Augusta tee room: Let's get the fax straight and prevent a repeat of Donald farce
21:04 GMT, 6 April 2012
It is perhaps just as well Augusta National does not do embarrassment, otherwise a deep shade of red would be visible on the faces of all those clad in jackets of green.
Honestly, we get used to farces in this game. We have seen men disqualified for not doing much more than looking the wrong way. Now, right up there with the most nonsensical of them, was the ludicrous affair Luke Donald found himself embroiled in after shooting a first-round score of 75.
I have to confess I did not realise people still used fax machines. Did you I thought they had gone the way of the typewriter.
Farce: Luke Donald came close to being disqualified on Thursday
Now we know that fax machines are used at Augusta to transmit the details from the recorder’s hut to the scoring system and a smudge on Donald’s fifth hole meant a three was entered instead of the five he actually scored and for which he signed.
For more than an hour, a 73 was entered into the scoring system for the world No 1 and so the threat of a disqualification hung over his head because everyone had seen him three-putt the fifth. Slowly, and with growing incredulity, we learned the truth of what had happened — the ‘admin error’ as Augusta referred to it and the ridiculousness of it all. The sort of thing that a person of even average intelligence should have been able to sort out in five minutes.
Instead we had this long period of uncertainty while deadlines passed and some idiots started spouting conspiracy theories, even questioning Donald’s integrity at one point when he was utterly blameless. He must have been seething inside at having to hang around all that time.
As if the score he had really shot was not disappointment enough. Just to put the tin lid on this dismal state of affairs, how did we learn Donald had been cleared Yes, you’ve guessed it. His wife tweeted the news.
Come on, Augusta. You can surely do better than this.
Hurry up, Gentlemen
Yes, we know Augusta National is inordinately long and extremely difficult. But an average pace of play for the field of more than five hours All these
people who sit on fancy committees and debate how to make the game more popular always overlook the single most unattractive thing of all: it takes too damn long.
Long haul: The average round at Augusta takes over five hours
You know the saying about the Masters not really beginning until the back nine on Sunday It is not how Augusta National sees it. In a brief to American television commentators, they are requested to refer to the fabled inward half as ‘the second nine’.
The hardest hole on the course Historically speaking, it is the par-four 10th but that has changed in recent years. Nick Faldo’s belief that the first is now the toughest was born out by the statistics from day one, where almost a third of the field made bogey and half a dozen, including Rory McIlroy made worse.
A lav story
Nothing that happens at the Masters escapes the fine team of scribes working for the Augusta Chronicle. To illustrate what I mean, consider that the rebuilding of a brick toilet damaged by Tuesday night’s storm was afforded a story all its own in Friday’s edition. ‘Restroom Recovers Fast,’ was the memorable headline.
Main man: Lee Westwood played it just right on the opening day
Non-golfers must have been mystified by Lee Westwood’s reference to
Augusta as a ‘second-shot golf course’, so let’s explain what he meant.
The straightest driver on day one, Scott Stallings, barely made the top 10. The longest hitter, Sean O’Hair, didn’t finish in the top 40. The best putter, Phil Mickelson, shot 74. But the man who hit the most greens in regulation — the one who hit the best second shots, in other words — sat proudly on top of the leaderboard.
How difficult is it to judge the greens Think about it this way. During the course of his momentous last year, the game’s best putter Luke Donald went more than 430 holes without a single three-putt. In the first round of the 76th Masters, he had two in a row. All told, the field averaged almost one three-putt each.
They like a piece of crystal at Augusta with players receiving a pair of goblets for every eagle they make while the par-three winner gets a crystal bowl. Even before the weekend, therefore, Ireland’s Padraig Harrington had added to his trophy cabinet by nabbing both.