Tuesday, April 30

PGA Tour Clears Vijay Singh in Doping Case

Vijay Singh will not be suspended for using deer antler spray. (dareneilert / Flickr)



PGA TOUR STATEMENT ON VIJAY SINGH:

The PGA TOUR Anti-Doping Program, which has been in effect since July 2008, closely follows the International Anti-Doping Standard set forth by the World Anti-Doping Agency (“WADA”) particularly as it relates to the interpretation and application of the List of Prohibited Substances and Methods.

In a Jan. 28, 2013 article that appeared on SI.com, Vijay Singh was quoted as admitting to his use of a deer antler spray supplement. Subsequently, Mr. Singh confirmed his use of deer antler spray in a statement he issued. Deer antler spray contains IGF-1, a growth factor listed on both the WADA and PGA TOUR Prohibited Lists, which the TOUR warned players about in August 2011. After the SI.com article came out, WADA also issued a warning about deer antler spray on Feb. 5, 2013.

There is no test for IGF-1 currently available in routine blood testing. However, the PGA TOUR Anti-Doping Policy provides that an admission to the use of a prohibited substance is a violation of the policy even if there is no positive drug test. After confirming the presence of IGF-1 in the deer antler spray product provided to the TOUR by Mr. Singh through tests at the WADA-approved UCLA laboratory, the TOUR proceeded with the matter as a violation of the PGA TOUR Anti-Doping Policy, and a sanction was issued. Mr. Singh subsequently appealed the sanction under the PGA TOUR Anti-Doping Program guidelines. During the appeal process, PGA TOUR counsel contacted WADA to confirm a number of technical points.

At that time, WADA clarified that it no longer considers the use of deer antler spray to be prohibited unless a positive test results. Indeed, on April 30, WADA subsequently provided written confirmation to the TOUR that:

“In relation to your pending IGF-1 matter, it is the position of WADA, in applying the Prohibited List, that the use of "deer antler spray" (which is known to contain small amounts of IGF-I) is not considered prohibited.

On the other hand it should be known that Deer Antler Spray contains small amounts of IGF-1 that may affect anti-doping tests.

Players should be warned that in the case of a positive test for IGF-1 or hGH, it would be considered an Adverse Analytical Finding.”

Based on this new information, and given WADA’s lead role in interpreting the Prohibited List, the TOUR deemed it only fair to no longer treat Mr. Singh’s use of deer antler spray as a violation of the TOUR’s anti-doping program.

Since his initial quote was made public, Mr. Singh has cooperated with the TOUR investigation and has been completely forthcoming and honest. While there was no reason to believe that Mr. Singh knowingly took a prohibited substance, the PGA TOUR Anti-Doping Program clearly states that players are responsible for use of a prohibited substance regardless of intent. In this regard, Mr. Singh should have contacted the PGA TOUR Anti-Doping Program Administrator or other resources readily available to players in order to verify that the product Mr. Singh was about to utilize did not contain any prohibited substances, especially in light of the warning issued in August 2011 in relation to deer antler spray.

Going forward, the PGA TOUR is committed to increasing its educational initiatives to remind players of the PGA TOUR Anti-Doping Program and the risk of utilizing any product without a full understanding of the ingredients contained in that product. Such educational initiatives will include reinforcing with its members the many resources available to them on a 24/7 basis to respond to any questions they may have concerning any product.

The PGA TOUR recognizes that the science of anti-doping is an ever evolving subject, and the TOUR will continue to work with its consultants and WADA to stay abreast of all current developments in this area. This will include staying abreast of developing policies and procedures, specifically with regard to testing for growth hormone and IGF-1. When fully implemented tests for those substances become available in routine blood testing, the TOUR will continue to monitor the situation and make changes to the policy as necessary or appropriate.

Monday, April 29

Billy Horschel Wins Battle of New Orleans

Billy Horschel
BILLY HORSCHEL CLAIMED HIS FIRST PGA Tour victory on Sunday at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Horschel, who has come close this season, broke through by firing a final-round 64, which tied the course record. It included a clutch 27-foot birdie putt at the 72nd hole to beat D.A. Points by a stroke. Kyle Stanley finished solo third.

"I read it right away," Horschel said about the winning putt. "I knew exactly the break on it and everything. ... And I was like, if it's my time, this putt needs to go in."

Horschel posted rounds of 67-71-66-64 for a 20-under total of 268. He played the last 45 holes in 18-under par, including six consecutive birdies in the fourth round.

"This is something that I've wanted since I've turned pro," Horschel said, "and I've always felt I was good enough to win out here. I just felt I had to check every box. Some guys get out here and win right away and then they struggle. Other guys it takes longer for them to get to that process.

"You know, I've had some injuries that hurt me and some other stuff and then I had to deal with my emotions a little bit better, but to finally get the first victory means a lot to me. There are a lot of people ... ever since I started playing golf from a little kid until now there's always been someone who has helped me in some way, whether it be big or small. They mean a lot to me. This win is for them too as well as for myself."

As PGATour.com reported, Horschel was ready to win. The 26-year-old Floridian has made 22 consecutive cuts and finished in the top 10 in his last three tournaments, including a T2 at the Shell Houston Open.

Now Horschel can exhale and let the career milestone sink in. His next start will be The Players Championship in two weeks.

Friday, April 26

Nearly 10,000 Enter 2013 U.S. Open

By USGA

THE UNITED STATES GOLF ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCED that it has received a record number of entries for the 2013 U.S. Open Championship at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa. The total of 9,860 entrants eclipses the previous mark of 9,086 for the 2009 championship at Bethpage State Park’s Black Course in Farmingdale, N.Y. Among the record total are 52 players, including 11 past champions, who are currently fully exempt into the field.

“The fact that we have a record number of entries, from across the world, is a testament to both the great appeal of the U.S. Open and the historic nature and grandeur of Merion Golf Club,” said USGA Executive Director Mike Davis.

“We look forward to both local and sectional qualifying, conducting the 2013 championship in the Philadelphia area and identifying this year’s United States Open champion.”

The U.S. Open will be held for the fifth time at Merion on June 13-16. To be eligible, a player must have a USGA Handicap Index® not exceeding 1.4, or be a professional. Local qualifying, which will be played over 18 holes at 111 sites in the United States, will take place between May 3-16.

Sectional qualifying, played over 36 holes, will be conducted at two international sites (May 27 in Japan and England) and on Monday, June 3, at 11 sites in the United States, ranging from New York to California. The USGA established two international sectional qualifiers in 2005.

Webb Simpson, the 2012 champion, and 10 other champions are fully exempt from having to qualify for the championship.

Brief Numerical History of U.S. Open Entries

11: Number of entries for the first U.S. Open at Newport (R.I.) Golf Club (in 1895)
131: Number of entries in 1912, the first year entries exceeded 100
319: Number of entries in 1924, the first year of sectional qualifying
1,064: Number of entries in 1928 (Olympia Fields), the first year entries exceeded 1,000
2,132: Number of entries in 1958 (Southern Hills), the first year entries exceeded 2,000
8,455: Number of entries in 2000 (Pebble Beach), the first year entries exceeded 8,000
9,048: Number of entries in 2005 (Pinehurst), the first year entries exceeded 9,000
9,860: Number of entries in 2013 (Merion), a U.S. Open record

Thursday, April 25

2013 Zurich Classic TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2013 ZURICH CLASSIC OF NEW ORLEANS is underway at TPC Louisiana in Avondale, Louisiana. Ricky Barnes is the clubhouse leader after firing a 64. The first round is still in progress.

Purse: $6.6 million
Winner’s share: $1.152 million
Defending champion: Jason Dufner

2013 Zurich Classic Leaderboard

The field
Tee times
The course
Tournament overview
Tour report
Zurich Classic website

TV SCHEDULE

TV coverage of the 2013 Zurich Classic is on Golf Channel and CBS. All times ET.

Thu, Apr 25
3:00-6:00p GOLF

Fri, Apr 26
3:00-6:00p GOLF

Sat, Apr 27
1:00-2:30p GOLF
3:00-6:00p CBS

Sun, Apr 28
1:00-2:30p GOLF
3:00-6:00p CBS

SIRIUS-XM PGA Tour broadcast times

Wednesday, April 24

'Shall We Make It a Shilling a Hole?'



JAMES BOND (SEAN CONNERY) AND AURIC GOLDFINGER (Gert Fröbe) certainly had a memorable golf match at Stoke Park Club in the Bond classic Goldfinger.

"Shall we make it a shilling a hole?" queried Bond.

Later...

Collecting on a golf bet can certainly be awkward.



I must say, though, that "Oddjob" is an apt name for a caddie-chauffeur-bodyguard.

(From the ARMCHAIR GOLF archives.)

Tuesday, April 23

Tianlang Guan: 'There's Wi-Fi in the Crow's Nest'

Tianlang Guan
PLAY IN THE MASTERS, CAUSE A STIR, get slapped with a slow-play penalty, do homework. Not exactly the life of your average eighth grader, but most certainly the life of Chinese amateur star Tianlang Guan.

Actually, homework is the one thing that's been normal for the 14-year-old. While away from home for the last month or so, Guan's parents have made sure the golf prodigy has kept up with his studies. Homework has been part of the daily routine except during the four tournament rounds at Augusta National Golf Club where he shot 73-75-77-75--300 to earn low amateur honors.

Guan is now in New Orleans for the Zurich Classic, in the field thanks to a sponsor's exemption. He hopes to play faster than he did at Augusta, where "the wind swirls ... so [it was hard] to make decisions in a quick time."

He'll keep working on his game and cracking open the books, just like he did at Augusta. Apparently, he's not one to make excuses about his golf or shirk the opportunity to study far away from home.

"There's Wi-Fi in the crow's nest," Guan said.

Follow Tianlang Guan on Twitter

Monday, April 22

McDowell 'Very Excited' About RBC Heritage Win

By Brian Keogh

Brian Keogh is a golf correspondent for The Irish Sun and a contributor to The Irish Times, Golf Digest Ireland and other golf publications. The following excerpt from Brian’s Irish Golf Desk is used with permission.

Graeme McDowell
WINNING, AS TIGER WOODS REMINDED US in that recent commercial, takes care of everything. In that regard, Graeme McDowell is no different to the world number one.

While 2012 was a good year for the Ulsterman in so many ways, his relief at claiming Woods’ World Challenge at Sherwood last December was palpable as it underlined the psychological importance of getting over the line in a game where you’re almost always a loser.

Claiming the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town in a play-off on Sunday was huge for the 33-year old in so many ways. Not only did he take care of two of his season’s ambitions in one go—a PGA Tour victory and a big move towards a re-establishing himself in the world’s Top-5 with a 10 place jump to eighth—he reinforced his belief that he’s on the right track mentally, physically and emotionally.

Having claimed the 2010 US Open at Pebble Beach, McDowell’s career has been all about proving that major win was no one-hit wonder. It’s a quest that goes on despite his stellar play since that memorable June evening on the Monterey Peninsula.

Getting into the final group at the US Open and The Open last year only to come away empty-handed hurt the affable Portrush man. Gaining some semblance of revenge over Webb Simpson for that runner-up finish in the US Open at Olympic Club last year will not have registered with him. What will have given him confidence was the way he drove the ball in the final round on Sunday night. After all, it was driving that undid him in the US Open last year.

Short-Game Improvement

A player with no major weaknesses in his game, McDowell has added a smidgen of length this season and also worked hard to improve his short game—especially his bunker play, his putting and his hybrids.

Those are the weapons that will bring him major number two but he admitted on Sunday night that getting some tangible feedback on those improvements means more than anything.

“To win Tiger’s event end of last year, unofficial, small field, blah, blah, I took a lot of confidence from that, also, because I had a solid season last year and got nothing from it,” said McDowell, who was fully aware thaT he had never won an event in an odd-numbered year until Sunday.

“So this is probably one of the more special ones in my career because it feels right. It feels good. My first real win on this side of the pond as a PGA Tour player. I feel this is building blocks for something good this year and beyond. I’m very excited about this.”

McDowell has never been in such a good place, either professionally or privately. Engaged to be married to fiancée Kristin Stape later this year, he has a solid on-course partner in the respected Mancunian caddie Ken Comboy, a reliable management team at Horizon and a raft of blue chip sponsors, including RBC.

Having recently decided to become a partner in a restaurant business near his Orlando base at Lake Nona, he kept his promise of a free bar at Nona Blue on Sunday night.

McDowell’s greatest asset, apart from charming personality and his ability to hit fairways, is his strength between the ears and his courage. He’s also smart enough to avoid obsessive behaviour that drives others to distraction. He’s hard with a soft-centre, which makes him one of the most popular players in the game.

Brian Keogh covers golf for The Irish Sun and contributes to a variety of golf publications. Pay him a visit at Irish Golf Desk.

Friday, April 19

James Driscoll Makes 7 Birdies for Boston

James Driscoll
JAMES DRISCOLL WAS PLAYING GOLF TODAY at Harbour Town Golf Links in the RBC Heritage, but his heart and mind were in Boston, his hometown. Driscoll has a Boston apartment that is two blocks from where bombs went off on Monday near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Driscoll has pledged $1,000 to The One Fund Boston for every birdie he makes on tour. The money will aid families affected by the tragedy.

From Brian Wacker at PGATOUR.COM:
Driscoll missed the cut at the RBC Heritage, but he made seven birdies in the process, including three on Friday. His efforts will continue next week in New Orleans. 
As much as he tried to concentrate on golf, Driscoll admitted that at times he couldn't help but think about his hometown, which was on lockdown as authorities were on a massive manhunt for one of the two suspects. 
"Before the round I was glued to the TV and the news," he said. "It's crazy when you watch the news. It's like you're watching a movie. It doesn't seem real. 
"I just hope they catch whoever did it and seek justice."
Driscoll shot 74 and 70 to narrowly miss the cut at Harbour Town. He has played in 11 events this season and has one top-10 finish, earning $307,208.

Thursday, April 18

2013 RBC Heritage TV Schedule and Tournament Notes



THE 2013 RBC HERITAGE is underway at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Brian Davis is the leader in the clubhouse after shooting a 6-under 65. The first round is still in progress.

Purse: $5.8 million
Winner’s share: $1.026 million
Defending champion: Carl Pettersson

2013 RBC Heritage Leaderboard

The field
Tee times
The course
Tournament overview
Interviews
Tour report
RBC Heritage website

TV SCHEDULE

TV coverage of the 2013 RBC Heritage is on Golf Channel and CBS. All times ET.

Thu, Apr 18
3:00-6:00p GOLF

Fri, Apr 19
3:00-6:00p GOLF

Sat, Apr 20
1:00-2:30p GOLF
3:00-6:00p CBS

Sun, Apr 21
1:00-2:30p GOLF
3:00-6:00p CBS

SIRIUS-XM PGA Tour broadcast times

Wednesday, April 17

Inbee Park Is New No. 1 in Rolex Rankings

Inbee Park (Allison)
YANI TSENG, STACY LEWIS AND NOW Inbee Park. It has been musical chairs in recent weeks at the top of the Rolex Rankings, otherwise known as the world golf rankings for the ladies. Park recently won the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the year's first major, and then slipped by Lewis on Monday. Lewis was on top of the world for a month.

"This is a very big day in my golf career," Park said at the LPGA Lotte Championship being played this week in Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii.

"I'm so happy to share it with my family, who are here in Hawaii with me. It's nice to reach this goal, but I know a lot of players are close to No. 1. It gives me something else to play for every week."

Lewis is not far behind in the points standings. Nor is Tseng, who was No. 1 for 109 weeks before Lewis knocked Tseng off the pedestal after two early season wins.

"Nobody else, though, can leave the event [LPGA Lotte Championship] with the No. 1 ranking, according to LPGA projections," wrote Randall Mell at GolfChannel.com.

Tuesday, April 16

The Jack-and-Arnie Hand-Painted Shoes

THESE ARE DIFFERENT. A PAIR of Jack-and-Arnie hand-painted shoes from Kikkor Golf. There is just one pair, available on eBay to the highest bidder. All proceeds will go to the charity of your choice.

Information from Kikkor Golf:
Perhaps the most epic shoe we have ever made, maybe even the most epic golf shoe ever made, the Limited Edition Kikkor Masterer is truly one of a kind (only one pair made!). Hand painted by Social Statement, it features two of golf’s most notable Masterers, Jack and Arnie, along with the unmistakable Masters Leaderboard, and unique Kikkor-Masterer branding.

Purchasing Info - 100% of the proceeds will go to the charity of your choice. You can bid on the item on eBay, or buy it outright now for the listed $5,000 USD.
Sizing Note - Pair is US men's size 9, but really are you going to play in these shoes? We suggest you keep them in the trophy case.
The current bid is $510. Bidding closes on April 17, 2013.

Click here to have a look on eBay

Monday, April 15

Adam Scott Puts a Green Jacket and Proud Nation on His Shoulders

A MASTERS VICTORY IS ENORMOUS. But a Green Jacket for an Australian? That's historic.

Adam Scott made history on Sunday evening at Augusta National Golf Club, defeating 2009 Masters champion Angel Cabrera on the second hole of a playoff to become the first Aussie to slip on the coveted Green Jacket. Scott, soft spoken and thoughtful, credited lessons learned from bitter near misses, his caddie Steve Williams, his father and the Australian poster boy of heartbreaking finishes in majors, Greg Norman.

"Australia is a proud sporting nation, Scott said, "and this is one notch in the belt we never got.

"It's amazing that it came down to me today. But there's one guy who inspired a nation of golfers, and that's Greg Norman. He's been incredible to me and all the great golfers. Part of this belongs to him."

And all of Australia rejoiced.

You don't just win for yourself as an Aussie. Especially if you're the first countryman to claim the Masters, which, inexplicably, had rolled along for more than 75 years without a champion from Down Under.

Australian newspapers showered Scott with praise like the steady spring rain that fell during his afternoon walk to an epic victory.

Sydney Herald

"IN AUSTRALIAN PANTHEON, SCOTT FIRST AMONG EQUALS"

"A DAY WHEN A NICE GUY FINISHES FIRST"
Decades of heartbreak were wiped away with the swipe of an elongated putter.

"FINAL FRONTIER ENDS DECADES OF HEARTBREAK"
Yes! Adam Scott has landed himself a new green jacket and the great white whale of Australian sport.

Herald Sun

"SCOTT RESTORES AUSSIE DIGNITY"
He has just scaled a monumental mountain, pushing past the bodies of countless countrymen who caved within sight of the summit, creating a wondrous slice of sporting history.

"SCOTT'S TIMELY BIT OF MAJOR KARMA"
Adam Scott has had his share of bad luck, particularly in major championships.

The Telegraph

"SCOTT FINISHES WHAT HIS IDOL STARTED"

The Courier-Mail

"AT LAST SCOTT SHOWS ROAR TALENT"
Urged to stir the tiger within, Queensland's Adam Scott unleashed a roar which echoed around the world yesterday.

Friday, April 12

Masters Slow-Play Penalty on Guan Is Ill-Timed



AMATEUR TIANLANG GUAN, THE 14-YEAR-OLD sensation from China, made the cut at the Masters despite being assessed a one-stroke penalty for slow play on the 17th hole. Guan and his playing partners Masters champion Ben Crenshaw and Mateo Manassero had been warned and put on the clock earlier in the round. Guan had received a first warning on the 13th hole.

Guan shot a 75 in windy conditions for a 36-hole total of 148, making the cut on the number. He was the only amateur to make the cut. Jason Day is the second Australian in two days to hold the lead at Augusta National. Day is 6 under after a 68. Fred Couples and first-round leader Marc Leishman are one shot back.

Here's the Masters statement on the Guan penalty:
Tianlang Guan was assessed a one-shot penalty for violation of Rule 6-7 of the Rules of Golf and the Tournament’s Pace of Play Policy. His group, which included Ben Crenshaw and Matteo Manassero, was deemed out of position on No. 10. Guan began being timed on No. 12 and received his first warning on No. 13 after his second shot. In keeping with the applicable rules, he was penalized following his 2nd shot on the 17th hole when he again exceeded the 40-second time limit by a considerable margin. 
-Fred Ridley Masters Tournament Competition Committee Chairman
Guan handled the small controversy with aplomb, saying in an interview during ESPN's coverage, "I respect the decision. This is what they can do."

I don't like the penalty.

By the letter of the law, I'm sure it's correct. But I also believe that discretion and judgment are involved. Is someone going to tell me that no other player or group has gotten out of position and exceeded their time at the Masters? Frankly, I would find that hard to believe. Would officials assess the same penalty to a name player, or to a tournament leader?

"This isn't going to wind up pretty, I don't think," Crenshaw said. "I'm sick. I'm sick for him. He's 14 years old."

It seems, well, small. It looks bad, not the time or the way to make a statement about slow play.

"The soft-coated answer would be I feel bad," Couples said, "but I also feel like they just don't go around handing out one-shot penalties here. I don't even know of anyone who has ever gotten one."

No such penalty has been assessed during the Masters, according to Augusta National spokesman Steve Ethun.

The youngest player to make the cut at the Masters, Guan will be around for the weekend. The Green Jackets should be extremely thankful.

Thursday, April 11

USA Today: Jack and Tiger Don't Talk Much

THE MASTERS IS UNDERWAY. ARNOLD PALMER, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player hit the ceremonial tee shots early this morning. Nicklaus spoke about Tiger Woods afterward.

This from USA Today:
"I never really had a conversation with Tiger that lasted more than a minute or two — ever," Nicklaus said Thursday morning after hitting the ceremonial tee shot. "He stayed away from me from a conversation standpoint. Never had a conversation on the Masters in general. I've said, 'Hello, how are you doing? Nice playing this year. You've played very well.' End of conversation. People ask me, 'Has Tiger ever talk to you about his record?' Never one word."
It hasn't bothered Jack, though.

"He's got his own focus and what he does, and I respect that," Nicklaus added. "I respect when somebody is involved in their deal. They concentrate on what they do and not what you did. That's OK. It's not my position to go talk to him about it. I respect that. I wouldn't intrude on that."

The Golden Bear has counseled other players on Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters, including Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Nicolas Colsaerts.

Woods is currently 2 under through 14 holes. Marc Leishman is the clubhouse leader after a 6-under 66.

Wednesday, April 10

2013 Masters TV Schedule and Tournament Notes




IT’S MASTERS WEEK, PATRONS! MAGNOLIAS, AZALEAS, Amen Corner, pimento cheese sandwiches and Chuck Norris-style security.

MASTERS NEED TO KNOW

Purse: $8 million
Winner’s share: $1.44 million (but they’re really playing for the Green Jacket)
Defending champion: Bubba Watson

2013 Masters Leaderboard

Masters field
Augusta National Golf Club
First and second round groupings and tee times
Masters photo gallery
Masters newsroom
Masters tournament information
Masters winners
Official Masters site

ARMCHAIR GOLF Masters Vault

Some Masters quotes.

"At my first Masters, I got the feeling that if I didn't play well, I wouldn't go to heaven."
Dave Marr

"If the Masters offered no money at all, I would be here trying just as hard."

Ben Hogan

"I miss, I miss, I miss, I make."
Seve Ballesteros, explaining four-putt green at 16

"I've never been to heaven, and thinking back on my life, I probably won't get a chance to go. I guess winning the Masters is a close as I'm going to get."

Fuzzy Zoeller

"I told Hord Hardin I was getting too old to play in the Masters, but he kept saying, Gene, they don't want to see you play, they just want to see if you're still alive."
Gene Sarazen

"On the fifteenth hole I started thinking how I'd look in the Green Jacket. The next thing I know, they're giving it to Charley Coody."

Johnny Miller 

TV SCHEDULE

Between ESPN, CBS and GOLF CHANNEL, hours and hours of TV coverage are scheduled for the 2013 Masters. Just turn on your TV. (All times are ET.)

Note: Sky Sports has the UK coverage.

Thu, Apr 11
3-7:30 p.m. ESPN (tournament action)
8-11 p.m. ESPN (tournament action)
GOLF CHANNEL:
Live from the Masters 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
Live from the Masters 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Fri, Apr 12
3-7:30 p.m. ESPN (tournament action)
8-11 p.m. ESPN (tournament action)
GOLF CHANNEL:
Live from the Masters 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
Live from the Masters 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Sat, Apr 13
3-7 p.m. CBS (tournament action)
GOLF CHANNEL:
Live from the Masters 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Live from the Masters 7-9 p.m.

Sun, Apr 14
2-7 p.m. CBS (tournament action)
GOLF CHANNEL:
Live from the Masters 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
Live from the Masters 7-9 p.m.

(Image courtesy of PGATour.com)

Tuesday, April 9

A Brief History of Augusta's Famous 15th

By John Coyne
Copyright © John Coyne. All rights reserved.

IN MASTERS HISTORY PERHAPS THE MOST famous hole is No. 15, named Firethorn, where in 1935 Gene Sarazen hit “the shot heard round the world.” Coming to No. 15, Sarazen was three shots behind Craig Wood, who was in the clubhouse being congratulated for his victory in the second ever Masters Tournament.

Gene Sarazen hit "the shot heard round the world."
Sarazen was playing with Walter Hagen, who drove first hitting the shorter of the two drives. Hagen laid up short of the pond on his second shot. At the time, the pond was little more than a ditch 20 yards in front of the green with a gentle bank to the putting surface. The hole was a par-5, 485 yards long.

David Sowell in his hole-by-hole history of the Masters, published in 2007, retells how Sarazen’s drive off the tee landed in the right-center of the fairway, leaving him 230 to the hole but in a bad lie. Sarazen pulled out a 4-wood because of the tight lie. This 4-wood was a new club, a Turfrider, which had a hollow-back sole enabling Sarazen to go down after the ball. Sarazen played the ball back in his stance and toed the head. As he came down, he cut slightly across it to give the shot additional loft.

The ball still came out low, but carried the narrow ditch. It hit the front of the green, bounced slightly to the left, and then ran up to the hole. Sarazen knew it was close, but it wasn’t until the gallery of some 22 patrons behind the green began to scream and yell that he realized it was in the cup for a double eagle. The famed sports writer, Grantland Rice, inflated the gallery to some 2,000 who gave out a “deafening reverberating roar” in his column the following day. Sarazen would hold on to tie Wood and the next day defeated him in a 36 hole playoff.

No one would ever make another double-eagle at No. 15, nor would the hole stay the same. In 1949, a real pond was created in front of the green, widening the 20-yard ditch, and the greenside slope was made steeper. In 1962, golf architect George Cobb again widened the pond.

There were other changes. Clifford Roberts in 1969 had mounds built on the right side of the fairway to diminish the amounts of roll players hitting a hook could achieve. But soon the advantages in driving distance made the mounds obsolete. Trees were planted and grew, making the need for other adjustments to No. 15 as well as all the holes at Augusta National.

Next, the hole was lengthened. In 1969, the tee was moved back 40 yards, yet the yardage was kept at 520.

Then in 1981, the official yardage was reduced to 500 yards.

In 2005, the tee was moved back 30 yards and 20 yards to the left. In ’06, it was extended seven yards. By 2011, it was listed at 530 yards.

This fascinating history of how Augusta National has been adjusted can be read about and seen on the www.golfdigest.com blog. Chris O’Riley, a computer artist, has drawn the changes for each hole going back to 1934 based on an article written by Ron Whitten entitled, “Change Orders.”

For Augusta National, I guess, the secret is never leave good enough alone.

Related: Augusta National and Doctrine of Deception

John Coyne is a bestselling author whose latest novel is The Caddie Who Won the Masters. Learn more at John Coyne Books.

Monday, April 8

Augusta National and Doctrine of Deception

By John Coyne
Copyright © John Coyne. All rights reserved.

Two Masters champions on practice day at Augusta National. (Keith Allison)







FOR ANYONE WHO HASN’T FOLLOWED its storied history, Augusta National Golf Club was originally a 365-acre indigo plantation. By 1857 it had become a plant nursery. At the height of the Depression the property was purchased by Bobby Jones, the brilliant amateur, and a friend of his named Clifford Roberts. Together they hired a Scottish golf architect, Alister Mackenzie, to design a course.

There were Americans they could have hired. But Bobby Jones didn’t want an American course which were, he felt, too constrictive. He wanted Mackenzie to design a golf course where every hole presented a problem or a puzzle, a greenside mound that had to be negotiated, or where there was trouble if you went too long.

Bobby Jones also wanted a course like St. Andrews in Scotland, with wide fairways, undulating greens, and bunkers that came into play only if a shot was mishit. He wanted a hole to look wide open from the tee and playable for any high handicapper; that was a hard par and a difficult birdie.

Jones also borrowed ideas from Sara Bay in Sarasota, Florida, a course built by Donald Ross with elevated greens that required pinpoint approach shots to the slopes and crowns.

Jones and Mackenzie created what today is called the Doctrine of Deception. Instead of a player seeing clearly that he had only one shot to get where he needed to go, they built a course where players would think they might have two or three chances and could therefore try a shot that was above their ability.

And that’s why the Masters Tournament is so thrilling. The winner is always the player who thinks he can pull off the impossible shot. And playing the impossible shot is the only way to win a Green Jacket.

That said, Augusta National has been a course that begs to be tinkered with. After its first tournament in 1934, the nines were reversed. Still Jones was not satisfied with his baby, nor was his co-founder, Clifford Roberts.

Down through the decades holes were altered to make them more of a challenge to the masters of the game, and also to improve viewing for patrons, as spectators are called at Augusta, and to keep up with golf’s new technology.

John Coyne is a bestselling author whose latest novel is The Caddie Who Won the Masters. Learn more at John Coyne Books.

Friday, April 5

The Golf Screw-Up Quotient

By Charles Prokop
Copyright © Charles Prokop. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

“Manage the screw-up quotient. That’s what life is. Deft management of the screw-up quotient.” (From Edisto Revisited by Padgett Powell)

Flickr image via dalechumbley
LATELY I HAVEN’T BEEN MANAGING the screw-ups very well. I keep turning mid to upper 70’s rounds into low to mid 80’s rounds by having just enough bad holes to wreck my score. I can look back at each round and say, “Here, here, and here are exactly where I messed up.”

My home course is pretty intolerant of screw-ups. It’s possible to (and I have) hit it out of bounds off of every tee. Most of the fairways are relatively narrow and this is the windy time of the year. The lies are tight due to the long drought we’ve experienced and it’s easy to find yourself dealing with tree trouble even if you haven’t hit it far off line. But you can manage your way around the course if you pay attention and don’t compound your errors.

When I’m scoring well I avoid doubles by giving some thought to my tee shots and playing recovery shots for what they area chance to manage the screw-up quotient. When I’m not scoring well I just bang away off the tee and then whack away at improbable miracle recovery shots. After a few of these management errors I flail harder to try to make up for it and there goes the round.

I know things are slowly getting better because I can spot the individual shots that wrecked my score. When I’m playing poorly I just have a generalized sense of bad golf, not specific recollections of bad shots. If I could just manage the screw-up quotient a little better, I’d have a chance to erase most of those doubles.

It also wouldn’t hurt if it would rain a little (at night, of course) and the wind would lie down.

Charles Prokop is a clinical psychologist who writes about golf at fairwaywords.

Thursday, April 4

VIDEO: Bubba Watson Plays With Right-Handed Clubs


FUN STUFF FROM ESPN GOLF. "Bubba's Day Off: Spray paint. Pull carts. Taking over a pro shop. Bubba Watson and Michael Collins didn't hold back."

I smiled watching Bubba Watson hit shots using right-handed clubs (from both sides of the golf ball, too) at Dubsdread Golf Course in Orlando. Bubba was outfitted with a rental set and a pull cart. I also enjoyed watching him answer phones and run the pro shop with Collins.

Tell me, how does someone turn a clubhead around and hit it like Bubba does? Amazing. I'm reminded of the massive talent that won the 2012 Masters in a sudden-death playoff from the pine straw.

Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 3

Kraft Nabisco Championship: 25th Anniversary of JUMP

Click for photo gallery.
THE 2013 KRAFT NABISCO CHAMPIONSHIP (KNC), the year's first major on the LPGA Tour, gets underway tomorrow at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California. Sung Young Yoo defends her title. Stacy Lewis, the new world No. 1 and the 2011 champion, is one of the favorites. Lewis already has two wins this season.

It's the 25th anniversary of "The Jump," the annual splash down by the KNC winner in Poppie's Pond. It all began with Amy Alcott in 1988. She was overcome with excitement and told her caddie Bill Kurre "let it rip." In they went, and the rest is history.

Well, sort of.

Juli Inkster won in 1989. Inkster didn't jump. Betsy King won in 1990. King didn't jump. But then it happened. Alcott won again. And jumped again. Some more non-jumpers followed, but by 1994 when Donna Andrews won, the tradition had caught on.

Photo gallery of 25th anniversary of The Jump. See all the jumpers in action.

TV Schedule

All coverage provided by Golf Channel.

Thur, Apr 4 - 12:00 PM-3:00 PM EST
Thur, Apr 4 - 6:00 PM-9:00 PM EST
Fri, Apr 5 - 12:00 PM-3:00 PM EST
Fri, Apr 5 - 6:00 PM-9:00 PM EST
Sat, Apr 6 - 5:00 PM-9:00 PM EST
Sun, Apr 7 - 5:00 PM-9:00 PM EST

Tuesday, April 2

These (American) Guys Are Good



IT MAY SEEM LIKE FLAG WAVING, but I'm noting the long streak of victories by U.S. players on the PGA Tour. To be honest, I hadn't even thought about it until I heard it mentioned the other night on Golf Channel.

"From the 77-time tour titlist Tiger Woods to the first-time winner Michael Thompson, the 2013 PGA Tour season has been a red-white-and-blue bonanza," wrote the New York Times' Karen Crouse. "With his weather-interrupted victory Sunday at the Houston Open, D.A. Points extended the streak of U.S.-born champions this season to 14, bettering a run of 13 consecutive American winners in 1989."

The year 1989 was nearly a quarter century ago, the beginning of the post-Cold War era. It reminds me how much things have changed, including in pro golf.

The Americans powering the current win streak are: Dustin Johnson, Russell Henley, Brian Gay, Tiger Woods (3), Phil Mickelson, Brandt Snedeker, John Merrick, Matt Kuchar, Michael Thompson, Scott Brown, Kevin Streelman and D.A. Points.

Points won in Houston on Sunday using his mom's Ping putter. One more thing borrowed from a mother that will never be returned.

Monday, April 1

New Putting Drill Has Tiger Primed for Masters

Steve Stricker isn't the only reason why Tiger Woods is putting better. (Courtesy of The Onion)








I KNOW THIS WILL AROUSE SUSPICION since today is April Fool’s Day. But I don’t consider it any more far-fetched than the daily hullabaloo about Tiger Woods, his new girl friend, his latest commercial, his short game, his you name it.

The new putting drill is pretty simple. You putt a large baby into its diaper. It can be a baby boy or a baby girl (pictured). It really doesn’t matter. Make sure the baby is face up and the diaper is clean.

Devised by an unnamed putting guru, there are a few key ideas behind the new drill:

1. It prevents your putting stroke from breaking down. The drill forces you to use the big muscles and follow through toward the target.

2. If you can get a baby rolling smoothly, then you can stroke any golf ball and master any putting surface with ease (including those notoriously slick greens at Augusta National).

3. It builds confidence.

For Tiger, it’s all about the process, and this drill is building the kind of putting confidence that helped him win four Green Jackets. Don’t be surprised if next week at Augusta National you hear Tiger say, “Get in there, baby!”

You’ll know why.

(From the ARMCHAIR GOLF archives.)