APRIL 8, 2017

For Sergio Garcia, the Masters has been a love affair, with a merciless temptress showing early interest in the Spaniard. As the weekdays gave way to the weekend, that affection turned to indifference.

This year, Garcia’s fate could change.

For the second consecutive day, Augusta National gave the 93-player Masters field all that it could handle. Garcia was up to the task Friday, shooting a 3-under 69 to jump to the top of the leaderboard with first-round leader Charley Hoffman (75), Rickie Fowler (67) and Thomas Pieters (68) at 4-under 140.


The Twin Towers of European golf are coming to a television screen near you.

You expect to see your favorite big names contend at the Masters Tournament this weekend, and you will. Even without injured Dustin Johnson, familiar names such as Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson, Fred Couples, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth are in the chase.

As a bonus, you’ll also get a glimpse of the Next Big Things from the other side of the Atlantic: Belgium’s Thomas Pieters, a lanky 6 feet 5 inches, and Spain’s Jon Rahm, an imposing 6-2. These Twin Towers look like the pillars of Europe’s Ryder Cup team for the next decade. In short, get used to them.


They hawk T-shirts bearing the famed Masters slogan in the bustling Augusta National Golf Club merchandise area, but of course, that’s yet another of the experiences that those watching from afar can’t begin to enjoy. It’s patrons-only territory.

Augusta doesn’t sell its wares online and barely broadcasts the event over the first two days of live play. For those trying to monitor the first two rounds from home, the ESPN broadcast on Thursday and Friday didn’t begin until 3 p.m. EDT. So, that said, after what transpired Friday afternoon, perhaps an updated T-shirt motto might be more fitting.


Whenever I'm asked to name my favorite restaurant, I have a simple answer: Yankee Stadium or Augusta National. For me, it's the setting as much as the cuisine. As Humphrey Bogart once said, "A hot dog at the ballpark is better than steak at the Ritz." To put a Masters spin on that, a pimento cheese sandwich wrapped in green plastic beats the caviar at The French Laundry.

One of the real treats at Augusta National is the 1950s prices of the concession items at the Masters. My tab for an egg salad sandwich ($1.50), pimento cheese sandwich ($1.50) and an Arnold Palmer ($2) set me back $5. You can't even buy a bucket of popcorn at the movies for that price anymore. The highest-priced items on the menu are the barbecue sandwich and grilled-chicken wrap that cost a whopping $3. It was chilly this year, but I always save room for the Georgia peach ice cream sandwich ($2). Is there any other sporting event where you can buy a domestic beer for $4?


Whatever nerves Stewart Hagestad might have felt in his Masters debut, he obviously has quieted them.

Hagestad became the first U.S. Mid-Amateur champion to make the 36-hole cut in the Masters since the exemption was first awarded in 1989. He shot 1-over 73 on Friday at Augusta National Golf Club for a 147 total and share of 19th place. Australian Curtis Luck, who won the U.S. Amateur and Asia-Pacific Amateur titles, shot 72 for a 150 total and T-45.

Saturday’s third round (all times EDT; a-amateur)

10:20 a.m. – Jason Day

10:30 a.m. – Daniel Berger, Branden Grace

10:40 a.m. – J.B. Holmes, Francesco Molinari

10:50 a.m. – a-Curtis Luck, Larry Mize

11 a.m. – James Hahn, Ross Fisher

Friday’s second round

(a-amateur; 36-hole cut at 6-over 150)

Pos.  Player           Score

T1    Charley Hoffman  65-75-140   -4

T1    Sergio Garcia       71-69-140   -4

T1    Thomas Pieters    72-68-140   -4

T1    Rickie Fowler        73-67-140   -4


Misplaced nationalism taints game

There’s one aspect of viewer interference that I haven’t seen touched on: vindictiveness (“4-stroke penalty stuns Thompson at ANA,” April 3,

Many fans have their favorite golfers; conversely some golfers may be disliked for any number of reasons (reason itself having little to do with it).

I’ll use a hypothetical to illustrate my point: Given the recent outbreak of rampant nationalism, some viewers may harbor a grudge against international players – in the LPGA, say South Koreans. Those viewers might pay much closer attention to Korean golfers than they would the rest of the field. Given the number of high performers from South Korea – a country that has been nothing short of a steadfast ally – it’s likely those viewers could and would come up with some inane reason to call foul.

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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