Masters Notebook

  • University of Michigan’s Lion Kim didn’t make the cut in the Master after firing rounds of 76-72 but he had a memorable week. Earning a spot in the field due to last summer’s U.S. Public Links title, Kim was joined by family and friends as well as his U-M coaches in Augusta. I happened to chat with him briefly on Wednesday when he cut short his practice round to compete early in the Par 3 Contest where Assistant U-M coach Chris Whitten caddied for him. Along side playing partners Bubba Watson and Aaron Baddeley, Kim shot an even par 27 for the fan-and-family favorite event. The Augusta Chronicle also reported that Kim had papers and exams waiting for him back in Ann Arbor and where his American Culture professor had never heard of the Masters when told of it by Kim last month.


  • OK, some Tiger Woods comments. Certainly at times he was the Tiger of lore, most notably during his second round 66 and his final round on Sunday of 67 which was highlighted by a riveting five-under par front nine of 31. But I’m still scratching my head over why he again switched putters (from a Scotty Cameron Titleist Newport 2 to a Nike Method mini-mallet) earlier this year and also has allowed teacher Sean Foley to fiddle with his short game. Tiger’s putting and chipping over the last few years were never the problem. It was mainly a balky driver. So why he would mess with his once impregnable putting and chipping technique baffles me especially after seeing him miss short critical putts as he did on Sunday at 12 and 15 and with a mediocre chip on 13 which led to a costly par. For the week, Tiger tied with Justin Rose for the most three-putts with six. He also ended his Saturday round with a bogey set up by another poor chip from the back of the green. In his Tuesday press conference, Woods said his game is still undergoing a “process” where “the putting stroke, the short game, the swing, the same release has to mirror throughout the entire bag.”  Sorry, I don’t get it.


  • What happened to Phil? After his breezy, wise-crackin’ and confident press conference on Tuesday, it seemed Mickelson was firing on all cylinders and it was his Masters to lose. Given the vagaries of the game and major championships, that was a ridiculous presumption. In short, Mickelson’s putter and driver turned cold and balky after his impressive win at Houston. In driving accuracy, he was dead last for players making the cut, hitting only 30 of 56 fairways. In putting, he was T-39th.


  • Mindful of Augusta National’s co-founder Clifford Roberts credo that “no public event ever stands still, but gets either better or worse,” Masters chairman Billy Payne has marshaled in a new era of “constant improvements” for the tournament. Payne has introduced such innovations as the Junior Patron program, the Asian Amateur Championship which guarantees its winner a coveted spot in the field, televising the Par Three Contest, a redesigned website, apps for the Android-based phones and iPhones and the new Masters video game, to mention only a few. But I was most impressed with the new permanent seating structure with upgraded seats for the Tournament’s expansive and quintessential practice area. Atop the back row of the seating structure I observed a long metal rail where standing patrons might rest drinks and personal items while viewing the action. In a neat little touch, the designer even punched out the iconic Masters logos in the steel rail to allow for water to drain through and not puddle up. Priceless.


  • Speaking of the practice area, 2010 PGA Teacher of the Year and recent West Michigan Golf Show headliner Todd Anderson, a Michigan native now at Sea Island, GA, was busy inside the ropes working with longtime pupil Brandt Snedeker. Snedeker had a strong tournament finishing T-15th thus automatically qualifying for next year’s Masters.


  • “For the first time in many, many years,” Payne also announced for the 2012 Masters a “limited number of daily tournament round tickets” will be made available via an online application process. When asked by a reporter what kind of a response he expects for ticket applications and adding (like the famous scene in the movie Dumb and Dumber) if it’s one-in-million odds to land a ticket, Payne quipped: “It’s not a good chance, but it’s a chance.”



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