Breakfast Ball, 4/8: Masters Week Off to a Soggy Start.

April 8, 2014 in Breakfast Ball

AP

The Monday of Masters week didn’t go too well for those patrons on the property with one day badges. Luckily for those patrons, Augusta National has guaranteed them the opportunity to buy badges for next year’s Monday practice round, along with a refund of this year’s ticket price.

Unluckily for them, they’ll have to wait another year to get back on the hallowed grounds. However, for the rest of us, I’m pretty sure we’d all trade a washed away Monday for the weather that’s being predicted for the rest of the week.

Gates opened at 8am yesterday and closed at 10am due to the giant cell of thunderstorms moving through the middle of the country. By 12:35pm, the club made it official and barred anyone — player or patron — from getting back on the course.

With that behind us, though, there’s nothing but blue skies and unfulfilled dreams ahead. Speaking of unfulfilled dreams, the largest contingent of first-timers will be teeing it up in the Masters this week. You’ve probably heard and will continue to hear that no first-time Masters participant has won the green jacket in his first tournament since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.

However, given this year’s trend of first-time winners — there have already been eight on the PGA Tour this season — and the amount of them in the field (24, 17 of which are pros), this year seems as likely as any to produce a rookie Masters champion. Considering some of the names that fit the bill — Harris English, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth, Billy Horschel, Graham DeLaet, Victor Dubuisson and Jimmy Walker — hardly any would be a monumental surprise.

According to the guys out in Vegas, first-timers most likely to break through are Spieth (30/1), English (40/1), DeLaet (50/1), Reed (50/1) and Walker (50/1)*. While it’s hard to pass on roughly a quarter of the field, until the trend is bucked, it’s still a trend and as you’ll see tomorrow when our picks are released, first-timers will find themselves in the Show ‘Em Something list.

*All betting odds come from golfodds.com (LVH) and bovada.lv.

Charlie Riedel / AP

Speaking of gambling odds, another storyline is the Aussie contingent this week. Headlined by defending champion Adam Scott, the men from Down Under number seven and, with the exception of amateur Oliver Goss, all are heading into Augusta with the confidence that they could become the second Aussie to slip on the green jacket.

AScott has been getting the star treatment, especially given he will host the Champions Dinner tonight, but Jason Day is coming in as the not-so darkhorse pick of many a pundit.

The 26-year-old Day is coming off of a six-week layoff resulting from some bad tendinitis in his left thumb. At his pre-tournament press conference on Monday, Day explained that he got a cortisone shot into the base knuckle of the thumb two weeks ago and has “full confidence” in the digits ability to hold up over four rounds of major championship golf.

After Scott and Day, a host of recent winners in Matt Jones, Steven Bowditch and John Senden populate the tee sheet. As first-timers, again, they won’t be expected to do much, but be wary of the confident golfer. All three are in form and ready.

But our pick of the week? Marc Leishman. You can get 12/1 odds on the big Aussie to finish as low Australian and methinks it’s a good gamble. Given Scott’s recent struggles with the long/flat stick and Day’s rust from six weeks away from competitive golf, Leishman doesn’t only seem like a sneaky good pick to go low Aussie, but to contend. You know, like he did last year.

A Moreton Bay bug (Morsels & Musings)

Last things last today, let’s go back to that Champions Dinner thing. Adam Scott, being the kindly gent that he is, isn’t guarding the menu like it’s some kind of state secret like some past champs have done (*cough*Bubba*cough*). Instead, he released an idea of what the menu will be ahead of time so guys like, I don’t know, Bubba, can save some room for the Wendy’s on Washington Rd. after the meal. From the Sporting News

And now for something completely different: Adam Scott has made known his entree for Tuesday’s former championship dinner before the Masters. Say hello to Moreton Bay bugs.

Before you conjure up images of Crocodile Dundee and a big pot of steaming insects, Scott’s choice is more upscale than it sounds.

In a salute to the home folks back in Brisbane, Scott picked a local favorite. According to reports from Down Under, a Moreton Bay bug is a flat-headed lobster that takes its name from the body of water that borders the city.

Rather skip to the dessert? Scott’s choice is pavlova, a meringue dessert with a crisp crust and soft, light inside. It’s from Australia New Zealand but takes its name from a Russian dancer. A simple recipe, it is topped with kiwi, pomegranate or other fruit.

I think I may be with Bubba on this one. Two JBCs, no tomato, please.

For some reading today, we’ll stick with the first-timer theme. Ian O’Connor of ESPN.com files this report on Augusta State alum and WGC-Cadillac Championship champ, Patrick Reed.

Long before he announced to the planet last month that he is among its top five golfers, inspiring a scaled-down version of the storm Richard Sherman kicked up after the NFC Championship Game, Reed was known for projecting a vibe of superiority and for doing too much talking for his own good. “He shot his mouth off early on when he shouldn’t have,” said Henrik Norlander, Reed’s teammate at Augusta State.

“All I asked him to do was keep his mouth shut and play golf and let his golf clubs do the talking for him,” Gregory said. “It was the only way for him to earn the respect of his teammates.

“Patrick was on his final strike, and he knew that. If he didn’t shape up, he couldn’t go anywhere else. Even if he made the tour at that point, maturity-wise he would’ve gotten eaten up. I told him he was never going to make it if he didn’t get things under control.”

Yes, Patrick Reed eventually got things under control. He showed up at Augusta National on Monday saying he’d wear red again in the final round in honor of his idol, Tiger Woods, whose absence here isn’t the only reason the 23-year-old Reed might win the first major in which he’s ever competed. His victory at Doral in the WGC-Cadillac Championship was his third in seven months, notarizing his staggering belief in himself (think Ian Poulter’s ego on steroids) and encouraging him to see contention on Sunday’s back nine as a realistic endgame.

Good read.

***And before I forget, if you’re interested in doing a Masters pool, shoot me an e-mail with your information and I’ll get back to you right away. Thanks.****

As for a video, how about this from CNN’s “Living Golf” on the first Dr. Alister Mackenzie’s road to Augusta.


Breakfast Ball, 3/4: Could Adam Scott Supplant Tiger at No. 1?

March 4, 2014 in Breakfast Ball

The four reigning major champions at Seminole's Pro-Member. (@justinprose99)

The four reigning major champions at Seminole’s Pro-Member. (@justinprose99)

To see all four major champons in the same field for the first time in 2014 all you needed to do was be a member at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Fla. or one of the best players on the planet. That’s it.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Member-Pro event down at Seminole, the annual event draws quite the field that aside from defending major champions Phil Mickelson, Jason Dufner, Justin Rose and Adam Scott (right), also lured the likes of Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els, Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan, Arnold Palmer, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Dustin Johnson, among others.

To understand the aura that surrounds the event Geoff Shackelford elegantly sets the scene:

The Seminole Member-Pro–think Tavistock Cup without the helicopters but with no shortage of Tanqueray and a surprising number of grown men with names that sound like 19th Century book publishers wearing pastel shorts and loafers with no socks–was played Monday at the Donald Ross masterpiece and it marked the first and only gathering of 2013′s four major champs: Adam Scott, Justin Rose, Phil Mickelson and Jason Dufner.

Prior to this week’s WGC Cadillac Championship, no event has featured more than two of the major champions in a field so far in 2013-14, so it was a nice occurrence. As is the case with all of those prestigious clubs down there where PGA Tour players call home, GolfWorld senior writer and Golf Channel contributor Tim Rosaforte is the preeminent source of information for us plebeians.

In the northeast corner of the Seminole locker room is a piece of mahogany with names that date to 1937. Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Jimmy Demaret and Arnold Palmer won this event, as did Bing Crosby, with Gardner Dickinson as his partner. As Lee Westwood said hitting putts before the third round of the Honda, “Everybody wants their name on the board for the Seminole Pro-Member. It’s a Who’s Who.”

The name on the wall is just part of what this is all about. “The tradition, the history, the people there — it’s such a good vibe,” said Graeme McDowell. “The first year I played there, I don’t think could conceive the magnitude of it, when you see Nicklaus, and Palmer and all these legends of the game, plus having the mystique of Hogan kind of just there. There are just so many good people, obviously powerful people, but that’s [secondary]. It’s just such a phenomenal golf course.”

This is not for charity or a corporate sponsor. This is about playing a Donald Ross masterpiece along the Atlantic, and as McDowell alluded, having the Seminole experience.

As for yesterday’s results, Rex Hoggard reports that everyone’s favorite Rory (؟Sabatini؟) won the gross division along with partner Hugh Kenworthy in a scorecard playoff over Roberto Castro and playing partner Russell Ball.

As for the major champs, Mickelson was the low man with a 67, Dufner shot 68 and Rose and AScott put up matching 71s.

Speaking of Adam Scott, the defending Masters champion is teeing it up this week for the second consecutive tournament. However, there’s more at stake this week than the $1.62 million pay day, namely the world rankings’ top spot. GolfChannel.com’s Ryan Lavner explains the math:

Adam Scott likely would move to world No. 1 for the first time in his career if he wins this week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship and Woods finishes outside the top 5-7, according to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robison. An official projection will be released later this week.

Scott would need a minimum of 60 points to pass Woods in the rankings; last week’s Honda Classic awarded 60 points for the winner, and this week’s WGC field is stronger. Last year, Woods earned 74 points for the Doral win, while Justin Rose received 78 in 2012.

If Scott won, he would have 10.16 average points. Woods, currently at 10.04, would need to earn 14 world-ranking points to overtake that number. Last year, a top-6 finish earned 14 points.

Picking a winner at Doral this week is a crapshoot with the new renovations being unveiled for the first time (we’ll get into the changes a bit more tomorrow), but long and straight is always a good bet. Add into the mix that Tiger still isn’t sure whether he can play or not because of that strained back and Woods could find himself back in the pack in the OWGR for the first time since winning Bay Hill last year.

So, does Adam do it this week? It’s definitely hard to say, but he could do it. Scott, like Woods and McIlroy before him, sticks to the script that winning takes care of everything. World rankings are a result of stellar play, so there’s no point to putting too much stock into the number next to your name. Still, I find it hard to believe that it’s not a little bit of an incentive.

Like Woods, Scott is trying to play himself into shape heading into Augusta, but unlike Woods, Scott seems a little more consistent with everything he’s doing.

BarstoolSports.com

Piggybacking off of Tiger possibly losing his top ranking comes the question about his health. Again.

Of course, Tiger gets a rash of criticism for walking off the course with five holes to play, despite being in obvious pain stemming from an injury that has hampered him before. On the bright side, if history holds up, Tiger is done WDing this season. In the past five years, he’s withdrawn four times, which is not uncommon for 38-year-old professional golfers.

People like to call Tiger “an old 38,” “a tired 38,” or my personal favorite, “a hard 38,” but that fact is that golf is not a natural movement. Sure, neither is football, but it takes a special kind of crazy to play that game. Bad backs are the price people pay to play golf.

Will Woods have chronic problems with his back for the rest of his career? That’s impossible to say, but it shouldn’t be surprising if it flares up again. There was a lot of social media chatter yesterday opining on how to best work out for golf and avoid injuries. Yoga got a lot of love, as did core building and cross fit. Tiger’s thing is weight training and that’s a practice known to cause problems. Will he succumb to pressure to back off the weights? Again, impossible to say, but the visual of Tiger doing yoga fascinates me and takes my mind to this place.

Anyway, we should find out tomorrow if he’s actually going to give it a go this week. I find it hard to believe it would be worth the risk on a new golf course that he hasn’t seen. The Masters is just over a month away. We know what he’s aiming towards and how important it is to him, so why press the issue? Bay Hill is in two weeks. Why not rest, rehab and try to regain his top ranking then? You know, because AScott is going to win this week.

I’m having a pretty productive day so far, so we’ll cut it here and move onwards and upwards, as Rory would say.

Find something to read by yourself. In the aftermath of the Oscars, here’s the Best Actor in a Leading Role, Matthew McConaughey, talking about his obsession with golf.


Dan Patrick Tried on Jack Nicklaus’ Green Jacket

March 8, 2013 in Golf

During his typical run down of the major sporting stories at the top of each hour, Dan Patrick touched on the leaderboard at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship, specifically Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.

Patrick, an avid golfer himself, routinely weighs in on golf and has guests leading up to and following major championships. With his own golf simulator in his studio, Patrick can be seen during the simulcast of the popular nation-wide radio show pounding balls at commercial breaks (as long as he isn’t recovering from shoulder surgery).

Given his stature in the sporting world and love for the game, it should come as no surprise that Patrick has been invited to play at Augusta National, the site of the year’s first major, which is just 33 days away.

Often, Patrick will go out on tangents and tell stories about his experiences in and around the world of sports. Luckily for golf nuts, today he delved into his trip to the National, which included nuggets about happening upon the Champions Locker Room and slipping into Jack Nicklaus’ Green Jacket.

Consider this your weekly update that the Masters is right around the corner.

Rounding Up Bubba Watson’s Media Tour

April 12, 2012 in Golf

The Tour Report

Bubba signing one of his pink drivers

Whenever there’s a major sporting event, whether it be golf with the majors, baseball with the World Series, basketball with the NCAA National Championship or NBA Finals, the winner/winning team takes a tour around the national media outlets.

With his win at the Masters, Bubba Watson was everywhere  you looked earlier this week and not just the places you would expect. Sure, Bubba put in the time with the folks at Golf Channel’s Morning Drive (one of the best interviews there was), but also on Fox News, CNN and even Charlie Rose.

In case you haven’t gotten your Bubba fix yet, here’s a short run-down of what and where Watson spent his Tuesday and Thursday of this week. If you’re not really interested in what he said in each interview, PGATour.com’s Tour Report did a good job of giving a blow-by-blow of Watson’s whirlwind 36 hours. Be sure to read Day 1 and Day 2 (and read from the bottom-up).

For the sake of organization, I’ll put Bubba’s appearance in as much of a chronological order as possible.

  • Bubba kicked things off by surprising the fellas at Morning Drive by coming in studio to talk to them before shipping off to NYC. 
  • Before getting on the plane to New York, Bubba called into the Dan Patrick ShowJim Rome and the Scott Van Pelt Show
  • From there, Bubba hopped on a plane to New York where he met with Twitter celebrity Darren Rovell. 

 

  • Watson went from CNBC, to CNN to make a special appearance on Piers Morgan Tonight where the talk-show host said he had one of his favorite interviews. Here’s a little snippet.

  • Bubba went from Piers’ studio to Ed Sullivan Theatre to hop on the Late Show with David Letterman for a pretty entertaining interview.

  • After Letterman, Bubba just had one more phone call. Nothing important, really, just the POTUS. In typical Bubba fashion, when Obama got on the phone and said, “Hey, Bubba,” Watson answered with “Hey buddy, how you doing? I mean Mr. President.”
  • On Wednesday, Watson started his day going to “CBS This Morning.”

  • From there, Bubba went over to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” which is hosted by Joe Scarborough who is from the Florida Panhandle, near where Watson grew up in Bagdad, Fla. 
  • After “Morning Joe,” Bubba hooked up with PBS’ Charlie Rose at the Bloomberg Building and talked to the famed interviewer about how he connects with the average American.
  • Rounding out his 36-hour interview fest, Watson went to the Time Warner Building for two final interviews with Fox News. Before he leaves to go home, the guy who had been leading Watson from place to place told him that he has never seen so many people come out to meet one guy, a nod to the “everyman” that Watson was.

Watson, who was active on Twitter throughout his media tour tweeted out around 1:45 Wednesday that he had finally finished his tour and was heading home to be with Angie (his wife) and Caleb, their new son.

Aside from all the television and radio, Bubba made the cover of a few magazines, including Sports Illustrated.

Watson will be back in action in two weeks when he defends his title at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

You Can Have Bobby Jones’ Green Jacket for a Small Fortune

July 8, 2011 in Golf

Few names, if any, inspire the level of interest around the golfing world as that of Bobby Jones. The only man in the history of the game to win the Grand Slam; the founder of Augusta National golf club; and arguably one of the greatest golfers ever to put on a pair of spikes.

Coming in early August, anyone can own a piece of history. Namely, Mr. Jones’ green jacket.

Heritage Auctions, who will be putting on the sale of the jacket, expects to earn upwards of $100,000 dollars for the jacket.

“In the realm of golf, Jones’ name reigns supreme,” Chris Ivy, director of Heritage Sports Collectibles, said in a statement.

The two-button jacket is made of wool and has the initials “ANGC” embroidered on the left breast along with the long-standing logo of the Masters. Also, on the inside of the pocket, “RTJ” is sewn, of course, standing for Robert Tyre Jones.

The jacket dates back to 1937 when the members of the Augusta National Golf Club began wearing the green jackets in order to distinguish themselves to the patrons in case anyone had any questions about the grounds. It’s amazing how that has changed over the years.

Today, if a patron were to see someone in a green jacket, they wouldn’t be able to near them because they would be in some roped-off members only section of the golf course.

The green jacket, as you all very well know, is only given out to the winners of the tournament and the members. The green jackets aren’t even allowed to leave the property of Augusta National except for one year following the winning of the tournament. So that gives you an idea of how rare having one of these jackets outside of Georgia is.

To my knowledge there is only one other jacket that hangs outside the National’s grounds and that belongs to Gary Player who took his green jacket back home to South Africa after winning the tournament and never brought it back.

The Augusta Chronicle reported that the jacket was given to an artist who painted a picture of Jones that now hangs in the Augusta National Clubhouse. Many believe that arist to be Thomas Stephens for the famous painting seen to the left.

However, whether or not it was Stephens who received the jacket, the artist has since sold the jacket. To prove its authenticity, the jacket comes with a notarized letter that traces the ownership of the jacket back to Jones. Also, former club photographer Frank Christian wrote a letter of authenticity that stated the jacket was the same style as those of the era.

So there you have it. Bidding begins on August 4 and will no doubt be an incomparable collectors item to some insanely wealthy golf fanatic.