APRIL 6, 2017

On the eve of the Masters, Dustin Johnson injured his back and was questionable for today’s first round, according to The Associated Press.

Johnson hurt his lower back falling down stairs at his rental home in Augusta, AP golf writer Doug Ferguson reported, citing Johnson’s agent.

In a statement, David Winkle of Hambric Sports said Johnson sustained a “serious fall” and was “resting, although quite uncomfortably.” Johnson was prescribed anti-inflammatory medication, ice treatment and rest Wednesday night, “with the hope of being able to play tomorrow,” Hambric said.


Every Masters ticket is printed with the words “No Resale” right on the front, but try telling that to my man Butch, who is camped out all week on Washington Road, scalping the most sought-after ticket in sports.  

Butch, who did not disclose his last name, is licensed by the state of Georgia and travels the country to major sports events. He says that he works 20-hour days but that it beats working. You can come see him just past the intersection of Washington Road and Boy Scout Road, steps away from TBonz Steakhouse. If you roll into the parking lot at the Augusta Best Inn, he'll know you're serious and not just one of the hundreds of curiosity-seekers rolling down their window as traffic slows. His partner is Jimmy D, who has been working this corner of Washington Road for 15 years and offered me all of $20 for my practice-round badge (which retails for $50).


Even at 77, Jack Nicklaus is capable of saying something new about Augusta National, the home of the Masters.

The tournament, he says, really boils down to just a half-dozen swings.

“You’ve got six shots on this golf course that you’ve really got to watch,” said Nicklaus, winner of six Masters green jackets. “If you’re smart with those shots and play them well, you probably will do pretty well in the tournament.”


We’d characterize it as a point of frustration for Masters viewers, although infuriation might be closer to the truth.

Every year, as the world becomes more wired in its TV options, the network coverage emanating from golf’s biggest tournament produces a smaller trickle than a ball toppling into Rae’s Creek.

No question, officials at Augusta National Golf Club love clean lines and a minimalist approach – reflected in the absence of corporate signage and a nearly commercial-free TV broadcast on ESPN and CBS in the U.S. But when compared with the wall-to-wall coverage offered from the U.S. and British opens, the void is so large and empty, there’s almost an echo.


A year ago, Pat Perez was home in Scottsdale, Ariz., watching the Masters. With his left arm in a sling after surgery for a torn labrum and downing Percocets for the pain, Perez wondered whether he would play again. At age 40, he had to face the possibility that his career was over.

After seven months of rehabilitation, Perez was ready for golf but needed a place to play. He found it via a sponsor exemption into the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, where he would tie for 33rd. After a T-7 in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, Perez broke through the next week with his second career victory, at the OHL Mayakoba Classic, regaining fully exempt status on the PGA Tour and a spot in this week’s Masters.


As all of you entered in Masters pools know, it is easy to single out the usual suspects and obvious choices for your list. The unpredictable is more difficult, the didn’t-see-that-coming golfer who comes out of nowhere to win a green jacket. 

They exist, you know. The Champions Dinner guest list includes a number of them. They are the few, the proud and the most unlikely winners in Masters history.


Padraig Harrington might be the golfer most capable of talking about the emotions of losing a tournament on a rules infraction.

In 2000, he mistakenly did not sign a scorecard in the Benson & Hedges International Open on the European Tour. Unlike Lexi Thompson, who was penalized in a controversial runner-up finish in the recent ANA Inspiration, Harrington was disqualified.

Thursday’s first round (all times EDT; a-amateur)

8 a.m.    Daniel Summerhays    Russell Henley

8:11 a.m.    Trevor Immelman    Brendan Steele    Jhonattan Vegas

8:22 a.m.    Mike Weir    Billy Hurley III    Scott Piercy

8:33 a.m.    Larry Mize    Brian Stuard    a-Stewart Hagestad

8:44 a.m.    Soren Kjeldsen    Kevin Chappell    Jim Furyk

8:55 a.m.    Sandy Lyle    Sean O'Hair    a-Scott Gregory

Continuous putting would hit the mark

A simple fix starting in 2019 to never again have the Lexi Thompson "she didn't replace her ball exactly in the right spot" issue: continuous putting (“4-stroke penalty stuns Thompson at ANA,” April 3,

Starting in 2019, one of the proposed rules is that a player can tap down spike marks and any other damage on a green. If that rule is implemented, continuous putting should be in effect starting in 2019 as well.

Keeping score


Forecast wind speed, in miles per hour, for Thursday’s first round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club, with gusts occasionally topping 40 mph, according to the National Weather Service.


Number of years since the Masters Tournament introduced the Par 3 Contest, which for the first time was cancelled because of rainWednesday at Augusta National Golf Club. Sam Snead, a three-time Masters champion, won the inaugural Par 3 Contest, in 1960.


Golftec is expanding the component clubhead and shaft combinations for its Tecfit custom club-fitting program this spring, the company announced. The program is being launched in more than 30 centers in time for the golf season.

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 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

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