Posts Tagged ‘augusta national’
It’s Masters week, if you hadn’t already figured that from all these golf- and Masters-related golf posts.
I’ve never had the honor of visiting or playing Augusta National myself, but I know people who have.
In fact, I was attending a recent IBM event in Las Vegas when a very senior IBM executive confided to me that he had played Augusta National for the first time recently with several other very senior ex-IBM executive (the gender mix of which I’m not at liberty to reveal.)
I asked him what he shot, and it was a very respectable mid-handicap number, especially for Augusta National — people who don’t know golf can’t really fathom how long 7,435 yards is for a golf course. (That’s why you see so many players who don’t have good distance off the tee hitting long irons and even utility clubs to get onto Augusta’s greens.)
He also explained, as I’ve also heard from others, that TV just doesn’t do the course justice. He explained that the hills and undulations are so much more pronounced when you’re out there walking the grounds.
“Eighteen,” he explained, me nodding my head. “Like walking straight up a hill.” On TV, it obviously looks like it’s uphill, but not nearly the angle at which he was suggesting.
It was at this point that I had to tune out, as he was killing me with this reveal.
So yesterday, after work, I decided I wanted to get to know the course better, and figured why not try and see if there were any golfing games that included Augusta National in their course lineup.
I figure this is the only way I’m going to play some of the world’s great courses, so it’s probably a pretty good investment.
Turns out, Electronic Arts had released a Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2012 edition in that year that included the ability to play Augusta National, and they had a Mac edition, AND Amazon would allow me to download it on the fly and install it.
All for a whopping $20.
I also discovered the 2014 Tiger Woods PGA Tour edition will have a version of Augusta for the Masters in 1934 — so not only can you play with the likes of Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan and all the other greats, but you can play the course the way Bobby Jones and Alister Mackenzie originally designed it.
You just have to have an X-Box 360 or Playstation 3 (neither of which I own!)
The 2012 version will do nicely for now. Once the DMG was downloaded and I had installed the software and got the online presence set up (the game allows you to play a round with others out in cyberspace), I was off to hole number 1, Tea Olive (see pic above).
My score for the round was atrocious, as I was just learning all the controls for shotmaking in the game (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it), but the visualizations and greenery were an excellent way to find your way around the course, and to help you better learn how and why players navigate Augusta National the way they do.
For the record, on number 12, I hit about five balls into Rae’s Creek before finding the green — hopefully not a prophecy of things to come should I ever get to actually play a round at Augusta National.
I also found myself in situations that most Tour players would never find themselves which, for me, is about par for the course.
Hello Monday, in my favorite week of the year.
Yes, it’s that time again, Masters Week, where the best golfers come together on a classic golf course down in Augusta to test for the best.
The history, the traditions, and such behind The Masters are all well and good, but for true and rabid golf fans like myself, it’s the actual competitive golf from Thursday through Sunday afternoon that we live and breathe for.
Though all eyes this week are on Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy’s new Nike clubs seemed to be warming up to him down here in the heart of Texas over the weekend.
Rory shot a 66 yesterday at the Valero Texas Open, catching some much needed momentum heading into Augusta and finishing second at -12, just two strokes back from winner Martin Laird.
If I were a handicapping man, I’d also be on the lookout this week for the likes of Brant Snedeker, whose hot putter will likely find lots of love at Augusta National; Freddie Jacobson, whose painter’s cap could very well point him in the right directions on Augusta’s undulating nightmare greens; Nicolas Colsaerts, the “Belgium Bomber” playing his first Masters, still one of the best putters in the world; Matt Kuchar, whose victory at WGC-Accenture showed he can hold up under the pressure and take it into the homestretch.
And let’s not forget last year’s winner, Bubba Watson, who might just be up for a repeat.
It’s a difficult tournament to handicap, which is what makes it so interesting to watch.
Speaking of golf, it’s a crazy game. I went out and played twice this weekend…on Saturday, I made three birdies and still shot a 90 (but I also had a 10 on one hole, where I had a Kevin Na-like moment as I tried to hack my way out of some woods).
On Sunday, I rediscovered my swing (especially for my driver), hitting a 350-yard drive on one par 4, and overshooting a 290-yard par 4 with a 3-wood (the wind was VERY much at my back on both holes). Both just gorgeous shots that I couldn’t believe came off of MY club.
I shot an 81, my low for the calendar year, and it was night and day, like I’d been playing two different games from Saturday to Sunday.
Then again, that’s golf!
Have you ever visited a place where you couldn’t get connected to the Internet, yet you were waiting on a vital piece of information or attempting to monitor an evolving situation?
That was my plight over the weekend. In my case, it was nothing urgent or critical…well, it was to me…but fortunately no lives were at stake.
I was out in west Texas with some good friends for our annual “gun camp,” whereby we take all our firearms and proceed to shoot at harmless paper targets and clay pigeons. Trust me, no animals are harmed in this particular enclave, unless they happen to get in front of our vehicle on the long drive west.
My cell phone service, which is now provided by Virgin Mobile (who subs from the Sprint network), was mostly useless, both voice and data, due to our extreme location. But every once in awhile some packets would stream through and I would get an email update.
So, I spent all of Friday and Saturday mostly clueless about what was going on in Augusta, which for a rabid golfer and fan like me is pretty much torture. My non-golfing buddies found my plight quite amusing.
Smoke signals were sounding pretty good by the end of the weekend.
However, once I was back on the road heading back to Austin yesterday afternoon, I had a different plight: I didn’t want to be communicated to. I didn’t want to go into a restaurant where I might overhear an ESPN update. I didn’t go into the Stripes convenience store for the same reason, particularly as the drive got us closer to the 5 PM hour.
I had no idea what was going on at the Masters, but I wanted to find out for myself and watch it unfold naturally and in its due time.
That is the beauty of the Masters tournament, golf’s greatest, and that’s precisely what happened — and nobody spoiled it for me. Partially because I kept my cell phone off, refused to listen to my voicemail until I’d watch the last round in its entirety, and watched that last putt of Bubba Watson’s (hey, another Watson namesake!).
Congratulations, Bubba Watson!
You played a brilliant round, and your twisted pitching wedge out of the woods on 10 on the second playoff hole will go down in Master’s history. I still can’t believe you made that shot!
I also couldn’t believe Louis Oosthuizen’s double-eagle on the second hole, something that’s never happened on that hole during Masters tournament play in its entire history. The “albatross,” as some refer to a double eagle three under par hole, is a rarity in golf — more rare than holes in one, I would imagine.
But watching Oosthuizen’s brilliant 250+ yard shot roll onto the green, down the green on a line straight toward the hole, was the kind of drama and pivotal moments that we’ve come to depend on the Masters for.
There were other exciting moments throughout the few days, and some heart-stopping, like Phil Mickelson’s triple-bogey on four yesterday. Why he didn’t go back to the tee instead of trying to hit out of the bamboo???…Well, those are the kinds of decisions that only golfers can try and rationalize, usually after the fact, and usually too late. But those three strokes probably cost Mickelson this year’s tournament.
By the time I finished watching the Masters, it was 12:30 AM and I was emotionally exhausted and in tears as I watched Bubba hug his mom on the 10th green. To lose his father to cancer, then adopt his first child, and now suddenly win the green jacket….it was a storybook Masters.
Well, except for that one small part about my new CEO not being offered up a green jacket. That one small detail left a bad taste in my mouth this year, and for me allowed an otherwise great and gigantic golf tournament to play out on just that much smaller a stage.
Day one of the 2012 Masters was about what you might have expected, if filled with a few surprises.
Augusta National may have been the “star” today — she was playing very tough, despite the soft greens, and the winds (and, later in the day, light rain) and heavy air, made for some long play.
I can’t remember the number of players who were short (in Rae’s Creek) or right on 13, and only the longest hitters were consistently hitting greens in regulation.
If you take a look at the final leaderboard for the first round, it is, not surprisingly, a “who’s who” of men’s professional golf. As far as the top of the leaderboard, well, it was Henrik Stenson’s to own at 6 under until a snowman (a quadruple bogey 8) on the closing hole dropped him back to −1 (he’d also bogeyed 16 to take him to 5 under).
Lee Westwood came in “under the radar,” as the announcers kept telling us, shooting a sweet 5 under, his last birdie coming at the 17th.
South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen came alive in a birdie run on the last five holes to land at 4 under, along with Sweden’s Peter Hanson.
Then, there was a six-way tie for third, including that most interesting man in the world, Spaniard Miguel Anjel Jimenez.
Beyond that, it was your typical PGA log jam, with former Master’s winner Zach Johnson at 2 under, followed by fellow Augusta green jacket owner Vijay Singh, and 2010 FedEx champion Jim Furyk.
Even Steve Stricker’s in the running at 1 under.
That’s where you also found Irishman and favorite Rory McIlroy, while Tiger came in at even par and Phil Mickelson arrived at 2 over, after a disheartening bogey on 18.
Tomorrow is another day, but if today’s play was any indication, round two should be filled with plenty more drama before we see who survives the cut and moves into the weekend and “moving day” on Saturday.
Well, we’re over halfway through Tiger Woods’ first round at Augusta, and he’s about to make his way to the backside of Amen Corner, having parred both 11 and 12 (although his par putt on 12 almost spun out right).
He just hit his tee shot on 13 and wailed one out to the right with a clear shot to the 13th green.
Henrik Stenson is the surprise of the day, having eagled both holes 2 and 8, and now sits at 6 under through 13.
Scotsman Paul Lawrie is hanging in second place having finished his round at 3 under for the day, but there’s still plenty of golf left to play, and Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson are just getting their round going.
Spain’s Alvaro Quiros has the shot of the day thus far, having gone into the creek on 13 on the right side of the green, and opting to play a brilliant shot from the hazard, water and all, and planting it about 10 feet past the hole. He missed the putt for his birdie conversion, but saved par and avoided what could have been the first major disaster of today’s round.
We’ll see what Tiger does with his approach on 13, but if history’s any guide, he’ll be aiming straight for that flag on the far right of the green.
If I didn’t have a real job, I could spend this entire week blogging about The Masters.
It’s my favorite sporting event of the year, of all sporting events. If you’re an avid golf fan who knows anything about golf history, that’s kind of the way it must be, at least for American golf.
The Masters was initiated by Clifford Roberts and beloved amateur golfer, Bobby Jones, at Augusta National, a new course Jones had built in Augusta, Georgia. The first Masters was played in March 1934, officially billed as “Augusta National Invitational.”
Jones himself came out of retirement to play the tournament, which helped bolster awareness of the new tournament that was destined to become the pinnacle of American golf’s four majors.
Over the years, it attracted and helped craft the legends of the best of the best in golf: Ben Hogan, Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Tiger Woods.
To date, Jack Nicklaus was the record for the most Masters victories: Six. Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer have four each.
My handicapping for this year’s tournament? Well, I’d say like any major, it’s a pretty wide open field. But, if I were a gambling man, I’d certainly have Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, and Tiger Woods up at the top of my list.
Hunter Mahan, fresh off his Shell Open victory in Houston yesterday, with a putter that is mostly sizzling, would lead the next tier, a group to which I would include Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald, and Angel Cabrera.
I also wouldn’t rule out Jason Day, Jason Dufner, or even South Korean newbie Sang-moon Bae.
But my money’s going to be on that first group. Tiger’s victory at Bay Hill was well-timed, and his laser iron shots were made for Augusta (and let’s not forget Tiger tied for 3rd last year at Augusta). And Rory demonstrated in last summer’s U.S. Open he could move past the psychological barrier of the hole 10 disaster at Augusta and literally run away with a major victory.
So, it’s anybody’s guess, really. And that’s why we golf fans love The Masters so much.
It has so much tradition…and yet so much uncertainty.
It’s that time again.
What time is that, you ask?
Time for The Masters 2010, of course.
If you have a 3D-enabled TV set, you’re in for a special treat with this year’s tournament. Some of the back 9 action at Augusta is going to be broadcast in 3D (no, Alice or the White Rabbit will not be making a special guest appearance).
Alas, I only have a regular HD set, but between that and the IBM-sponsored Master’s 2010 Web site, I know I’ll be in good hands to follow this year’s action. And I WILL be following the action…all four days of it!
For serious golf fans, The Master’s verges on holy ritual. And though I still haven’t had the opportunity to walk Augusta live and in person, for me it’s the greatest sporting event of the year.
This year’s Web site has been completely redesigned to allow the story of the Masters to be told in a very visual manner (see the screenshot below).
Less is more, and it’s time to let the golf course tell more of the story.
This year, the live video experience will be enhanced, including HD quality video, as well as a DVR-like feature that will allow users to “rewind key moments.”
There will be additional live coverage (including “Featured Groupings”…hmm, I wonder who will make it to those this year!), and the leader board will be updated to include key shots.
For you mobile users, the updated iPhone app will be updated and include the expanded live video coverage (along with radio coverage as well, for those of you listening discriminately at work!).
The mobile coverage will be expanded to ensure high-end smart phones have the best possible user experience.
And for all you lucky new iPad owners out there, my inside sources have it that the Master’s iPhone app will work there as well.
Just don’t rub it in.