Thursday
MARCH 30, 2017
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By ADAM SCHUPAK

Admit it. You didn't have Sweden's Alex Noren making the quarterfinals of the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play in your bracket, ousting Brooks Koepka in the Sweet 16 and scaring eventual champion Dustin Johnson before bowing out, 3 and 2. It's OK. You're not alone. Noren, 34, is the current titleholder of a distinction I like to call the highest-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking whom nobody knows. 

"Yeah," he said when I mentioned this to him, "you're probably right."

He's No. 10 in the world, and yet you probably couldn't pick him out of a police lineup. The list ahead of him is a roll call of single-name (or initials) stars: D.J., Rory, JDay, Hideki, Henrik, Jordan, Adam, J.T., Rickie.


By BILL FIELDS

Down in Amen Corner late on Masters Sunday in 1987, the golden light engagement-portrait perfect, Larry Mize hit one of the finest shots in golf history. What came next – after his pitch-and-run settled into the cup on the 11th hole at Augusta National for an improbable birdie-3, the equivalent of a poison dart at playoff opponent Greg Norman – was, to me, the best reaction the game has ever produced. 

What about Jack Nicklaus in the 1975 or 1986 Masters, you say, or during the 1980 U.S. Open, his face after a 71st-hole birdie the epitome of glee? Or Tiger Woods – pick your exuberant uppercut – after willing home a he-can’t-do-that! putt or chip? When, in 2001, Annika Sorenstam leaped into her caddie’s arms after becoming the first woman to shoot 59, it was as if she’d been rescued after years stranded on a deserted island.

Those all-star celebrations and others are memorable in a sport with a prevailing vibe that long has been more hush than holler. But 30 years since Mize’s moment, it still stands out, not just because of what he did around the dinner hour that April day but what led up to that point. 



Keeping score

76

Percentage of respondents to a question on Morning Read’s Twitter account (@themorningread) who said that a victory by Fred Couples at age 57 in next week’s Masters would be more compelling than Jack Nicklaus’ 1986 win at age 46.

94

Number of players qualified for next week’s Masters, with one spot – to the winner of this week’s Shell Houston Open, if not already qualified for Augusta National – remaining to be filled.



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CALENDAR
March 30 - April 1
Symetra Tour: Gateway Classic at Longbow Golf Club
Mesa, Ariz.
March 30 - April 2
Amateur: Azalea Invitational
Country Club of Charleston (S.C.)
LPGA: ANA Inspiration
Mission Hills CC (Dinah Shore), Rancho Mirage, Calif.
PGA Tour: Shell Houston Open
Golf Club of Houston, Humble, Texas
March 31 - April 2
Champions Tour: Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic
Fallen Oak, Biloxi, Miss.
April 1-2
College men: 3M Augusta Invitational
Forest Hills CC, Augusta, Ga.
April 2
Junior boys and girls: Drive, Chip, and Putt Championship
Augusta (Ga.) National GC
April 6-9
PGA Tour: Masters Tournament
Augusta (Ga.) National GC
April 7-9
Symetra Tour: Northern California Classic
Windsor (Calif.) GC
April 12-15
LPGA: Lotte Championship
Ko Olina GC, Kapolei, Hawaii
April 13-16
European Tour: Trophee Hassan II
Royal Golf Dar Es Salam, Rabat, Morocco
PGA Tour: RBC Heritage
Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head Island, S.C.
April 14-16
Champions Tour: Mitsubishi Electric Classic
TPC Sugarloaf, Duluth, Ga.
April 19-22
Junior: Sage Valley Junior Invitational
Sage Valley Golf Club, Graniteville, S.C.
April 20-23
European Tour: Shenzhen International
Genzon GC, Shenzhen, China
Web.com Tour: United Leasing and Finance Championship
Victoria National GC, Newburgh, Ind.
PGA Tour: Valero Texas Open
TPC San Antonio (Oaks Course)
April 21-23
Champions Tour: Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge
Top of the Rock, Ridgedale, Mo.
Symetra Tour: Sara Bay Classic
Sara Bay CC, Sarasota, Fla.
April 25-26
National Golf Day
Washington

      
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