Dogwoods, Tigers and Wisterias, But No Azaleas?
By Stephanie Wei under General

Last Sunday I posted an item about the early reviews on Augusta National’s spectacular new state-of-the-art practice facilities. Since Tiger’s presser overshadowed just about everything else, I couldn’t find pictures to see the grandeur for myself. I made a plea to readers, asking any lucky patrons attending the practice rounds to send me photos. And what do you know, I found these in my inbox on Tuesday. (The Internet is so amazing for random stuff like that sometimes. Clearly it doesn’t take much to amuse me.)

A big thank you to reader Dave for passing along some shots from Monday! I know you’re going back to catch the first round action today (so jealous!), so have a great time. Hope you don’t get trampled by the Tiger stampede. Oh wait, that’s a non-issue. Just remembered that the civil and controlled Augusta patrons have impeccable gallery etiquette and no one tries to beat out others for the optimal viewing spots. Heil Augusta! (Kidding, obviously.)

Moving on. As for the new range’s specs, Golf Magazine’s Alan Bastable reports: “Dual 400-yard-long fairways that allow players to carve shots around strategically positioned trees; magnificent white bunkers and slippery greens that mimic the real things; and a short-game area with one green for putting and two more for chipping, pitching and whatever other skills players might want to hone.”

The top picture captures the new practice area with the tee line in the distance and practice green in the foreground.

The shot above shows the range, which is about 200 yards from the walkway — just past the main gate.

Here now, this picture was taken from the same spot as the top one, but obviously facing a different direction. Bernhard Langer, the tiny figure in the center (squinting helps), was practicing pitch some shots.

Taken from the same place as the second picture but facing the far corner, here’s the “Caddie Shack,” the site ESPN’s HQ this week. Hi, Rick Reilly!

Tiger, Freddie and — is that you, Hank Haney? — walk down the fairway after hitting their drives.

Here’s the 13th green. WHERE ARE THE AZALEAS??? Only dogwood and wisteria are blooming on the 13th this year.

Finally, I leave you with the 15th green. How many balls ya think will end up in the drink this week? What’s the over/under that dunking it in the hazard on Sunday causes a player to lose the tournament?

Coming soon — video of Shane Bacon and I chatting about The Masters and our picks for the week. Also, midday-ish I’ll be posting a full analysis of my favorites/sleeper/thoughts on Tiger (don’t worry, no checking out early scores first, already had to pick ‘em because of Fantasy Golf). Oh, for the record, I don’t think Tiger will win. I predict he shoots about 74 today (traditionally gets off to slow start at Augusta), but will improve as the week progresses. I wouldn’t be surprised if he were looming around the leaders on Sunday, but I’m skeptical. Then again, he’s done all levels of unbelievable, so he might make me eat my words. And in fact, I’d love if he did. Okay, that’s it for now.