Masters practice round: Who's your pick?

By Rex HoggardDecember 7, 2012, 10:35 pm

Tianlang Guan, 14, made waves last month when he won the Asia-Pacific Amateur and earned an invitation to play in the 2013 Masters. This week, while playing in the company of some of the world's most elite at the Emirates Australian Open, Guan received an invitation of another sort – the chance to play a practice round at Augusta National in 2013 alongside two-time Masters champion Tom Watson. We asked writers which Masters champ would they most like to play alongside in a practice round at Augusta National, and here's what they had to say.


With a monsoon of respect to living legends Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, if the purpose of a practice round at Augusta National is to learn the intricacies of the current layout, not the version from yesteryear,Phil Mickelson is the preferred partner.

Although the legendary two-ball has a combined 22 green jackets compared to Lefty’s three, no one has played the former nursery better since the club “Tiger-proofed” the layout before the 2002 Masters than Mickelson, not even Woods.

Prior to Tom Fazio’s handiwork, which included extended tee boxes on half the course’s holes, Woods dominated the layout, winning in record fashion in 1997 and again in 2001. Since the changes Woods is 2-for-11.

By comparison Mickelson has won all three of his green jackets since the changes, recorded eight top-5 finishes and has shown a willingness to share his accumulated knowledge on the venerable layout. Just ask Keegan Bradley, who slipped up to Augusta National the week of last year’s WGC-Cadillac Championship for a “learning” round with Mickelson.

Mickelson has become something of a mentor on Tour for the likes of Bradley and Dustin Johnson and it would be difficult to find a better guide for an 18-hole crash course on the game’s most exacting test.


Put me on the first tee with Jack Nicklaus.

It’s all about the education in a practice round like this, so give me four hours with the greatest player ever. Give me four hours with the guy who has won more major championships and more Masters than anyone.

At 72, Nicklaus may no longer be able to captivate us with his shot making, but he still captivates us with his insight and opinion. He still ranks as one of the most compelling interviews in the game. You get Jack Nicklaus in an interview room today, it’s still a full house.

I like to use a yellow highlighter when perusing transcripts from PGA Tour media interview rooms. When Jack’s the subject, I’m practically highlighting everything. Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy can deplete a highlighter fast, but nobody today ranks with Nicklaus in that regard. There are usually four or five story ideas coming out of one Nicklaus interview, or at least four or five stories that can be built around something he said. His opinions still matter as much as anyone’s in the game. He still dominates that way.


Gary Player.

Selecting only one former Masters champion with whom to play a practice round is a difficult choice, but also a great problem to have. Topping my list would be the Black Knight.

My thought is this: I only have a precious few hours inside the ropes at Augusta National, and as a result, I’d be looking to maximize my experience. Player’s ability to combine Masters memories, golf tips and general life stories would potentially be unmatched, as I’m sure I would be overwhelmed with the quality as well as the quantity of his recollections and advice. Part practice round, part fireside chat, part life coach seminar, I’m confident that I would benefit greatly from a loop with the nine-time major champ.

An opportunity to walk the fairways at Augusta National with Player, where every tee box and green would elicit a story or memory from his vast database of personal experience, would be remarkable. And if nothing else, I’m sure that after the round, I’d walk away with a new fitness plan to employ – likely heavy on the crunches. 

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DEFCON Tiger: Woods' Saturday lights Twitter ablaze

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 22, 2018, 8:15 pm

Tiger Woods grabbed the Tour Championship lead and the sports world by the throat Saturday, making birdie on six of his first seven holes in his third round and sending social media into a frenzy.

Here's a sampling from athletes, journalists and celebrtiies, and we'll start with two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry.

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Lewis fires 61, two behind Herbert in Portugal

By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2018, 8:13 pm

VILAMOURA, Portugal – Tom Lewis came within two shots of tying English countryman Oliver Fisher's European Tour record on another day of low scoring at the Portugal Masters on Saturday.

Lewis returned a 10-under 61 in the third round, just 24 hours after Fisher carded the first 59 on the circuit. Lewis moved to two strokes behind leader Lucas Herbert of Australia.

Lewis acknowledged the thought of another 59 crept into his mind: ''It's something I noticed with three holes to go. I wasn't that bothered at the end of the day.

''I'm pleased that I shot 10 under par. I can only continue to make birdies and see what happens tomorrow.''

Herbert, who is playing off invites this season as he looks to earn his full tour playing privileges, shot a 64 for a 19-under total of 194.

Fisher took 10 more strokes than he did on Friday and was in a group on 14-under 199.

Sergio Garcia of Spain, trying to find form ahead of next week's Ryder Cup, was on 204 after a 68.

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Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 22, 2018, 7:25 pm

After grinding out a 68 on Friday, Tiger Woods is trying to get the lead all to himself in Round 3 at the Tour Championship. We're tracking him.

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Highlights: Tiger's seven Saturday birdies so far

By Nick MentaSeptember 22, 2018, 7:08 pm

Tiger Woods entered Saturday tied atop the board and wasted little time taking the outright lead at East Lake.

Woods moved clear of the field with this birdie at No. 1, whipping the Atlanta crowd into an early frenzy.

Following a 4-foot par save at the second, Woods moved ahead by two and reached 9 under par when he played this approach from 144 and sank this 8-footer for birdie at the third.

One hole later, Woods reached double digits at 10 under par when he poured in a bending 21-footer that just crept over the lip.

He made it four birdies in his first five holes when he bombed a 320-yard drive, wedged to 7 feet, and converted again.

He looked in danger of not capitalizing on his first crack at a par-5 after he came out of a fairway wood on his second shot, but a splash from the bunker and a make from 6 feet gave him his fifth circle in six holes.

He went Vintage Tiger at the seventh, playing this fairway bunker shot from 172 yards to 5 feet, setting up his sixth birdie in his first seven holes and advancing him to 13 under, five clear.

Looking to make the turn in 29, Woods instead missed the green at the par-3 ninth, failed to get up and down for par, and had to settle for 5-under 30.

Following pars at 10 and 11, he started looking this approach up and down at the 12th, leading to his seventh birdies of the day.