Wednesday, April 4, 2007


I can't believe it's finally here: The Masters® tournament!

I don't care if you hate Jim Nantz but his hyperbole is apropo: there is nothing like this golf tournament, golf course, golf broadcast, the golf tradition. Period. And you're probably bored of me saying that. Okay, yeah, the green jacket is ugly but it's the most notable sports award next to the Stanley Cup.

As it did two years ago it lands on Easter weekend, which gives me a convenient excuse to leave work early the next two days. Back in 2005, on Easter Sunday evening I was literally pulling out of my parents driveway at their house in Maine to when my mom ran out to stop me. I had no idea what was going on, I thought I had left something important in the house; it turned out that she wanted to tell me about a shot Tiger had just made: that famous chip-in on the 16th hole that dramatically hung on the lip before plunking in for a birdie (BROUGHT TO YOU BY NIKE). That drive back to NY was irritating because golf isn't really sports radio fodder (I had to put up with the WEEI Boston yahoos talking Sawx baseball). I didn't realize Tiger had bogeyed the final two holes to create a playoff scenario with DiMarco until I got about an hour closer to home, and could just barely hear Steve Somers on WFAN. Anyway, this time around I took off Monday so I can watch it all on my parents' 42" HDTV. That's right, I'm not kidding around.

Hey, this is the MASTERS®, dammit, the only major that's got a registered trademark. Let's break it down.

Name: Augusta National, Augusta, GA
Par: 72
Yardage: 7,445

4/5 - 4:00-7:00 pm: 1st round (USA/UniversalHD)
4/6 - 4:00-7:00 pm: 2nd round (USA/UniversalHD)
4/7 - 3:30-7:00 pm: 3rd round (CBS HD)
4/8 - 2:30-7:00 pm: Final round (CBS HD)

The difference with this HD broadcast and all the others is that every camera is HD and they use fiberoptic cables buried throughout the golf course, and the results are simply stunning (suck it, NBC!). The online coverage will once again include Amen Corner Live, and an extra hour of coverage before TV coverage. Yes, they do it right. Oh, and NONE of it is on ESPN (suck it, Worldwide Loser!).

Just check out the heavy hitters in these opening threesomes:

[10:23 am] Mike Weir, Henrik Stenson
[10:34 am] Fred Couples, Ernie Els, Geoff Ogilvy
[10:56 am] Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott
[11:07 am] Charles Howell III, Jose Maria Olazabal, Justin Rose
[ 1:41 pm] Padraig Harrington, Luke Donald

Other notables: [10:45 am] Sergio Garcia, [11:51 pm] Jim Furyk, [12:57 pm] Retief Goosen, [ 2:03 pm] Vijay Singh

Tiger 12th green Augusta 4-3-07 REUTERS Shaun BTHE FIELD
Some guy named "Tiger Woods" tees off at 1:53 pm. What a silly name! He might as well be "Leopard Irons" or "Elephant Sandtrap". Well, I guess it's better than his real name: ELDRICK! Man, if he hadn't spent his entire childhood on the golf course, just imagine the teasing he'd get at school. Anyway, this kid might have a chance to win.

So let's start with who won't win it: Retief Goosen (too many times he's let me down), Adam Scott (too shaky with the putter), Charles Howell III (stank at the Ryder Cup), Mike Weir (too Canadian). And Ian Poulter is trying to out-ugly the field by wearing stupid looking hats that match his shirt. Good lord.

As for the potential winners, Vertullo came up with an interesting pool: choose 2 US players not named "Tiger", 1 European, and 1 other, all must make the cut, lowest composite score wins. Here's who I'm going with:

Phil "FIGJAM" Mickelson. Yes, Phillis is a no-brainer pick, but I respect him more for losing 15-20 pounds in the off-season (which gets shorter each year). I was secretly hoping he'd shave his head and start cursing up a storm, yelling at the gallert like Monty on steroids. At the very least I wish he would wipe that geeky smile off his face.

Brett "Slippery When" Wetterich. I almost chose Jim "Hitch" Furyk, but I can't watch him putt anymore. I went down the list of uninspiring U.S. players and decided on him because he played well at the Doral and the Honda. Big hitter, but his accuracy and putting aren't great.

Paddy "Whisky" Harrington. This is the last time I pick him. Seriously. And I almost chose Sergio "Los Pantalones Feos" Garcia instead, so don't make me regret it Padraig!

Robert "Good Show" Allenby. This Aussie has been in the top 10 in 6 of 7 events this year, and he's 12th in driving distance, a boon at Augusta.

This Final Four is sure to suck just like my NCAA picks. Anyway, it's like Xmas eve, can't wait for it to start! Enjoy.


1) Tea Olive - Par 4, 455
2) Pink Dogwood - Par 5, 575
3) Flowering Peach - Par 4, 350
4) Flowering Crab Apple - Par 3, 240
5) Magnolia - Par 4, 455
6) Juniper - Par 3, 180
7) Pampas - Par 4, 450
8) Yellow Jasmine - Par 5, 570
9) Carolina Cherry - Par 4, 460
10) Camellia - Par 4, 495
11) White Dogwood - Par 4, 505
12) Golden Bell - Par 3, 155
13) Azalea - Par 5, 510
14) Chinese Fir - Par 4, 440
15) Firethorn - Par 5, 530
16) Redbud - Par 3, 170
17) Nandina - Par 4, 440
18) Holly - Par 4, 465

(It's supposed to be around 60 and sunny down there. Meanwhile, it's going to be brutally cold around here, not getting higher than 40 in Maine all weekend. But at least I can dream about playing golf soon.)

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