Grill Room debate: Favorite Augusta National tradition?

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 4, 2013, 2:00 pm

Favorite Masters tradition? You get to have your say by voting here. The Grill Room Gang offers its opinion below:

Champions Dinner – The Super Bowl MVP might get to look into a TV camera and shout 'I'm going to Disney World' to 500 million people worldwide, but there is nothing better in sports – in my mind – than winning the Masters and then having the honor of planning the following year's Champions Dinner. Surf and turf? A pizza party? Hamburgers and hot dogs? Nothing but desserts? Oh the possibilities! – Golf Guy

Green jacket – You can take the girl out of the fashion blog, but you can't take the fashion out of her blogs. Or, at least not when the clothing in question is the greatest fashion statement in golf – the green jacket. It signifies a belonging into golf's most elite club by way of either an Augusta National membership or a Masters victory. It's the one article of clothing that makes men – and women now, too – green with envy. It's a symbol of greatness and accomplishment, something that money can't buy. It's the one Masters tradition that will never go out of style. – Bailey Mosier

Limited commercial interruption – Hi, I'm Jason, and I'm a technoholic. I'm not afraid to admit that DVR has completely changed my television viewing habits – if I can avoid commercials, I do it. Before digital recording, I went to the fridge during commericials to grab an adult refreshment. Now I have the pause button for that. And as great as those new AT&T spots are with the cute kids, you can always check them out on YouTube. So in a way, I feel like the Masters is put on especially for me, and (channeling my inner T.O.) I love me some me. – Jason Crook

Amen Corner – A demanding par 4 (No. 11), a diabolical par 3 (No. 12) and the ultimate risk/reward par 5 (No. 13) add up to the best three-hole stretch in golf. Each hole holds countless memories and is always integral in deciding who will slip on the green jacket each April.

Larry Mize’s miracle chip-in on the 11th in 1987 to beat Greg Norman in a playoff. Fred Couples’ ball defying gravity and staying on the bank and out of the water on the 12th in 1992. And, of course, Phil Mickelson’s stunning approach in 2010 from the trees on the 13th as he marched to his third Masters title.

These are just three of many snapshots in my mind. Whether a player is making a charge or fading away, this iconic stretch is never lacking in drama. – Byron Fisher

The back nine on Sunday – It's not only when the Masters begins in earnest, it's when the golf season begins in earnest. Everything else is just a run-up.

Nine holes, each with its own brand of drama played out multiple times, as each contender passes through. Some holes are a matter of avoiding obvious danger – don't let your approach roll off the left side of the 10th green; don't challenge the front-left pond at No. 11; make sure you clear the water at No. 12. Others tempt with opportunity – the reachable par-5 greens at the 13th and 15th, the opportunistic Sunday pin position at the 16th.

In the best of times, the leaderboard will be jammed, the top spot passed back and forth among multiple contenders. Ultimately, only one will succeed, the others often seeing their dreams drowned on one of the five water holes on the back nine.

For me, the winning putt is bittersweet. Sure, it's the culmination of someone's finest day, but it also means it's over, and I have to wait another year to experience the best day in sports. Al Tays

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Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.

Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship

Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.

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Henley will try to put heat on Casey in final round

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:55 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – While it will be a tall task for anyone to catch Paul Casey at the Travelers Championship, the man who will start the round most within reach of the Englishman is Russell Henley.

Henley was in the penultimate group at TPC River Highlands on Saturday, but he’ll now anchor things during the final round as he looks to overcome a four-shot deficit behind Casey. After a 3-under 67, Henley sits at 12 under through 54 holes and one shot clear of the three players tied for third.

Henley closed his third round with a run of five straight pars, then became the beneficiary of a pair of late bogeys from Brian Harman that left Henley alone in second place.

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“Could have made a couple more putts, but to end with two up-and-downs like that was nice,” Henley said. “I felt a little bit weird over the shots coming in, put me in some bad spots. But it was nice to have the short game to back me up.”

Henley has won three times on Tour, most recently at the 2017 Houston Open, and he cracked the top 25 at both the Masters and U.S. Open. But with Casey riding a wave of confidence and coming off an 8-under 62 that marked the best round of the week, he knows he’ll have his work cut out for him in order to nab trophy No. 4.

“I think I can shoot a low number on this course. You’ve got to make the putts,” Henley said. “I’m definitely hitting it well enough, and if I can get a couple putts to fall, that would be good. But I can’t control what he’s doing. I can just try to keep playing solid.”

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Back from back injury, Casey eyeing another win

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:36 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Given his four-shot cushion at the Travelers Championship and his recent victory at the Valspar Championship, it’s easy to forget that Paul Casey hit the disabled list in between.

Casey had to withdraw from The Players Championship because of a bad back, becoming the only player in the top 50 in the world rankings to miss the PGA Tour’s flagship event. He flew back to England to get treatment, and Casey admitted that his T-20 finish at last month’s BMW PGA Championship came while he was still on the mend.

“I wasn’t 100 percent fit with the back injury, which was L-4, L-5, S-1 (vertebrae) all out of place,” Casey said. “Big inflammation, nerve pain down the leg and up the back. I didn’t know what was going on.”

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Thanks in large part to a combination of MRIs, back adjustments and anti-inflammatories, Casey finally turned the corner. His T-16 finish at last week’s U.S. Open was the first event for which he felt fully healthy since before the Players, and he’s on the cusp of a second title since March after successfully battling through the injury.

“We thought we were fixing it, but we weren’t. We were kind of hitting the effects rather than the cause,” Casey said. “Eventually we figured out the cause, which was structural.”

Casey started the third round at TPC River Highlands two shots off the lead, but he’s now four clear of Russell Henley after firing an 8-under 62 that marked the low round of the week.

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Bubba thinks he'll need a Sunday 60 to scare Casey

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:15 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Perhaps moreso than at most PGA Tour venues, a low score is never really out of reach at TPC River Highlands. Positioned as a welcome change of pace after the U.S. Open, the Travelers Championship offers a lush layout that often pushes the balance much closer to reward than risk.

This is where Jim Furyk shot a 58 on the par-70 layout two years ago – and he didn’t even win that week. So even though Paul Casey enters the final round with a commanding four-shot lead, there’s still plenty of hope for the chase pack that something special could be in store.

Count Bubba Watson among the group who still believe the title is up for grabs – even if it might require a Herculean effort, even by his standards.

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Watson has won the Travelers twice, including in a 2015 playoff over Casey. But starting the final round in a large tie for sixth at 10 under, six shots behind Casey, he estimates that he’ll need to flirt with golf’s magic number to give the Englishman something to worry about.

“My 7 under yesterday, I need to do better than that. I’m going to have to get to like 10 [under],” Watson said. “The only beauty is, getting out in front, you have a chance to put a number up and maybe scare them. But to scare them, you’re going to have to shoot 10 under at worst, where I’m at anyway.”

Watson started the third round three shots off the lead, and he made an early move with birdies on Nos. 1 and 2 en route to an outward 32. The southpaw couldn’t sustain that momentum, as bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 turned a potential 65 into a relatively disappointing 67.

“Bad decision on the par-3, and then a very tough tee shot for me on 17, and it just creeped into the bunker,” Watson said. “Just, that’s golf. You have mistakes every once in a while.”