Archive for April, 2012

If Fred Couples is so old, how did he shoot a 67 at Masters?

Fred Couple's 67 was the best score of the Masters' second round. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Fred Couples' 67 was the best score of the Masters' second round. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

AUGUSTA — A lot can change in 20 years. When Fred Couples won the Masters in 1992, he wasn’t 52, wasn’t ending interviews with, “OK, I have to go now, my back hurts,” wasn’t like one of those old guys in “Cocoon,” peering into the mystical waters of the swimming pool and dreaming of doing a swan dive back to youth.

Also, Rory McIlroy was 2 years old.

But Augusta National has long been a magical place for Couples. He shares the Masters record with Gary Player for making 23 consecutive cuts. Injuries finally ended that streak. But in 2010 he was back and, at age 50, he shot a 66 in the opening round and finished sixth.

Pablo Picasso once said, “Youth has no age.”

Couples said Friday, “I feel like I’m very young when I get here.”

That was apparent again Friday. Nine years removed from his last Tour win, Couples wasn’t merely the oldest player to make the cut at the …

Continue reading If Fred Couples is so old, how did he shoot a 67 at Masters? »

Masters video blog, day 2 (sorry, nothing about Petrino)

Unfortunately, the folks at CineSport did not ask me any questions about Bobby Petrino. I guess they figured Lee Westwood was more interesting.

(Kidding. I love my VidChiefs.)

So here’s a video recap of day one and a look ahead to day two at the Masters. (P.S. It’s cold outside.)

By Jeff Schultz

Continue reading Masters video blog, day 2 (sorry, nothing about Petrino) »

Stewart Cink may have finally found his swing at Masters

Stewart Cink wasn't happy about his putting (like this one on No. 8) but shot a 1-under in the first round of the Masters. (AP photo)

Stewart Cink wasn't happy about his putting, like this one on No. 8, but still shot 1 under in first round of Masters. (AP photo)

AUGUSTA – Imagine being viewed for years as among the best in your field, then suddenly losing it. The swing goes, the confidence wavers, the fearless aggression of youth disintegrates.

“I was fearless,” Stewart Cink said Thursday of his younger days. “But this game gives you some scar tissue.”

Imagine being a professional golfer, surpassing $30 million in a career earnings, even winning the British Open, a career apex — yet believing down deep that magical week at Turnberry in 2009 was actually some aberration. Maybe not lucky, but certainly not an accurate gauge of where you believed things were heading.

“The Open week was kind of one off-week when I played really awesome,” Cink said. “I knew that even the shots I hit well, I was getting away with something. I could hit 10 in a row beautifully but in my heart I knew there was one …

Continue reading Stewart Cink may have finally found his swing at Masters »

R.E.M.’s Mike Mills welcomed into our little Masters’ pool

Mike Mills is a full-time fantasy sports player. I think he also used to be in a band.

Mike Mills (with music industry veteran Mark Williams) used to be in a band or something.

AUGUSTA — Good morning and welcome to the first round of the Masters. More importantly: Go Phil Mickelson!

This momentary lapse in journalistic objectivity (work with me) stems from the AJC’s annual pre-Masters fantasy draft and steak fry. (I drew the third pick in the lottery and, with Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods gone, chose Mickelson with my first pick of, yes, the winning team.)

This year’s draft had an added celebrity presence. Long time musician and composer Mike Mills, a founding member of R.E.M., joined our disturbed little group. He and I became friends through musician Steve Wynn (”Dream Syndicate”), a pal of mine since high school days in Los Angeles. (I’ve written a few pieces on Wynn. Here’s a blog from when he brought his “Baseball Project” band to Atlanta in 2009. Here’s a longer one from Stomp and Stammer magazine.)

A peak into the war room of our annual Masters fantasy draft.

A peak into the war room of our annual Masters fantasy …

Continue reading R.E.M.’s Mike Mills welcomed into our little Masters’ pool »

Billy Payne struggles to keep focus on the Masters

Billy Payne gave a full update on landscape, but not club membership issues. (AP photo)

Billy Payne gave a full update on landscape, but not club membership issues. (AP photo)

AUGUSTA — All will seem well in the world again Thursday morning.

There will be a ceremonial start with three of golf’s museum pieces — Palmer, Nicklaus and Player. That will be followed by the parade of the sport’s current stars – Woods, McIlroy, Mickelson, et. al. The story will again be the Masters, one of the world’s premier events played at one of its more treasured venues, Augusta National.

The Masters is different because the course is so often a bigger story than the players. The Masters is different because even when a marquee name isn’t sitting on top of the leaderboard, there is Sunday back-nine drama, whether it’s Zach Johnson from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, shooting a final-round 69 to win a major, or Kenny Perry melting into a pool of tears, or Rory McIlroy self-immolating and hitting a tee shot to somebody’s back porch.

The Masters, however, also is different because …

Continue reading Billy Payne struggles to keep focus on the Masters »

Your video Masters preview from Ron Burgundy (or me)

Spent a few minutes with the folks at Cinesport this morning.
OK, that’s enough of an intro . . .

Continue reading Your video Masters preview from Ron Burgundy (or me) »

Tiger Woods has that Masters champion look to him again

Think there's a little bit of anticipation for Tiger Woods this Masters. This was the crowd for his practice round.

Tiger Woods was center stage Tuesday, and he may dazzle fans this week. (Phil Skinner/AJC)

AUGUSTA – Tiger Woods went 923 days and 27 events between PGA Tour victories, during which he lost his wife, fired his caddie, split with his swing coach and failed to string together four rounds of the otherworldly golf that we had come to expect and drop our jaws over.

Apparently, this descent to mortal ground zero did something to the measuring stick in Woods’ mind. The same player who so often reminded us that the majors are the only tournaments that really matter to him now feels compelled to remind everybody that he totally kicked butt in a relative pickup game at Mountasia several months ago — something called the Chevron World Challenge, which is only a world challenge if an 18-player field, no-cut, off-off-Broadway event now qualifies as something global.

Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational two weeks ago. It was his first victory in an official Tour event since 2009. …

Continue reading Tiger Woods has that Masters champion look to him again »

Hello from Masters, home of pimento cheese, monkey glands

The "Champions Dinner" menu, presumably a first at Augusta National.

The "Champions Dinner" menu, presumably a first at Augusta National.

AUGUSTA — Good morning from Augusta. And what the heck is “monkey gland sauce?”

Tonight is the annual “Champions Dinner.” It’s traditional for the defending winner of the Masters to pick the menu for a Tuesday night feast of tournament week, so it follows that all attending, including past champions, are exposed to new culinary cultures.

Which leads to this: Charl Schwartzel, a native of Johannesburg, South Africa, and the 2011 Masters winner, selected some interesting items — at least one that sounded straight out of, “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.”

The main course: “Marinated and Grilled Filet Mignon, Lamb Chops, Chicken Breast and Boerewors (a sausage, I’m told. OK, actually Wikipedia told me).

This selection of meats is served with — tada! — with “Monkey Gland Sauce.”

I did an Internet search because could not recall ever watching the Food Network and hearing Emeril exclaim: “Bam! Monkey Gland …

Continue reading Hello from Masters, home of pimento cheese, monkey glands »