Archive for April, 2010

Nathan Green’s first Masters crystalized with hole-in-one

Nathan Green won’t be going home empty-handed after all. In fact, he’ll be loaded down with crystal.

The 34-year-old Australian, who was playing in the first group in the final round of the Masters Sunday, recorded the first hole-in-one of the tournament on Sunday. His 6-iron shot to the middle of the green on the 176-yard, par-3 16th hole took the route of Tiger Woods’ famous chip shot and rolled into the cup while fans were still finding seats.

“The noise was much louder than you expect with so many empty seats,” said Green, who would finish his fourth round before the leaders teed off. “It was nice. I had some good stuff happen for me today. So I’m happy leave with some good Masters memories.”

He’ll also be hauling some crystal. The Masters awards two crystal goblets for every eagle recorded during the tournament and a large crystal bowl for a hole-in-one.

The ace represented Green’s two-under-par hole of the day. He also tapped in a short putt on the par-5 13th for an …

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Few eagles to be had

AUGUSTA – If the golfers want to go low today, the par 5s aren’t helping them.

There have been just three eagles today, and one of them was Nathan Green’s hole in one on No. 16 and the other Adam Scott’s brilliant iron on the par-4 on No. 7.

The only other traditional eagle came on the par-5 13th.

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Two rarities on Sunday

AUGUSTA — An hour after Nathan Green aced the par-3 16th, fellow Australian Adam Scott eagled the par-4, 450-yard 7th.

The pin on the 176-yard 16th is tucked back-left, allowing the ball to funnel down. Green did just that, planting his 6-iron tee-shot  firmly in the middle of the green, where it slowly but determinedly tracked its way to the hole for the first hole-in-one this week. He finished 14-over.

The 16th has yielded 11 aces in the previous 73 Masters.

Scott’s feat was more rare: just 10 players have navigated the hole in 2-under in Masters history.

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SNL takes on Woods

Saturday Night Live had fun at Tiger Woods’ expense last night:

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Where will Woods play next?

AUGUSTA — Tiger Woods has yet to announce when he will play again after the Masters.

The only clue he has provided is that he has said he’s going to be spend as much time as he can with his family to try to repair the damage done by his many infidelities.

Before his recent troubles, during the past five years Woods has either taken two weeks off or taken two months off before he returned to competitive golf after playing Augusta National. He took long breaks in 2008 because of his injured knee and in 2006 because his father, Earl, was gravely sick.

When there haven’t been extenuating circumstances, Woods has returned to competitive golf at Quail Hollow, located outside of Charlotte. This year’s event starts April 29. In 2009 he finished fourth at the event, in 2007 he won it, and in 2005 he finished 11th.

It’s almost a certainty that will be at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, the site of one of Woods’ greatest victories, on June 17. The last time the U.S. Open was held there in …

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Why they can and why they can’t

The wind is calm and the pin placements are tough, but fair. It’s going to be a fun final round.

Here’s why the top six golfers can or can’t win the Masters today:

Lee Westwood (-12)

Why he can: He’s the straightest driver amongst all the leaders. Plus, he’s got a stroke to play with.

Why he can’t: Memories of Torrey Pines, Turnberry and Hazeltine – lost chances all — will cause him to lock up.

Phil Mickelson (-11)

Why he can: Because he’s done it before, winning two Masters. He’s full of confidence.

Why he can’t: He hasn’t been the straightest driver this season. He’s been locked in this week, but at some point he will crack.

K.J. Choi (-8)

Why he can: Because everyone is overlooking him. Plus, the Masters has a recent history of crowning somewhat-obscure champions.

Why he can’t: Playing four rounds with Woods will take its toll mentally.

Tiger Woods (-8)

Why he can: Duh.

Why he can’t: His driver and putter have been erratic this week. He’s got to be aggressive …

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Teeing off: Sunday, April 11

Phil Mickelson put on a show Saturday with back-to-back eagles. What will he have in store on Sunday? (Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com)

Phil Mickelson put on a show Saturday with back-to-back eagles. What will he have in store on Sunday? (Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com)

Phil Mickelson took control of Saturday’s third round of the Masters Tournament at Augusta National. His round of 67 catapulted him up the leaderboard to second behind leader Lee Westwood, who enters Sunday’s final round with a four-shot lead over the pairing of K.J. Choi and Tiger Woods.

The pairings
Fourth round play begins about 10:40, with the final two groups set to tee off after 2:30 this afternoon.
You can check for your favorite golfer’s start time here.

Phil’s day or Tiger’s day?
Our own Jeff Schultz says Phil Mickelson’s story makes this Masters special.
Others found hints of his comeback particularly memorable:

It was the most-fun Saturday round ever at the Masters, at least that I can recall. That 30-minute stretch on the back nine, when Phil Mickelson’s two eagles followed by a birdie made up five strokes on leader Lee Westwood …

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Tree limb falls, strikes Masters fan in head

Augusta – Expletives weren’t the only thing flying when Tiger Woods was on the No. 6 tee.

Jennifer Colapietro was innocently standing on a walking path down the hill from the elevated tee from which Woods was about to hit to the par-3 green. But while Woods was still lining up his shot, a limb from a tree in the heavily-wooded area broke loose high above. It came crashing down onto the crowded walkway and hit several people but landed directly on Colapietro’s head.

“I heard a crack and the tree came down and it hit me in the face,” said Colapietro, a Princeton, N.J., native attending her second consecutive Masters. “It’s kind of crazy.”

Masters tournament officials quickly attended to the young lady and asked if she needed medical assistant. She decllined, saying her head and arm hurt but otherwise she was OK.

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Golfers looking for opportunities on Sunday

AUGUSTA — If the wind doesn’t blow, the golfers are going to go low.

Kenny Perry said it was the prettiest day at the Masters that he could ever remember. And the golfers’ happiness was reflected in their scores. The field had their best day this week, averaging 72.583 strokes over Augusta National’s 18 holes.

If the same conditions occur on Sunday, with pins that aren’t placed in punishing locations, Perry offered this prediction:

“You’re going to have to shoot a score to win this tournament,” Perry said. “It’s not going to be given to you.”

The Masters competition committee has already used this week many of the Sunday pin placements it used last year when the field blitzed the course for its lowest scoring average of the week, 71.60. If history is a guide, the last round has been the lowest for the field in three of the past four years.

“If you can hit quality golf shots you can some birdie putts out of it,” Heath Slocum said.

No wind meant that the greens didn’t dry out …

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Slocum tried to make something happen

AUGUSTA — Alpharetta’s Heath Slocum started Saturday’s third round nine strokes behind the leaders.

But that margin wasn’t going to deter him from trying to make something happen.

And he did.

Through nine holes he was the best golfer on the course, shaving five strokes off his score to get to 4-under and within four of the leaders. He rolled in a 4-footer on 2, a 15-footer on the extremely tough 3, a 7-footer on 4 that he said had the perfect number and perfect club, a 25-footer on 7 and a 12-footer on 8.

A poor bunker shot on No. 10 and bad luck on another bunker shot on No. 12 dropped him to 2-under. A birdie on 13 was followed by a bogey on 14 and another on 17 to leave him at 1-under heading into the final round.

“I really got it going and made putts I wasn’t supposed to make,” Slocum said. “Went to the back nine. Still felt good but didn’t hit as good of golf shots and really paid the price.”

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