Changes to No 5 Els Former Champs

By Golf Channel NewsroomApril 9, 2003, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) -- Before they even began arriving this week, players already knew that the fifth hole at Augusta National had undergone some severe changes.
The tee had been moved back 20 yards, the fairway was shifted to the right and the bunkers down the left side were deepened and moved closer to the green.
What they didn't know until Tuesday, though, was how tough the hole will really be.
HeaderIt used to be a nice, easy driving holes for us,' Ernie Els said. 'And now it's one of the most difficult driving holes.'
Augusta National - Diagram Hole 05The revamping of the fifth hole is the only major change to a course that was lengthened and toughened considerably last year. Judging from the early reviews, the 455-yard par-4 will be all the hole anyone could want.
It's not the distance that makes it difficult, though players will now have to hit longer irons into a tricky green. It's the way the bunkers down the left side were extended 80 yards down the fairway and the fairway moved to the right to make the landing area narrow.
Hit it in one of the bunkers, and you might as well forget par.
'Hootie (Johnson), I guess, had some kind of connections with the military because he dropped a couple bunker-busting bombs out there,' Tiger Woods said.
Players ventured into the bunker during Tuesday's practice round to see how deep it was. They found out it was plenty deep indeed.
'All you can see is the top of the lip and clouds,' Billy Mayfair said. 'You won't be able to get it on the green from there.'
Phil Mickelson checked it out, but didn't bother to play a ball from the sand.
'I'm not planning to go in there,' he said.
Augusta National scrapped its policy banning former champions from playing in the Masters after they turn 65. That wasn't enough to lure back Gay Brewer, Billy Casper or Doug Ford.
They weren't on the list of tee times released Tuesday.
A year ago, Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson sent letters to Brewer, Casper and Ford asking them not to play. They complied with Johnson's request, but Brewer was so angry he refused to attend the annual Champions Dinner.
Afterward, Johnson came up with a policy that barred former champions from playing at age 65 beginning in 2004. Many players were angered by the decision, saying the club had reneged on its promise to allow ex-champions to play as long as they like.
Johnson reversed his decision after receiving letters from Arnold Palmer and six-time winner Jack Nicklaus. Now, former champions are welcome to tee it up as long as they feel competitive.
As a result, Palmer, 73, decided to return for his 49th Masters.
'We will count on our champions to know when their playing careers at the Masters have come to an end,' Johnson said.
Brewer, Casper and Ford decided against making a comeback.
Brewer, 71, had not made the cut since 1983. In 2001, he withdrew after shooting a 91 in the first round. Casper, also 71, actually made it through two rounds in '01 at 23-over 167.
The 80-year-old Ford didn't even try to make it around the course at his last Masters. He took a 6 on the first hole and quit.
The older players normally teed off together in the first group. This year, Augusta National put 66-year-old Tommy Aaron and 65-year-old Charles Coody in the first threesome with 45-year-old Sandy Lyle.
U.S. Amateur champion Ricky Barnes is having a profound impact on Phil Mickelson.
'He's been somewhat of an inspiration for me to get in the gym,' Mickelson said. 'He has an incredible workout regime, and he has the ability to do whatever it takes to play well. I've always thought he's a very motivated player.'
Barnes is listed at 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, although he looks more like he plays linebacker for the University of Arizona instead of golf. His father, Bruce Barnes, once played for the New England Patriots.
Mickelson believes more players built like Barnes are on the way.
'I see these guys coming out of college with strength that are ultimately going to be long drive champions who can chip and putt, and who can play,' he said. 'That is the next generation of players. For me to keep pace with that, I have to get stronger.'
Mickelson says he has been on a fitness routine for six months, although he declined to elaborate on what he does.
'Speed and strength,' he said.
Ernie Els took two weeks off to heal his right wrist, and he arrived at Augusta National in, well, fighting shape.
'It's not an issue at all,' Els said. 'I've had all the scans and stuff done to it, so medically, there's nothing wrong.'
Els, who won four of his first five tournaments this year, injured his wrist on a punching bag while working out at home in London. He played the Bay Hill Invitational, but couldn't attack the ball with his irons.
He pulled out of The Players Championship, saying he didn't want to risk further injury.
'Back in '98, I had an injury in my back and I kept on playing with that injury for two or three months, and my confidence just went,' Els said. 'I really wanted to get it right quickly, and that's what I did. It's 100 percent now.'
Els said he still feels a little pain on certain shots, but 'I know I can't damage it.'
Related Links:
  • 2003 Masters Tournament Mini-Site
  • Tournament Coverage
  • The Augusta National Membership Debate: A Chronology

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    Schauffele just fine being the underdog

    By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

    Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

    Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

    Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

    “All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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    Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

    Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

    So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

    Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

    Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Jordan Spieth: 7/4

    Xander Schauffele: 5/1

    Kevin Kisner: 11/2

    Tiger Woods: 14/1

    Francesco Molinari: 14/1

    Rory McIlroy: 14/1

    Kevin Chappell: 20/1

    Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

    Alex Noren: 25/1

    Zach Johnson: 30/1

    Justin Rose: 30/1

    Matt Kuchar: 40/1

    Webb Simpson: 50/1

    Adam Scott: 80/1

    Tony Finau: 80/1

    Charley Hoffman: 100/1

    Austin Cook: 100/1

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    Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

    By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

    For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

    By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

    But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

    As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

    “This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

    Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

    As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

    After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

    “I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

    But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

    Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

    “I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

    There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

    Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

    And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

    As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

    “We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

    Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

    Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

    The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

    Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

    It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

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    Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

    One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

    McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

    McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

    “I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”