on the tee sheet alongside his boyhood idol, Woods.
“Felt good out there, but obviously my swing, it was just like I had too much tension,” Knox said after an opening 73. “I just wasn’t letting it go as normal. First round with Tiger, I expected to feel a little bit different. The way I felt was better than the way I swung.”
Knox said that he was nervous playing alongside Woods, a player he’d only encountered on the range. “He’s almost like a mythical figure,” he said.
But after a while, he settled into the rhythm of the round at Carnoustie.
“I thought it would be worse,” he said, “I feel like I should know what I’m doing. It’s cool playing with Tiger, but I’ve got to get over that. I’m here to win, not just enjoy my walk around the course.”
Knox probably had more interaction with Woods than he anticipated, if only because the third member of the group, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, keeps to himself because of the language barrier.
“It’s kind of a blur,” Knox said. “It’s like, Oh, I’m chatting away with Tiger here like normal. I don’t even remember what I was saying.”
There have been countless stories from this year as the next generation of players – guys who grew up watching Woods dominate the sport – get paired with Woods for the first time.
It was no less special for Knox on Thursday.
“It’s nice for him to say things like that,” Woods said, “and we enjoyed playing with each other. Hopefully we’ll play a little bit better tomorrow.”
Rain expected to shower Carnoustie Friday morning
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – By the end of the day Friday, we’ll be able to determine which side of The Open draw ended the first two rounds at Carnoustie with more favorable conditions. With rain expected for most of Friday morning, it seems those who played early/late may be more pleased.
According to Weather.com, there is a 75 percent chance of rain beginning at 2 a.m. local time Friday here in Scotland. That percentage vaults up to 95 percent by 7 a.m., with the first tee time scheduled for 6:35. At 11, the number drops to 55 percent. After 2 p.m., the percentage chances of rain are 25 percent and below for the remainder of the day.
Temperatures during the day are expected to be from the low 50s to the low 60s and winds will vary between 14-18 mph, again per Weather.com.
This is The Open’s official weather report for the weekend:
Saturday: A dull start with some drizzle possible. Staying cloudy for much of the day but gradually becoming brighter with a chance of some sunny intervals during the afternoon and evening. Winds light and variable in direction but should predominantly settle in to a SSE 8-12mph during the afternoon. Max temp 20C (68F).
Sunday: Often cloudy but mainly dry. A better chance of some decent sunny spells compared to Saturday. Most likely the windiest day of the Championship; SW 12-18mph with gusts 20-25mph. Feeling warm, especially in any sunshine with a max temp of 23C (73F).
Bandaged Woods 5 back after even-par 71
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods arrived Thursday with therapeutic tape on the back of his neck.
Carnoustie’s back nine inflicted even more pain.
Playing in the most difficult conditions of the day, Woods’ progress was stalled by two late bogeys as he settled for an even-par 71 that left him five shots off the lead at The Open.
“I played better than what the score indicates,” he said. “It certainly could have been a little bit better.”
Woods created a stir when he showed up with black kinesiology tape on his neck. Afterward, he said that his neck has been bugging him “for a while” and that Thursday was merely the first time that the tape was visible.
“Everyone acts like this is the first time I’ve been bandaged up,” he said, smiling. “I’ve been doing this for years.”
Woods said that the discomfort didn’t really affect his swing, other than a few shots “here and there.” It didn’t seem to affect his score, either, as he went out in 2 under before a few stumbles on the back nine.
On the fast, baked-out turf, he played conservatively off the tee, using driver only once and 3-wood just twice. Apparently he didn’t need the added distance, not with his 6-iron traveling 240 yards. He tried to play to his spots, even if it routinely left him more than 200 yards for his approach.
That’s the strategy he employed at Hoylake in 2006, where he hit driver just once and captured the third of his Open titles. Despite some of the similarities in firmness, Woods said that Carnoustie presents a different challenge off the tee.
“These fairways are very small,” he said. “They’re hard to hit right now. They’re so fast, and they’re so moundy.”
Finding the fairway wasn’t the chief problem for Woods on Day 1, however. He missed just four fairways but found only 11 greens.
More damaging to his score was his play on the par 5s. Despite having only an 8-iron in, he failed to birdie each of the two par 5s and then bogeyed Nos. 10, 13 and 15 to squander his early momentum.
Though the draw here won’t be a significant factor – or at least not like in recent years, with a wide range in scores from morning to afternoon – it’s clear that Woods (in game 47 of 52) encountered the most difficult of the conditions Thursday, with the wind gusting to 20 mph and the fairways running even faster after another sun-splashed afternoon.
Still, his opening 71 was one of the better scores in the late wave.
“He hit it good,” said playing partner Russell Knox. “He plotted his way around, which I expected him to do, and he was very conservative off the tee. It’s kind of fun to watch him do that, to be honest.”
Even more fun would be a major with Woods in contention.
He hasn’t broken par in the opening round of his last eight majors. Indeed, for Woods, these slow starts have been the real pain in the neck.