AUGUSTA, Ga. — The family of Louis Oosthuizen sat in the small room off to the right of the grille room in side of the Augusta National clubhouse, fixated on the flat-screen television in front of them. His wife, Nel-Mare rocked the couples’ two-month old daughter Sophia in her arms, while his parents — mother, Mienie and father, Piet — sat expressionless. They had just watched Bubba Watson defeat their beloved family member on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff to decide The Masters, so they did the proper thing: They clapped.
AUGUSTA, Ga. — In the near-blinding setting sun on the final hole of the day, Phil Mickelson lined up his putt and prepared to give it a ride. He had done this twice before this week, his final scorecard be damned, and he was prepared to do it once more to try and lock up a spot in the final pairing for Sunday’s final round. Seven-under would be a nice score, but eight-under? Yeah, 8-under would be something else.
AUGUSTA, Ga. — There have been plenty of Saturday afternoons and evenings here when the appearance of Tiger Woods’ name on the leaderboard at the 18th hole was a sign of respect and fear. But just before 3 o’clock in the afternoon as the sun began to heat up Augusta National Golf Club, Woods walked up the final fairway as the rotating spot announcing the group on the hole turned.
AUGUSTA, Ga. — The body language said it all.
Phil Mickelson? Ended his day with another long, snaking putt for birdie on the final hole of the day to complete a climb back from the leaderboard abyss.
Rory McIlroy? Ended his day with a tricky putt for par on the 18th hole, after his second shot flew off to the left side of the green. That capped a day where he put himself one shot behind the two leaders at the top.
Tiger Woods? Well …
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Before the camera clicks on and the light at the top of it comes to life, the co-leader of The Masters has one request: A few more seconds. Please, just a few more seconds. It’s been a long day and a long hour after a five-hour round around these hills and slopes. Having been granted his request, Fred Couples — tucked between a molting pine tree and an empty television interview area — begins to go through his usual pre-everything routine.
First, he groans.
AUGUSTA, Ga. — The thicket of trees, shrubs, pine needles and overgrown ivy off the left side of the 10th fairway is not typical of Augusta National Golf Club. It is wild, untamed, free-flowing. Phil Mickelson arrived at the hole, shortly before 5 o’clock Thursday evening trying to get something going in what had been a non-descript round. So he did what most do on this tee box: Pull the driver out of his bag and let ‘er rip.
It was that decision that led to Mickelson into the rare wild patch of foliage.
AUGUSTA, Ga. — When the alarm went off Thursday morning at 5:45 in the house where Paul Lawrie is staying this week, he was in his thoughts. When Lawrie’s car-full of people pulled inside the gates of Augusta National Golf Club just around 7 a.m., he was in his thoughts. Same when he eagled the 13th. And the 15th. And almost certainly when he made the climb up the fairway to the 18th green to close out his first round.
He is always on Lawrie’s mind these days.
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Arnold Palmer is hungry.
He’s 82 and it’s getting to be almost 8:30 in the morning, which means it’s way past breakfast time. Sure, he’s been having his customary good time on the first hours on the first day at The Masters, but dammit, he’s hungry. The press conference disguised an all-around lovefest for golf’s “Big Three” is dragging on.
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Once again, the membership at the host club of The Masters is back in the spotlight.
During the annual press conference with Augusta National Golf Club chairman, Billy Payne, the subject of its male-only membership was not only broached, but called into question. In a session with the assembled media which lasted just over 30 minutes, Payne was repeatedly bombarded with questions about why Augusta National not only has yet to admit a female member, but its refusal to answer why.
AUGUSTA, Ga. — “Is this where Rory ended up?”
That’s the first question the man in the yellow hat with “The Masters” in green stitching on the front is confronted with. He’s the longtime marshal on the left side of the 10th hole here at Augusta National Golf Club and as each passer-by approaches, he knows what’s coming next. The question.