04/09/2015

If you’re reading this, you love golf. If you love golf, you watched the play today of The Masters tournament in Augusta, GA. I don’t meant to tap into too much of the obvious here, simply a few thoughts. Augusta National Golf Club looked stunning yet again, did it not?

I was discussing with friends during the viewing today, what it would take to play Augusta, what would I sacrifice? I said, deadpanned, that the government could go ahead and tack an additional $10,000 onto my student loan debt in order to promise me a tee time sometime next week. Ridiculous? Perhaps, but nothing I won’t be able to pay off over the next 10 years–I hope.

I mean, at least that will make paying off student loans a little more enjoyable. I could think of every payment and think of my day on the hallowed grounds of Bobby Jones and the most influential people in golf history.

It’s a dream of mine, as it is a dream of many.

Regardless, I’m not writing this blog as a sappy story on the world-renowned golf course, but a recap of Day 1 of the 2015 Masters. So let’s get into it:

Driving Series

2015 Masters: My First Round Thoughts (Troy)

  • Jason Day’s back nine on Thursday bodes very, very well for the rest of the week. The shot on 16 was unreal. Bookended with bogies, unfortunately

Screenshot 2015-04-09 23.01.03

  • Let your imagination go for a second regarding Jordan Spieth’s 64. Imagine the shot at 14 hitting the flag and somehow dropping. Imagine his play on 15 improving, making birdie on a hole that averaged 4.64 on the day. Was 61 in the cards today?
  • Tiger Woods’ play today was so erratic. At times, he seemed to have it together. Other times, he was hitting block-shank-push-slices from wrong fairways. The most encouraging take from the day was the status of his short game. Getting back into the arena after a lay off has to be difficult. He’ll improve throughout the week, I trust.
  • I said in our Podcast earlier this week, that Charley Hoffman would miss the cut. He has no big finishes in majors and little experience. I thought his relative lack of distance would hurt him, but getting off first helped him with his preferred pace of play. I’ll say, going off later in the afternoon with the spotlight on, that Hoffman still has a chance of missing the cut #stayingtruetoprediction
charley-hoffman-usgolftv

Charley Hoffman doppleganger: Pre-haircut.

  • My Preview for the week has offered some nice selections. Still waiting on Jimmy and his big, big Friday round.
    • Jordan Spieth: -8
    • Jason Day: -5
    • Rory McIlroy: -1
    • Rickie Fowler: +1
    • Brandt Snedeker: +2
    • Ryan Palmer: -3 (Sleeper)
    • Jimmy Walker: +1 (Winner)
  • I’m staying true with Jimmy Walker. I feel he’s got a big round in him either Friday or Saturday.
  • Arnold Palmer is turning into a bit of a comedian. Cracking jokes in the presser, cracking jokes during the par-3. Hey, it’s fun. If you don’t love Arnold Palmer, you may have a complex.
  • There’s a guy named “Meth” in this tournament (and he’s the low-amateur after round 1).
  • Justin Rose’s golf swing is one of my most envied on the PGA Tour.
  • Rory McIlroy is in for a big day on Friday. His round of -1 will get the monkey and months worth of speculation off his back. I see Rory capitalizing in Round 2 and carrying some momentum into the weekend. Three or four under for McIlroy, one of the lowest rounds of the day

rory mcilroy

  • Hoffman wasn’t alone in surprising me round 1: Henley and Haas both surprised me as well. Must be the ‘H’s.’
  • How does Tom Watson do it?
  • “…my relationship with it is not the best.” Guess who said this of Augusta National? The ever-pessimist Sergio Garcia, after a great first round. Of course, the quote is taken out of context, but I think an adjustment to optimism might work really well for him. I honestly, cannot imagine him wearing a green jacket. I could see him winning the tournament, then saying, “I didn’t hit the ball that great, I don’t know,” standing there shaking his head as the previous year’s champion¬†stands there, jacket open for him to slide on. I want to cheer for Sergio, I really do. I want him to cheer for himself too.
  • Low for the day round two will be 67. I don’t see anyone going lower than -5, as the course will definitely toughen up.

Great day 1 at Augusta National. Excited for Friday!

P.S. Ernie Els is secretly, the man I am most cheering for to capture a jacket.


Dillon Friday’s thoughts

The opening round of The Masters is always a celebration, as it should be. It is after all the start of major golf season and in some places the first sign of spring. The challenge comes with difficult pin positions Friday and Saturday. Thursday is for good vibes and birdies. That’s what we got yesterday. Here are five things we learned.

1. Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player:

The ceremonious first drive of The Masters might be the most underappreciated event in sports. Player, Palmer, and Nicklaus are beloved figures in golf not only for their accomplishments but also for their tremendous character.

The relationship between them and Augusta is fold. They became legends because of their Green Jackets. At the same time, they helped build the allure of Augusta simply by playing it.

2. Jordan Spieth is exceptional:

Let’s forget his age for a moment, because it’s no longer relevant. Jordan Spieth is one of the best players in the world. Accept it, qualifiers needed.

He leads The Masters after a 64 that by his own admission was less than stellar. Look no further than birdies on 14 and 18. On the 14th, Spieth punched an approach shot just under the branch of a tree. His ball shot through the fairway and smacked the flag stick before settling five feet from the hole. Spieth knocked it in.

On 18, 21-year-old Texan buried a 15-footer to finish 8-under. Here’s my point: Spieth is as sound as any golfer on the course. He can also scramble with the best of them.

Don’t be surprised if the 2016 Champions Dinner will feature hot dogs cut up in mac and cheese. That’s what young people eat, right?

3. Tiger Woods showed enough:

Never mind the 73–the fact that Tiger completed a round of competitive golf is a good sign in itself. More importantly, the yips that plagued him earlier this have left. Woods’ short game was very good on Thursday, which it needed to be to keep him close to the cut line.

Friday, however, will give us a better indication of where TW is at. This I do know: He won’t have to worry about keeping his glutes activated, because, as he said on Wednesday, he worked his ass off in preparation.

4. Tom Watson turns back the clock:

Tom Watson irks me. Part of it is his handling of the Ryder Cup last fall. Part of it is he’s so hard to against at his advanced age. At 65, Watson has no business firing 71’s as he did on Thursday.

That kind of scoring takes all my attention as a sportswriter/fan. I want to see the best story. And Watson winning a third Green Jacket would turn the golf world upside down.

5. ESPN and CBS are setting the bar high:

I love the symbolism of Masters coverage. ESPN and CBS share personalities to provide the best broadcast possible. Two normal rivals come together, just as Augusta National brings us all together (well, modern Augusta National). And both networks do a terrific job.

Mike Tirico is one of the most well-rounded sportscasters in the business. Jim Nantz has become the voice of The Masters. And when Scott Van Pelt and David Feherty work as colleagues, we’re all in. The viewing experience is so good that I’m looking anxiously to the next major. Joe Buck will call the US Open with Greg Norman. I was okay with that before. Now, I’m not so sure.

It has nothing to do with them.¬†It’s just that the bar has been set quite high.