Players are major Masters fans

By Rex HoggardApril 14, 2009, 4:00 pm
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2007 Verizon HeritageHILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. ' Steve Flesch signed for his final-round 67 to tie for sixth last Sunday and quickly picked his way through the crowd to the clubhouse, to a TV, to a comfortable seat and a cool beverage. Dark horse contender meet couch potato.
 
These guys are good, per the Ponte Vedra Beach marketing machine, but if this weeks sampling at Harbour Town Golf Links is any indication they are also good fans and no week on Tour crystallizes that point more than the Masters.
 
Watched every shot, said Charles Howell III, who missed his first Masters since 2001. Its the greatest tournament in the world, even if Im not playing in it.
 
In Howells case he didnt so much watch the years first major as much as he studied it. The kid that grew up on the other side of the fence at Augusta Country Club knows the place better than most and this years green-light Sunday was the way he remembered Augusta National.
 
It was nice to see the birdies being made again. It was not a U.S. Open slugfest, Howell said. Every fan knows what (No.) 13 is, what 16 is. They know 12. Ask a lot of fans what the 13th hole at Bethpage looks like, they dont know.
 
And CH3 wasnt alone. According to early reports, ratings were off about 3 percent for this years final round telecast but by all accounts the slump wasnt due to a lack of interest from the Tour rank-and-file.
 
With the exception of maybe only Davis Love III ' who marked his second Masters miss the same way he passed the time last year, turkey hunting in south Georgia ' if you didnt have a tee time at Augusta National you had a date with a remote control.
 
I dont miss a Sunday at Augusta National, said Charles Warren, who grew up 60 miles away in Columbia, S.C., and attended the event with his father from 1984 to 2001. Every time I see clips from 86 I still get chills.
 
Not only do Tour players watch, but some seem to have turned the telecast into an interactive affair, much like the rest of the couch potatoes in Americana.
 
I was yelling at everybody, smiled Jason Bohn. Dancing with the Stars has nothing on the Masters.
 
In a scene that could have occurred in any living room in America, Warrens talkback reached almost professional levels as Sundays final round moved along: My wife says I say exactly what the announcers say just before they do.
 
Players also inevitably end up with a rooting interest, with a friend moving into the hunt for a green jacket. Last year as Brandt Snedeker dueled with Trevor Immelman, normally reserved Brendon de Jonge, Snedekers long-time friend, became more vocal.
 
I was yelling at the TV, de Jonge said. I wont repeat any of the things that I said. But I always watch. Put football and golf on at the same time, Ill watch football. But all things being equal, Ill watch golf.
 
John Mallinger was on vacation last week in Mexico but made sure to TiVo Sundays final round, which featured friend John Merrick roaring to a closing 66 in his first Masters.I watched the back nine, which is the most important part, Mallinger smiled.
 
Of course, Tour players ' by a nature a curious lot with critical eyes ' cant resist the urge to bring out their inner Johnny Miller, particularly on a Sunday that featured almost as many momentum changes as birdies. And on Tuesday at Harbour Town conversations all seemed to begin and end with the Masters.
 
I watched the 18th hole (first playoff hole) thinking Chad (Campbell) has the biggest green light ever after Kenny (Perry) hit his second short and (Angel) Cabrera was in trouble, said Ryan Palmer, a friend of Campbells. For a draw-ball hitter (like Campbell) that was just perfect.
 
For Warren, the return of the roar on Sunday was no surprise. In January, he and Lucas Glover took a scouting trip to Augusta National and heard rumblings officials planned to shorten some tees and play particularly accessible pins on Sundays.
 
The best thing you can say about Augusta is you can have the toughest tough day and easiest easy day, Warren said. Theres a hole location on every hole where you can see balls getting close or holes in one. (No.) 16 is the perfect example. If you get in the right slot with anything close to the right speed its going to be close.
 
On Tuesday, 48 hours removed from the final-round fireworks, Flesch, the fan, was still buzzing like a crazed college student: That was cool.
 
Spoken like a true fan.
 
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    DJ triples last hole, opens with 76 at Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 6:18 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Dustin Johnson’s chances of winning The Open are likely already over.

    The world No. 1 hit his tee shot out of bounds on 18 on his way to a triple bogey, capping a miserable day that left him with a 5-over 76, 10 shots off the lead and in danger of missing the cut.

    Johnson didn’t talk to reporters afterward, but there wasn’t much to discuss.

    He didn’t make a birdie until the par-5 14th, bogeyed 16 and then made 7 on Carnoustie's home hole when his tee shot caromed out of bounds left.

    Johnson has missed the cut only once in nine previous appearances at The Open – in his first try in 2009.

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    'The Golf Club 2019' adds Elvy to commentary team

    By Nick MentaJuly 19, 2018, 4:45 pm

    “The Golf Club 2019” is adding a new name to its commentary team.

    Broadcaster Luke Elvy will join returning announcer and HB Studios developer John McCarthy for the title's third installment.

    Golf fans will recognize Elvy from his recent work with CBS in addition to his time with Sky Sports, FOX Sports, TNT, PGA Tour Live and PGA Tour Radio.

    A 25-year media veteran from Australia, he now works in the United States and lives with his family in Canada.

    "Ian Baker-Finch was my right-hand man on Australian televison," Elvy told GolfChannel.com in an interview at the Quicken Loans National. "And Finchy said to me, 'What are you doing here? You should be with me in the States.’ He introduced me to a few people over here and that's how the transition has happened over the last five or six years."

    Elvy didn't have any prior relationship with HB Studios, who reached out to him via his management at CAA. As for why he got the job, he pseudo-jokes: "They heard the accent, and said, 'We like that. That works for us. Let's go.' That's literally how it happened."

    He participated in two separate recording sessions over three days, first at his home back in February and then at the HB Studios shortly after The Players Championship. He teased his involvement when the game was announced in May.

    Although he doesn't describe himself as a "gamer," Elvy lauded the game's immediate playability, even for a novice.

    “It’s exactly how you’d want golf to be,” he said.

    "The Golf Club 2019" will be the first in the HB series to feature PGA Tour branding. The Tour had previously licensed its video game rights to EA Sports.

    In addition to a career mode that will take players from the Web.com Tour all the way through the FedExCup Playoffs, "The Golf Club 2019" will also feature at launch replicas of six TPC courses played annually on Tour – TPC Summerlin (Shriners Hospitals for Children Open), TPC Scottsdale's Stadium Course (Waste Management Phoenix Open), TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course (The Players Championship), TPC Southwind (FedEx St. Jude Classic/WGC-FedEx St. Jude Championship), TPC Deere Run (John Deere Classic), and TPC Boston (Dell Technologies Championship).

    “I played nine holes at Scottsdale,” Elvy added. “It’s a very close comparison. Visually, it’s very realistic."

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    Expired visa, helicopter, odd clubs all part of Vegas' journey

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 3:48 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jhonattan Vegas thought someone was playing a practical joke on him.

    Or maybe he was stuck in the middle of a horror movie.

    Scheduled to leave for The Open a week ago, he didn’t arrive at Carnoustie until a little more than an hour before his first-round tee time Thursday.

    “Even if somebody tried to do that on purpose,” he said, “you couldn’t really do it.”

    The problem was an expired visa.

    Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.

    No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.


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    Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.

    His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time.

    One more issue? His clubs never made it. They were left back in Toronto.

    His caddie, Ruben Yorio, scrambled to put together a new bag, with a mismatched set of woods, irons, wedges and putter.

    “Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”

    He hit about 20 balls on the range – “Luckily they were going forward” – but Carnoustie is one of the most challenging links in the world, and Vegas was working off of two hours’ sleep and without his own custom-built clubs. He shot 76 but, hey, at least he tried.

    “It was fun,” he said, “even though the journey was frustrating.”

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    'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

    By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

    Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

    “The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”


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    Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

    The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

    “That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”