Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Steve Elling Nails It Down, With a Shout Out

Steve Elling at CBS Sports puts a different set of words on what I have been saying: Please bring back the old Augusta!

After a cold snap last season pushed the winning score to over par for the second time in tournament history, the breezes on Sunday's final round turned it into another blowout victory for the increasingly difficult course.

Yes, the winds put the gust in Augusta, but let's be frank here and not mince words or use haughty synonyms. This makes two consecutive years in which the winner was identified not because he mounted a heroic run down the stretch, but because he made the fewest mistakes and lost the least plasma.

Put another way, eventual winner Trevor Immelman started the day with a two-shot lead, matched the highest final round in Masters history with a closing 75, and actually expanded his margin, winning by three over Tiger Woods.

Stop the badness.
To the point that I made earlier last week about the lowest possible score being 67:
Forever reviewing data on how players have toured the club's famously rolling hills, it's time to dial it back a few years, remove some more trees and move up some tees. Because, the course was soft and seemingly susceptible to low scoring for three days, and the lowest number posted was a 5-under 67.

Ah, for the days when guys like Nick Price shot 63 at Augusta and made it exciting. Seems like only ... decades ago. If those numbers are the best the game's best players can produce under seemingly optimal conditions, and all it takes is gusting wind to make the course borderline unplayable, then the new and improved Augusta is just too damned hard.
And the shout out part - sort of - based off of my column from Sunday:
"We've got them all in the honey holes," said Fred Ridley, chief of the ANGC competition committee, shortly before the leaders teed off Sunday.

Yeah, but the course itself was still a bear. Ridley, it has been sarcastically noted elsewhere, was once the president of the USGA, where extreme course set-ups that cross the line have become the stuff of legend over the years. But in fairness, the changes to Augusta pre-date Ridley's arrival.
I was fair on my point, though, and did not ridicule him for what has happened to ANGC. It has just been funny that the two years in which the largest roar has been the collective complaints about the course and setup are under the Ridley watch.

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