Archive for the ‘Golf / Masters’ Category

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. But …

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 »

Tiger Woods: Love him or hate him, he’s still the show

Tiger Woods may never fully return to form but he remains golf's biggest star going into the Masters. (AP photo)

Tiger Woods may never dominate the PGA Tour again, but he remains golf's biggest star going into the Masters. (AP photo)

If you can get past the circus and past the character defects, if you can get past Tiger Woods’ bizarre obsession with the Navy SEALs, and that three of his alleged former mistresses (porn stars) are releasing a movie Tuesday (“Notorious Tales of the World’s Greatest Golfer,” and we’re just assuming it’s not about No. 1-ranked Luke Donald), and that his former swing coach is pimping a book, here’s one undeniable truth: Woods is gold — for the PGA Tour, for the sports world, for us.

Other golfers tire of answering questions about him, but they know who moves the meter. They know who sells tickets and sponsorships and ultimately brings more money and attention to the sport, and therefore them.

Fans may be divided on him – some still clinging to the being (not human) who won 14 majors and 71 Tour events in 14 years, others refusing to let go of the being (less …

Continue reading Tiger Woods: Love him or hate him, he’s still the show »

Will Augusta National finally be forced to invite a woman?

Masters adheres to traditions. But Billy Payne, club may have to change one. (Curtis Compton)

Masters adheres to traditions. But Billy Payne, club may have to change one. (Curtis Compton)

The mild winter ensures full blooms on the azaleas. Five different winners in the last five years eliminates any hint of predictability. Tiger Woods’ first tour win in 2½ years last week teases us into believing golf’s preeminent figure can return to dominance and provide some red-shirt drama on Sunday.

Welcome to the perfect backdrop for next week’s Masters, bliss for the Lords of Augusta National.

Well, except this: That women issue.

If it had never quite died, it at least had gone dormant, like Bermuda fairways. But the question of whether Augusta National will finally open the doors to female members  — even if “at the point of a bayonet,” to reprise the charges of former chairman William “Hootie” Johnson – is bigger now than ever before. Even bigger than when Martha Burk first sent her little letter to Johnson nearly 10 years ago asking about the club’s exclusionary policies, …

Continue reading Will Augusta National finally be forced to invite a woman? »

Furman Bisher: We lost a legend, I lost a friend

Not many are worthy of the word "legend" attached to their name, but Furman Bisher is one. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Furman Bisher: One of few worthy of "legend" being attached to his name. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Every few weeks, the same thoughts would roll through my head:

I just had a conversation with the man who sat on the front porch sipping ice tea with Ty Cobb.

I just exchanged emails with the man who scored the only interview with “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.

The man who watched Cy Young pitch, the man who saw Joe Louis box, the man who covered the very first post-bootlegging NASCAR race — one of the few people who legitimately deserved to have the word “legend” attached to his name — just dialed my cell phone to say, “Hello, young man. I like what you wrote . . .”

I’m sad today, not just because I lost a friend and former colleague in Furman Bisher but because this is like a door to history slamming shut  for all of us.

In a few weeks, I’ll be going to Augusta for the Masters and I won’t be able to turn to my right and exchange thoughts with the man who played golf with Bobby Jones.

Bisher …

Continue reading Furman Bisher: We lost a legend, I lost a friend »

Keegan Bradley goes from slopes to PGA Championship

Original CKeegan Bradley celebrates his 35-foot birdie putt on No. 17 to tie Jason Dufner for the lead in the PGA. He went on to win in a three-hole playoff. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Original CKeegan Bradley celebrates his 35-foot birdie putt on No. 17 to tie Jason Dufner for the lead in the PGA. He went on to win in a three-hole playoff. (Jason Getz/AJC)

With rain, sleet and a freezing wind blowing in his face at the top of a mountain, Keegan Bradley had a revelation at the age of 12.

It was cold. Cold stinks.

“I’m at the top of this mountain in Killington, Vermont, thinking, ‘This isn’t much fun,’” Bradley said Sunday. “That was the moment I realized I didn’t want to ski. I wanted to be a golfer.”

The PGA Championship this week at the Atlanta Athletic Club was bizarre. Tiger Woods blew up on Thursday and flew out on Friday. Phil Mickelson never was a factor. Nor was Rory McIlroy or most recognizable names on the Tour. If there was a bridge in Johns Creek, a television executive was jumping off of it.

So it sort of figured that the tournament came down to two of the biggest obscurities in the field: Jason Dufner, who had never won a Tour event, and …

Continue reading Keegan Bradley goes from slopes to PGA Championship »

Tiger Woods is suddenly more legend than threat

A common sight Thursday: Tiger Woods hitting from the gallery after missing the fairway with his tee shot. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Here's a common sight in Thursday's PGA opening round: Tiger Woods hitting from the gallery after missing the fairway with his tee shot. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

On those occasions when he managed a good shot, the applause was warm, not explosive, as if Jack Benny were delivering some old punch line you’ve heard a hundred times.

On those occasions when somebody yelled his name, it came in an almost pleading tone, like when a young boy near the seventh tee said with almost tears dripping from words, “Come on, Tiger.” Tiger Woods walked past him – then hit his ensuing tee shot into the bunker.

It has been 23 months since Tiger Woods won a tournament. It has been 39 months since he has won a major. There is a point when you start to realize, he never is going to be Tiger Woods again.

That doesn’t mean he’ll never win another event. But after watching Woods implode in the opening round of the PGA on Thursday, firing a cartoon-like eight bogeys (including three doubles) over his final …

Continue reading Tiger Woods is suddenly more legend than threat »

It’s the PGA! It’s Tiger! It’s scarred greens!

Tiger Woods hits a drive on the 10th hole, his first hole of the day in the PGA Championship.

Tiger Woods hits a drive on 10th hole, his first hole of the day in the PGA Championship.

Welcome to my neighborhood, Johns Creek. I live 15 minutes from the Atlantic Athletic Club, which is hosting this year’s PGA, and I’m kinda liking this short commute. It’s for that reason that I’m going to start a campaign to move the Masters here.

First, the big news: Please don’t blame my little town, but the 93rd PGA Championship is going straight to hell. The grounds crew at the AAC damaged the 14th and 17th greens during their maintenance and manicuring on Wednesday night.

This is what professional golf officials would officially refer to as bad timing.

According to the PGA, the damage is “believed to be the result of a significant rise in the dew point at 7 p.m., which caused the brushes on the mowers on those greens to stick in the grass and damage the turf.”

The danger of the Johns Creek dew points are well known around the world. This is why I never use brushes on my mower.

As a …

Continue reading It’s the PGA! It’s Tiger! It’s scarred greens! »

Countdown: Smoltz’s splat, Gators’ buzz, Newton to UFL!

This outfit is not golf course appropriate.

This outfit is not golf course appropriate.

The Count never was much into golf as a youth. Didn’t like the clothes or the country club atmosphere and one time after spending all day at the driving range when he showed up on a young lass’s doorstep on the night of a full moon, he tried to hypnotize his victim with his mesmerizing gaze, just like his great uncle Count Dracula taught him, and the girl just started laughing and said, “You’re going to bite me in an Ashworth polo? Seriously?” Then she slammed the door and he slinked away.

But The Count was ready to come to the aid of former Braves pitcher John Smoltz, who played in last week’s Nationwide event in Valdosta. Smoltz needed a caddy. He opted to hire some young, punk kid who, like, you know, golfs. Big mistake. We count down . . .

10. When you’re at 27-over-171, you can’t go to bullpen

It started so well. Par, par, birdie. And then, oh, cover your eyes.

It started so well. Par, par, birdie. And then, oh, cover your eyes.

Smoltz somehow devalued the South Georgia Classic. He was 1-under …

Continue reading Countdown: Smoltz’s splat, Gators’ buzz, Newton to UFL! »

This rare Masters moment belongs to Charl Schwartzel

Charl Schwartzel celebrates after closing out a Masters win with four straight birdies. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Charl Schwartzel celebrates after winning Masters with birdies on last four holes. (Brant Sanderlin)

AUGUSTA – There are two phrases that seldom intersect in golf, and they go something like this: “Masters winner” and “son of a chicken farmer.”

“I really don’t know,” Augusta National chairman Billy Payne said later when asked if such offspring had ever worn a coveted green jacket. “But that’s all I’m going to say. I’m not giving interviews.”

Maybe he was just overcome by the moment, or the thought of a new pipeline to fresh eggs.

The 75th Masters will be remembered for a lot of things. There was Rory McIlroy taking a 3½-round lead into the back nine, only to melt down with green numbers in the next three holes, including a cartoonish triple-bogey on 10.

There was Tiger Woods shooting a 31 and making up seven strokes on the leader in the front nine, only to flatten out and fade out on the back nine.

There was a crammed leader board that at one time had six players within two …

Continue reading This rare Masters moment belongs to Charl Schwartzel »