It's been a month since I've stopped by to write, but I've thought about it so many times!! Even with all of the ease of technology, the idea of hunkering down and writing my thoughts just hasn't climbed up the priority list. But this past week, as I was listening to PGA Tour Radio I couldn't help but think a little longer on several topics, events, and controversies that have popped up recently. So while my friend Sam Johnson could call this "scatter shooting", I'm just going to throw out some random thoughts.
The Masters...Oh goodness...what a week!! You would have found me on Twitter sharing some thoughts, and I can't quite believe I didn't follow up with a blog post - I LOVE THE MASTERS!!! From the early week weather, the cancellation of the Par-3 contest, and DJ's tumble down the stairs, there was a lot to talk about even before the first tee shot was hit on Thursday morning.
And then there's the ceremonial first tee shots - Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and missing Arnold Palmer. It was emotional for me to watch and I can only imagine how special it was for those who were there. I also loved that Rickie Fowler was there! (I'm realizing right now that there is so much more I could say about the Masters so I'm going to try to contain it!) The 4 days played out like a drama and I found myself cheering out loud and groaning at missed opportunities.
The Sergio, Justin, Rickie and Jordan groups didn't go as I had expected and the Sunday final 9 holes did not disappoint!!! I loved that Sergio got his first Major and he looks darn good in a Green Jacket. My heart did wander to Steve Stricker many times (and I LOVED that he was a featured group on Masters.com so I watched just about every single one of his shots!)...he was so close to getting another invitation for next year, but alas, he's going to need to find another way to earn his way in. I know it was more than 2 weeks ago, but I've still got the Masters on my mind!
And then...after all that, I read on Twitter that Lexi Thompson has been assessed a 4 stroke penalty and is now in jeopardy of losing the ANA which she had a commanding lead in going into the next round. You've read the articles, you've heard the bloggers and commentators give their 2-cents on it and well, frankly, it still doesn't make sense to me.
One viewer - one viewer, called in after the 3rd round was over and claimed that Lexi did not put her ball in the same spot after marking it on the green. That would result in a 2-stroke penalty...and since it wasn't discovered until after her round was over and her 3rd round scorecard signed, she'd get another 2-stroke penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. They told her as she was heading to the 13th tee and the drama ensued - despite the emotional punch in the gut and hear score changed, she found the composure and will to birdie the next hole and more and had an eagle putt to WIN ANYWAY but alas, was not able to convert. Instead, she tied, going to into a playoff with So Yeon Ryu, eventually losing on the 18th hole.
Since then there has been an unbelievable amount of comments and debates about what happened and how it should be handled. Many PGA players also voiced their opinion, many of them saying Lexi was a victim. But not everyone shared that opinion and several said regardless of how it was found, she did, in fact, breach a rule of golf. The debate about whether a viewer should have the ability to influence a player's score by making a phone in request for a review is still going on. The USGA & the R&A have done some immediate modifications to the rule, but as some have said, it hasn't yet eliminated the phone-in viewer.
I watched her interview earlier this week in Texas and it was still emotional for her...and I get it. Some people have said, "don't worry, this will just make her stronger" - and while that may be the case, my mind keeps telling me that she missing a trophy that she deserved. Oh, the rules of golf...
Fast forward to this weekend!! The Zurich Classic going with 2-man teams with Alternate Shot and Better Ball alternating formats over the 4-days. When I saw the press release several months ago I was excited!! I love team golf (I know some don't) - and while I haven't seen any on TV yet, I did listen a little in the car and it seems like the players are liking it, too!! Interesting teams and I know I need to read up on how some of them came together. SUPER excited to see Stricker and Jerry Kelly on the higher end of the leader board after day one! Loved the comment that last week on the Senior Tour they were the youngest team and this week at the Zurich they are the oldest team...Well, Go Old Guys!!
I haven't swung a golf club yet in 2017, but I feel it coming soon! Mother Nature hasn't exactly been kind in Northern Minnesota the past few weeks, so I hope that means we'll have a summer full of sun! Contemplating a new driver but otherwise house projects trump golf purchases this year (ha, these words will be tested by the end of the season!!).
Oh, how golf makes me happy. I'm smiling right now thinking of friends and fun events coming up and hoping for the same for you. It was nice to be back and jot some thoughts down, even if they might be considered "old news"...but heck, I still think about the Ryder Cup just about every day, so I guess it's nothing new for me.
And I should say I'm excited about setting up the BirdieBall putting green I won in their Masters contest!! It's amazing!! Now it's just finding the right place for it. I'll post pics and a review soon!
Happy Place, here I come!!
It's here, it's here!! I don't know about you, but I've been waiting quite awhile for this week to arrive. I try not to get too excited too early, but this year just feels like there's going to be some great golf and all kinds of players in the mix.
As I'm sure you might have read, one player who won't be in the mix is Tiger Woods. There had been speculation for months on whether he'd be teeing it up or not, but I saw the Tweets that told us he'd be at the Champions dinner but would not be playing.
If you haven't browsed the field yet, you should!
You can find it here: www.masters.com/en_US/players/player_list.html
There are currently 93 players in the field with a chance for someone to punch their ticket to Augusta with a win at the Shell Houston Open.
Not just anyone can get into the Masters...players are invited based on a list of 19 qualifications. The number one criteria is Past Champion. There are 18 past champions currently in the field, 11 of which are playing based solely on their Past Champion status. This is a lifetime invitation!
Other Major Winners receive a 5-year invitation, and this year will be the last year for 2012 British Open Champion Ernie Els, unless he can find another qualification for 2018. Els is currently the 409th ranked player in the world, so it seems his best bet is to finish in the Top 12 at Augusta or in the Top 4 at another Major this year. I'm rooting for him!
All full FedEx Cup points PGA Tournament winners get an invite and there are 9 players heading to the Masters with this as their only qualification...players include, James Hahn, Charley Hoffman, MacKenzie Hughes, Billy Hurley III, Rod Pampling, Pat Perez, Brendan Steele, Brian Stuard, and Hudson Swafford.
Being the Top 50 on the World Golf Ranking (OWGR) gets you an invite, too! Top 50 at the end of 2016 plus, Top 50 the week before the Masters. Four players moved into the Top 50 in 2017 to get their invite...Jeunghun Wang, Hideto Tanihara, Tommy Fleetwood, and Ross Fisher played their way in, with Fleetwood moving from 99th at the end of 2016 to 33rd this past week.
I can't believe I waited this long to bring up my favorite player...Steve Stricker!! Stricker is back at Augusta because of his Top 4 finish at the British Open last year. The only other player making it to the Masters based on a Top 4 finish alone was Daniel Summerhays, who finished 3rd in the PGA Championship last year by carding a -4 (66) in his final round. Summerhays (who I didn't know much about) earned his PGA Tour Card in 2011 and has improved on the money list each year since, earning just over $2 million in 2016, but he's going to need some inspiration this week only making 6 cuts in 11 events so far this season.
A neat thing about the Masters invitee criteria list is that there are 5 qualifications for Amateurs...Amateur Curtis Luck from Australia qualified as the US Amateur and Asia-Pacific Amateur champion...I'm thinking he might be worth watching!
While some players made it based on 1 qualification, there were 3 golfers who made it by qualifying in 7 different categories. Can you guess? They are: Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlory, and Jason Day, with Spieth the only one with a Masters win.
There are currently 18 invitees coming for the first time - can you imagine??!! Amazing! Will we have another qualifying because of a win at the Shell Houston Open?
Regardless of how they qualified, each one of the invitees is in for a week full of challenges, opportunities, and memories. I can't wait to watch it all!!
(More Masters thoughts coming soon!)
I love golf and I love to write, so I can't think of anything better than having a happy place like this to write about golf to my heart's content. Thanks for joining me!