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2005 MASTERS - IN REVIEW

MASTERS OFF TO A SLOPPY START - April 7, 2005 - My goodness, this weather is unrelenting! Once again, Mother Nature has shown an ugly face and dampened spirits, this time at Augusta. The first round of The Masters suffered through a five and one-half rain delay. After getting underway in the afternoon most of the field was still on the course when play was suspended at approximately 7:20 PM. In spite of the dark gray skies and soggy conditions several of the world’s top players got off to a good start. Chris Dimarco leads with a four under score through 14 holes playing on the front side when play was suspended. Three of the Fantastic Five are tied at minus two;. Number five ranked Retief Goosen, fourth ranked Phil Mickelson and number one in the world, Vijay Singh. Second ranked Tiger Woods was plus two through twelve holes having started on 10 and third ranked Ernie Els as at plus three through 11 also starting on the back side.

USA/CBS covered Tiger Woods ad nauseam as they insisted on showing his every shot even at a struggling plus two and then covering his walk between holes while we waited as much as 20 minutes to see the other top players in the world hit a shot. When will the television media learn that there are others in golf that viewers want to watch besides Tiger. Quite frankly gentleman, I don’t think this tournament was named for Tiger Woods. He is a great player but he is not the only player in the world of golf. In my opinion this over-exposure is not in Tiger's best interest.

The first round will resume on Friday, weather permitting, at 9:45 AM. Some of the leading and best known golfers and their scores are shown:

Player  Versus Par  Holes Played

C. Dimarco  -4  5*
L. Donald  -3  5*
R. Goosen  -2  13
P. Mickelson  -2  11
V. Singh  -2  11
S. Appleby  -2  11
P. Harrington  E  14
S. Cink  E  13
A. Scott  E  11
T. Woods  +2  12*
E. Els  +3  11*
J. Nicklaus  +4  12
J. Daly  +4  11*

Former champion Billy Casper shot 106 which included a 14 at the par 3, 16th. 

*Started on back nine

GOD WILLING AND THE CREEK DON'T RISE - April 8, 2005 - Well, if God is willing and Rae's Creek don't rise too much, the 2005 version of The Masters will get going again on Saturday. The rain and thunder bumpers have severely interrupted play so that only a few holes were completed today, Friday, April 8th, 2005. Most of the field was attempting to finish their first 18 while only a small number teed off on their second round dodging puddles of water and lightning strikes. So this mumbo-jumbo affair of stop and go, stop and go competition seems similar to each of the preceding weeks on tour. Not much was accomplished today as the day was pretty much a wash out.

Here are the leaders thus far: Englishmen David Howell and Luke Donald are at minus five. Howell has played 26 holes while Donald, the Northwestern University graduate, has only completed 20 holes. Chris Dimarco dropped another shot against par and is at minus five through 19 completed holes. Other leaders include Vijay Singh at four under through 18 holes, Mark Hensby and Stuart Appleby, both Australians, at minus three. Hensby has completed 25 holes while Appleby has played 18 holes. Kirk Triplett got hot on his second 18 and is two under through 26 and five under on the day. Mickelson has completed his first round and waits at two under through 18. Other members of the Fantastic Five are Retief Goosen at even par through 21 holes, Tiger Woods who stands plus two after 19 holes and Ernie Els who is plus three after 18.

The plan for Saturday is to resume play at 8:30 in the morning, complete round two, make the cut and then begin round three in mid-afternoon. Weather forecasts for Saturday look much better so it appears the field can catch up and finish the third round before Sunday. It is much too early to get a feel for how things are developing but you have to be impressed by young Luke Donald who is at minus five. If you remember, he finished a strong second two weeks ago at the Players Championship.

THE SUNSHINES AND TIGER LURKS
- April 9, 2005 - Tiger Woods is charging with nine hole scores of 33, 33, and 31 to post -11 through his 27 holes today at Augusta National on a day when the sun came out and shown brightly to erase the memory of the first two days of darkness and rain. His magnificent play at The Masters allowed him to gain significantly on the field and second round leader, Chris Dimarco, in particular. But...Dimarco is not surrendering as he played 27 holes at minus eight. So we have a shootout, but not between the Fantastic Five, but between Dimarco at -13, Tiger Woods at -9 and Thomas Bjorn at -8. Number one ranked, Vijay Singh, finished the day at -4 while fourth ranked, Mickelson, is hanging in at three under but with a real challenge left over the final 26 holes. Other members of the top five ranked players, Els and Goosen have seemingly played their way out of the tournament. With scoring made easier with the soft greens and warm temperatures the number of golfers under par on Saturday doubled from nine to 18.

So can Dimarco stay on top? Last year he played in the last pairing with Mickelson and went four over to let a great opportunity slip away. Chris is a passionate competitor. He cherishes the head to head match-ups at events like the Presidents Cup, the Ryder's Cup and the majors. He is not someone to dismiss easily. He can play! So let's see if he can hang in and whip a charging Tiger Woods. Singh and Mickelson have an outside chance but they must go low over 27 holes. Keep in mind that everyone has to play the back nine twice tomorrow. That means they each have a chance at the eagle prone, par fives (13 & 15) on the back side, twice. So watch out, as anything can happen. To me, it looks like Tiger just might win his fourth green jacket but I am certainly not rooting against Floridian, Dimarco.

Jack Nicklaus tearfully waved to his fans as he closed out round two in a manner indicating this was the end. He later announced he just could not compete at Augusta any longer and was retiring from competitive golf. He said the course was just too long for him, now at age 65. He will be sorely missed. As Lanny Watkins put it on CBS, "hearing Jack say he is retiring makes me feel old". Don't we all, Lanny, don't we all.

TIGER TAKES FOURTH MASTERS TITLE - April 10, 2005 - Tiger Woods fought off a face-off with Chris Dimarco in the final round and sank a 15 foot birdie putt on the first place off hole to win his fourth green jacket and his ninth major title and he did so at the age of 29.

Tiger played the third round at 65 to take the lead finishing Sunday morning. In sculpting his third round Tiger managed to birdie an incredible seven consecutive holes. He played holes seven through 13 at seven under par which catapulted him into the lead as Dimarco was struggling to a five over back nine (41) in the morning hours. The final 18 had Dimarco and Woods paired together in the last group and these two pretty much ran off by themselves for the remainder of the day. Over the last 18, Tiger managed a one under 71 while Dimarco challenged with a strong finish and a 68 to tie Woods at minus 12. The door was opened by Tiger to allow Dimarco to catch him by posting bogies at the last two holes. On 18, Tiger missed a 11 foot putt for par while Chris makes a par putt after chipping close from below the front of the green. Off to a sudden death playoff replaying the 18th.

This time Chris came up short of the green again from the fairway on his second and Tiger nailed his eight iron approach to within 12 feet. Dimarco hit a terrific chip again from in front to within a tap-in range. Tiger, after stalking the hole from every angle, finally hit his putt softly and watched as it rolled over the lip for the win. Tiger and his caddie Steve celebrated, as usual, with fist pumps and high fives.

My hat is off to Chris Dimarco for the way he battled and especially over the last nine holes. He was unrelenting in his pursuit of a green jacket but it was just not to be. For the second year in a row he has been in the final pairing on Sunday only to watch someone else take the big prize. You have to think that this man will eventually win himself a Masters or a major title somewhere in the world. He is a fighter and has the intestinal fortitude, and game, to battle any of the world's great golfers.

What can you say about Tiger Woods? He has rebuilt his swing and worked hard to get back to the top after a couple of years in repose. The shot he hit on 16 this PM will go down as one of the great shots of all time. If you missed it you'll see a replay, I promise. He just has that extra something deep down inside that is necessary to become one of the games greats. It is almost as if Tiger was miffed at all the hoopla about the "Big Four" or the "Fantastic Five" and he wanted to show the world of golf who is the real boss, who is number one...and he is number one, once again. One thing for sure is the world of golf has some really great players going at each other week after week. We will see over the coming months if the top players in the world are still capable of combating a "new" Tiger Woods. Isn't this great entertainment?

Of the top five ranked players in the world, all finished in the red numbers except Ernie Els who was 47th out of 50. I picked Els to win which shows you what I know.


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