Rookies Set Early Pace in Augusta

By Mercer BaggsApril 5, 2001, 4:00 pm
Who needs course knowledge. Apparently not Chris DiMarco and James Driscoll. DiMarco, who played Augusta National for the first time three days ago, fired a 7-under-par 65 to grab the early clubhouse lead in the 65th Masters Tournament.
Just three shots back is Driscoll. The 2000 U.S. Amateur runner-up birdied three of his first four holes en route to a 4-under-par 68; one shot shy of the record for best Masters round by a first-year amateur.
Free Video - Registration Required James Driscoll talks about his round one 68
DiMarco is on pace to become the third consecutive Masters rookie to lead after 18 holes. Two years ago, Brandel Chamblee shot 69 to share the first-round lead. He then failed to break 70 over his next three rounds to finish in a tie for 18th. Dennis Paulson followed suit in 2000, shooting 68 to lead after Day One, only to card rounds of 76-73-72 to tie for 14th.
Not to slight Chamblee or Paulson, but DiMarco would much rather be in the company of Fuzzy Zoeller. Zoeller is the only player in the modern era to win the Masters in his first appearance (1979).
I dont think anybody expects me to win, DiMarco said, except me.
Free Video - Registration Required Chris DiMarco talks about his round one lead
Two days of rain softened the greens, making the course susceptible to red numbers. And under Thursdays ideal scoring conditions, DiMarco took advantage.
His round was highlighted by four birdies in a five-hole stretch beginning at the par-4 5th. After making the turn in 4-under-par 32, DiMarco played Amen Corner in 2-under, and then added one final birdie at the par-5 15th to finish his day at 7-under.
My strategy was to stay patient but still be aggressive in spots and do nothing crazy, said DiMarco, who recorded eight birdies and one bogey. My patience was good. I never got ahead of myself.
Twelve years after turning professional, DiMarco finally earned a spot in the elite Masters field by finishing 19th on last years PGA Tour money list.
2000 was a banner year for the 32-year-old Florida Gator. He collected his maiden victory at the SEI Pennsylvania Classic to go along with over $1.8 million in official earnings.
DiMarco has continued to produce in 2001. Hes made eight cuts in ten starts, including a pair of top-10 finishes. At last weeks BellSouth Classic down the road in Duluth, DiMarco shared the 36-hole lead, but shot 73-77 on a 36-hole Sunday to tie for sixth.
The BellSouth was really good because it got me ready for here, he said. It got me ready for the speed (of the greens).
The Masters greenhorn needed only 25 putts on the slick, yet damp, surface on Thursday.
Driscoll, too, admirably handled the pressure of competing in his first Masters. The 23-year-old birdied the 1st, 2nd and 4th holes to quickly move up the leaderboard. He then added his fourth birdie of the day at the par-4 9th to match DiMarcos front-nine 32.
Driscoll twice made bogey on the back nine, but on each occasion atoned with a birdie. First he dropped a shot at the par-4 10th, and then rebounded with a birdie at the par-5 13th. Then, after bogeying the par-5 15th, he birdied the par-3 16th.
Driscoll earned his invitation by finishing runner-up in the 2000 U.S. Amateur. He overcame a three-down deficit with three holes to play in the finals to force a playoff with Jeff Quinney. Darkness eventually suspended play after 38 holes of competition. The following Monday, Quinney took home the title by sinking a 30-foot birdie putt on the 39th hole.
No amateur has ever been awarded the green jacket. Frank Stranahan (1947), Ken Venturi (1956) and Charles Coe (1961) all earned the silver medal for second place.
Defending champion Vijay Singh was among those teeing off in the afternoon, as was overwhelming favorite Tiger Woods.
Full Coverage of the 2001 Masters Tournament
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Reed: 'Back still hurts' from carrying Spieth at Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 10:48 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Friday’s marquee match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, who are both undefeated in pool play, just keeps getting better and better.

Following his 1-up victory over Charl Schwartzel on Thursday, Reed was asked what makes Spieth, who defeated HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, so good at match play.

“I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, who teamed with Spieth at Hazeltine National.

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The duo did go 2-1-1 at the 2016 Ryder Cup and have a combined 7-2-2 record in Ryder and Presidents Cup play. Reed went on to explain why Spieth can be such a challenging opponent in match play.

“The biggest thing is he's very consistent. He hits the ball well. He chips the ball well. And he putts it really well,” Reed said. “He's not going to give you holes. You have to go and play some good golf.”

The winner of Friday’s match between Spieth and Reed will advance to the knockout stage.

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Reed vs. Spieth: Someone has to go

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 10:11 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – The introduction of round-robin play to the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was a necessary evil. It was needed to stem the tide of early exits by high-profile players, but three days of pool play has also dulled the urgency inherent to match play.

There are exceptions, like Friday’s marquee match between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, which is now a knockout duel with both players going 2-0-0 to begin the week in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

That the stars aligned so perfectly to have America’s most dominant pairing in team play the last few years square off in a winner-take-all match will only add to what promises to be must-see TV.

Sport doesn’t always follow the script, but the pre-match subtext on this one is too good to dismiss. In one corner, professional golf’s “Golden Child” who has used the Match Play to wrest himself out of the early season doldrums, and in the other there’s the game’s lovable bad boy.

Where Spieth is thoughtful and humble to the extreme, Reed can irritate and entertain with equal abandon. Perhaps that’s why they’ve paired so well together for the U.S. side at the Ryder and Presidents Cup, where they are a combined 7-2-2 as a team, although Spieth had another explanation.

“We're so competitive with each other within our own pairing at the Ryder Cup, we want to outdo each other. That's what makes us successful,” Spieth said. “Tiger says it's a phenomenon, it's something that he's not used to seeing in those team events. Normally you're working together, but we want to beat each other every time.”

But if that makes the duo a good team each year for the United States, what makes Friday’s showdown so compelling is a little more nuanced.

The duo has a shared history that stretches all the way back to their junior golf days in Texas and into college, when Reed actually committed to play for Texas as a freshman in high school only to change his mind a year later and commit to Georgia.

That rivalry has spilled over to the professional ranks, with the twosome splitting a pair of playoff bouts with Reed winning the 2013 Wyndham Championship in overtime and Spieth winning in extra holes at the 2015 Valspar Championship.

Consider Friday a rubber match with plenty of intrigue.

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Although the friendship between the two is genuine, there is an edge to the relationship, as evidenced by Reed’s comment last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he was denied relief on the 11th hole on Sunday.

“I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth, guys,” Reed said.

While the line was clearly a joke, Reed added to Friday’s festivities when he was asked what makes Spieth such a good match play opponent. “I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, a not-so-subtle suggestion that he carried Spieth at Hazeltine.

For his part, Spieth has opted for a slightly higher road. He explained this week that there have been moments in the Ryder Cup when his European opponents attempted some gamesmanship, which only angered Reed and prompted him to play better.

“I've been very nice to [Reed] this week,” Spieth smiled.

But if the light-hearted banter between the duo has fueled the interest in what is often a relatively quiet day at the Match Play, it’s their status as two of the game’s most gritty competitors that will likely lead to the rarest of happenings in sport – an event that exceeds expectations.

Both have been solid this week, with Speith winning his first two matches without playing the 18th hole and Reed surviving a late rally from Charl Schwartzel on Thursday with an approach at the 18th hole that left him a tap-in birdie to remain unbeaten.

They may go about it different ways, but both possess the rare ability to play their best golf on command.

“I’m glad the world gets to see this because it will be special,” said Josh Gregory, Reed’s college coach who still works with the world No. 23. “You have two players who want the ball and they aren’t afraid of anything. Patrick lives for this moment.”

 Where Reed seems to feed off raw emotion and the energy of a head-to-head duel, Spieth appears to take a more analytical approach to match play. Although he admits to not having his best game this week, he’s found a way to win matches, which is no surprise to John Fields, Spieth’s coach at Texas.

“Jordan gave us a tutorial before the NCAA Championship, we picked his brain on his thoughts on match play and how he competed. It’s one of those secret recipes that someone gives you,” Fields said. “When he was a junior golfer he came up with this recipe.”

Whatever the secret sauce, it will be tested on Friday when two of the game’s most fiery competitors will prove why match play can be the most entertaining format when the stars align like they have this week.

It was a sign of how compelling the match promises to be that when asked if he had any interest in the Spieth-Reed bout, Rory McIlroy smiled widely, “I have a lot of interest in that. Hopefully I get done early, I can watch it. Penalty drops everywhere.”

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Watch: Bubba casually hits flop shot over caddie's head

By Grill Room TeamMarch 22, 2018, 9:20 pm

We've seen this go wrong. Really wrong.

But when your end-of-year bonus is a couple of brand new vehicles, you're expected to go above and beyond every now and then.

One of those times came early Thursday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, where Bubba Watson’s caddie Ted Scott let his boss hit a flop shot over his head.

It wasn’t quite Phil Mickelson over Dave Pelz, but the again, nothing is.

And the unique warm-up session paid off, as Watson went on to defeat Marc Leishman 3 and 2 to move to 2-0-0 in group play.

Hey, whatever works.

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Spieth explains why he won't play in a 'dome'

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 9:01 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – No one at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was as excited about Thursday’s forecast as Jordan Spieth.

Winds blew across Austin Country Club to 20 mph, which is typical for this time of year in Texas, and Spieth put in a typical performance, beating HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, to remain undefeated entering the final day of pool play.

The windy conditions were exactly what Spieth, who never trailed in his match, wanted. In fact, demanding conditions factor into how he sets his schedule.

“I have, and will continue to schedule tournaments away from a dome, because it's just unusual for me. I like having the feel aspect,” said Spieth, who attended the University of Texas and played Austin Country Club in college. “Places with no wind, where it's just driving range shots, it's just never been something I've been used to. So I don't really know what to do on them.”

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Spieth used the CareerBuilder Challenge as an example. The Coachella Valley event rarely has windy conditions, and as a result he’s never played the tournament.

“I played in a dome in Phoenix, and I didn't strike the ball well there. Actually I've had quite a few this year, where we didn't have very windy conditions,” said Spieth, who will face Patrick Reed in his final pool play match on Friday. “I don't go to Palm Springs, never have, because of that. Look at where you can take weeks off and if they match up with places that potentially aren't the best for me, then it works out.”