PGA Tour: The Masters - Never Mind The Width, Feel The Quality: Notes from the Ballwasher

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Post by kwinigolfer on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 3:50 pm

(One of our regular golf posters frequently writes amazing articles on the major events going on in the golfing world. v2 poster McLaren has suggested that as The Masters is underway, that you might all want to share in the debate - Enjoy!
Adam D)

Kwinigolfer wrote:

1).When has there ever been a Masters when so many top golfers came to Augusta at the peak of their form, or very close to it? The field of 89 may be the smallest for 14 years, and at least 20 amateurs or ceremonial entrants are irrelevant, but cases could easily be made for dozens of others, strong cases for at least a dozen.

2).I watched an old BBC documentary last night about the music and life of the great Ronnie Lane, and Kenney Jones came up with an especially bon mot that surely also seems to apply to writers talking about The Masters. Talking about speaking by phone to a dying Ronnie in Colorado, Kenney said words to the effect of:
"Ronnie, I know you can't talk to me so I'm going to ask questions that I think you'd ask me, and then I'll answer them." Brilliant. Apparently Ronnie was lying there in hysterics!
But isn't that just like writers, and especially "tourists" from other sports, regurgitating the same old stories about the same old stars? The same old Rory this, Jordan that, Jason the other, rhetorical crap??

3).First, the field. Should it be even smaller, eliminating the seniors and amateurs? Not in my book, with some caveats. Some of the amateur qualifications might seem a tad/lot contrived, but I like the Past Champion exemption, so long as there's some performance criteria attached - even if it's five strikes (missed cuts in a row) and you're out. Celebrating Past Champions is part of the appeal to the "patrons"; this year's Rounds 1 & 2 will be a lovefest for Tom Watson. Perhaps O'Meara and Mize, Lyle and Woosie will stay at home soon but you can see the likes of Couples, Langer and Vijay playing until they get kicked out.
Next year the 2016 Olympic winner will also be exempt, as he will be for all four Majors.

4).Who would you include in the Field to make it more competitive? I would say Pieters has a strong case, but he's about the only one. Aussie Open Champ Matt Jones should be there, and he would have been if he hadn't pretty much tanked the past few months, so no sympathy there. Any others?

5).Unluckiest guy not to be competing is surely David Clark. Carried Adam Scott's bag to his most successful run for two or three years but shoved aside for Steve Williams in the Majors.

6).Who do you fancy? I'll look beyond the Top Three. Just something about Jason Day but wouldn't be shocked if he ran away like Spieth did last year.
Spieth doesn't seem quite at ease with his game and would be surprised if he wins here again, this year anyway.
And Rory (hole in one on #16 yesterday!) seems a bit Sergio-like right now; just when he looks like he's moving into top gear, he hits a mental speed bump of sorts, plus his putting has been unconvincing, to say the least. His stroke looks OK so does he just have trouble reading greens, even with that laser surgery?

7).Continental Europe hasn't seen a Masters winner for almost twenty years and I can't see that changing, much as I'd like to see Stenson win the Major he perhaps deserves. The head-cover is coming off Henrik's driver this week so that's a welcome(?) tactical switch.
And GB&I are lacking convincing form, tho' Casey and Rose seem to reserve some of their best weeks for Augusta.
The Asian contingent could surprise but question marks against their best players persist: Matsuyma's putting, Ben An's neck (he reckons he hasn't hit full shots since w/d'ing from his WGC Match vs Cabrera Bello).

8).Branden Grace had a fabulous season last year, but he's missed his past two Masters cuts and doesn't seem to be in top form just yet. But Oosthuizen and Schwartzel have been flying and both seem great each way bets.
Interesting that Phil Mickelson has overtaken Woods as leading Masters money winner; can Phil's chances ever be dismissed here? In decent form all year and certainly in my top five, along with Bubba. Rickie Fowler is a popular choice in the US media but I'll look past him and prefer Dustin Johnson and Snedeker as well as Bubba among the Americans. (No American under the age of 35 has won a PGA Tournament since Spieth three months ago in Hawaii, other than Finau in the opposite field event anyhow.)

9).Which leaves Adam Scott; one month ago no-one was playing better than Scott & Watson, and even with Excitable Boy bagman Williams keeping him company rather than the calming influence of Clark, I like Adam Scott a lot. Top Five then for moi with PP odds (e.w. paying top 7!):
Scott (11/1), Watson (11/1), Mickelson (18/1), Oosthuizen (33/1), Schwartzel (35/1). Rose top Brit, Kisner top rookie and Snedeker best outsider (55/1). Regional loyalties compel the choice of Derek Bard as leading amateur.    

10).The Masters throws up some surprising groupings and it's a shame that they haven't taken advantage of the smaller field to send them out in pairs for Rounds 1 & 2.
Who do you think they'll send out with Tom Watson? Snedeker perhaps, and a youngster would be my guess.
One of the most anticipated groupings of recent years was: Who will be playing with Woods following his Mississippi rehab in 2010? Do you remember who they chose??
For the next five days I'll accept The Masters for what it is and enjoy the action; chance of rain on Thursday and cool and breezy every day thru Saturday. Perfect forecast for Sunday and I can't wait. Enjoy!

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Post by I'm never wrong on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 4:05 pm

Good one as usual Kwini. I agree with you about the following:-
Point 1 - Smallest field - you would think that The Masters would be the best chance for top players to win a major as they have less opposition. But it is Augusta, after all.
Point 3 - Agree with performance critieria.
Point 4 - Agree, but don't know if anyone is burning up the courses at the moment. Mac might suggest Lydia Ko. Very Happy
Point 9 - PP odds are only 1/5th to seventh place (E/W). Main bookies are 1/4 to fifth place, I found an independent 1/4 to 6th place.

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Post by LadyPutt on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 4:06 pm

Good read, Kwini. Oddly enough I just can't get excited about this. Might do come the weekend but I think there's too much hype and the fawning TV coverage (especially when they have Jack as a guest in the studio and, probably, Woods this year at some point) has me reaching for a bucket vomit

What did you make of the T20 final? Felt so sorry for poor Stokesy but we should have scored more runs so the bowlers weren't under so much pressure. Would have helped if those two catches had gone to hand, too!
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Post by hend085 on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 4:13 pm

great writeup Kwini thanks.

what leads you to think Stenson will have the driver out?!


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Post by kwinigolfer on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 4:21 pm

Thanks all,

Stenson quoted on golfchannel.com: "I need to play a bit more aggressive. This is definitely a golf course where I will air the driver more than a regular week."
Comments invited from Henrik in the context of him playing with Spieth at Augusta last year and seeing first-hand his success.


LP: Wasn't able to watch it. But heartbreaking for Stokes. Still, don't you feel he's one character who has the personality to sulk for five minutes and then get straight back at it? Looks a resilient lad to me.

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Post by Bob_the_Job on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 4:29 pm

Cheers Kwini...

General - say what you like about the Master, but with the whole patrons thing, caddies in white overalls, past champions, contrived amateur invitees - it makes it a bit different to most other weeks and that in itself is interesting.

4 - I don't know about inclusions to make it more competitive, but years when there is an odd number qualified, a wild card to a "future potential star of Augusta" or a "player's lottery draw" would make a nice random addition.

6 - You're point re Rory being a Sergio.. one big difference.. Rory has 4 majors already, but otherwise I agree - he's not 100% at the moment.

8 - Oosthuizen was pretty poor in Huston.
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Post by super_realist on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 4:32 pm

Calling spectators "patrons" is incredibly pretentious though.
I do like the Masters, but those involved do love themselves rather too much and it shows.


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Post by kwinigolfer on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 5:16 pm

Not for the short of sight but:

https://twitter.com/JayCoffinGC/status/717382664970493952

Masters tee-times. Looks like Charley Hoffman and Lee Westwood have drawn the Tom Watson straw.

This is better:

http://www.pgatour.com/news/2016/04/04/masters-tee-times.html

If the forecast is anything to go by, Rory, with the final tee-time (with Kaymer & Haas) on Thursday, might have the best of Thursday's conditions, at least in that any rain is expected to subside by early afternoon.
Some very attractive threesomes but they DO spread the wealth around the course, don't they? None of this "group 1, 2, 3 together" like the USGA is prone to do.



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Post by kwinigolfer on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 7:04 pm

Bob,
6).Re McIlroy: I DID say "right now"!

8).Can't imagine Louis would have played if he hadn't already committed. Probably glad of the weekend off and would think he was just trying to get his tournaments in for the year, possibly Sergio too, though you can't be so sure with him in his current form.

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Post by GPB on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 9:30 pm

#10,

Woods' Grouping:
Kuchar and Choi

IMO, It would be an honor to play with Watson in his last Masters.

Sandy Lyle's caddy this week is fellow Champions Tour player, Esteban Toledo.  Toledo has never been to the Masters before so a nice gesture from Sandy to invite him.

Incidentally, David Duval spoke glowingly about Sandy Lyle on Golf Channel today.  He said Sandy was one of the nicest people he has ever met in golf.  

My early pick to win  is Rickie Fowler. 

It looks to me like the Early - Late Tee Times will have the advantage.  They will have more rain to contend with less wind.

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Post by skiddy on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 10:06 pm

I find the Masters the most boring, tedious,self indulgent and worst televised tournament of the year. I used to get excited before it every year until I remembered just how bad the tv coverage. Commentators repeating the same old cliches again and again. "The tournament doesn't start until the back 9 of the master" etc. The word "patrons" used about 1000 times per broadcast.
Watching the same geriatrics walk up the 18th in their zimmer frames and making a triple bogey for the 40th year in a row.
Im a big fan of golf but cant stand the masters. Will only be watching if an Irish player is in contention.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 1:16 am

You got it, GPB.

Yup, mentioned Toledo last week - who was it he was going to caddie for last year? Can't recall.


Here's the Champions Dinner menu, Jordan Spieth's selection:

https://twitter.com/RyanLavnerGC/status/717489150778277888

Wouldn't be my choice; skiddy, perhaps you could show it to Shane, might prove an incentive for him, knowing that he can dictate the menu, and the amounts, for next year. If he wins.


What would you all choose?

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Post by Roller_Coaster on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 9:51 am

Meat and potato pasty bap (or barm or bread roll or bun depending on whereabouts you are). No room for starters or puddings around that, although a little bit of space for your indigestion remedy of choice may be required.

Anyhoo - I love the Masters for what it is. Stunning. Don't care about the pretentiousness of the place, the sycophancy around past champions, whosoever they may be, calling punters patrons, idiosyncratic pins/tees/approach shots. Whatever. It's just great. It has sublime to ridiculous golf (often by the same player on the same hole). It's an unofficial start to the golfing year in the most sublime on-course surroundings imaginable. A bubble of unreal magnificence away from the world.

Christ, even Super says he likes the Masters (obviously with caveats, but something positive is in there nonetheless!)

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Post by super_realist on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 9:56 am

Still deciding whether to get a Now TV weekend pass. I do enjoy watching and it gives me a bit of inspiration at the start of a season.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 10:18 am

Good call Roller,
I'll go with the steak, kidney and oyster pie from the Bushel & Strike, plus plenty of great cheeses.

Rain now expected to hit Augusta before play starts Thursday morning, could be gone through there by the time Nicklaus & Player hit the first drives. But the wind is still likely to be a factor thru' Saturday.

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Post by Scottrf on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 10:27 am

I'm never wrong wrote:Good one as usual Kwini. I agree with you about the following:-
Point 1 - Smallest field - you would think that The Masters would be the best chance for top players to win a major as they have less opposition. But it is Augusta, after all.
Point 3 - Agree with performance critieria.
Point 4 - Agree, but don't know if anyone is burning up the courses at the moment. Mac might suggest Lydia Ko. Very Happy
Point 9 - PP odds are only 1/5th to seventh place (E/W). Main bookies are 1/4 to fifth place, I found an independent 1/4 to 6th place.
Skybet are 1/4 to 8.

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Post by raycastleunited on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 10:33 am

Great writing kwini.

My favourite tournament of the year. Probably because we all know the course so well and therefore have a better understanding of what challenges await on each hole. I also have great memories from around the course, Tiger's chip on 16, Louis' albatross (sorry double eagle) on 2. For example, watching from behind the tee on 2, I'm looking for a draw to set up a second shot to the green, and the same familiarity throughout the course helps my viewing enjoyment.

It also traditionally kick starts the golfing season. The weather starts to warm up, the courses become more enjoyable as the greens improve, watching the perfection of Augusta makes me desperate to get out and play. The fact that my own home course shares many design similarities only adds to this excitement.

As for the schmaltz, I think it's easy to look past the "tourists" from other sports. I won't watch the BBC preview programe or read articles in the Metro newspaper because they are aimed at ocasional fans who don't follow or play the game. Plenty of broadcasts / articles aimed at the more committed golf fans.

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Post by raycastleunited on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 10:37 am

If I was picking the champions' dinner, I would go with a traditional English meal: chicken tikka masala, lamb biryiani, saag aloo, pilau rice and naan bread, washed down with pints of cobra or kingfisher.

I'd love to see Fuzzy and Hootie choking on the lime pickle with their poppadum.

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Post by super_realist on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 10:43 am

Think I'd make it a lot hotter than a Masala Ray. Something that would blow the socks off those fat yanks.

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Post by SmithersJones on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 10:55 am

BBC appear to have live coverage at the weekend. I thought they'd given that up?
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Post by I'm never wrong on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 10:57 am

super_realist wrote:Still deciding whether to get a Now TV weekend pass. I do enjoy watching and it gives me a bit of inspiration at the start of a season.
Super - BBC are showing live coverage at the WEEKEND

EdIt - SmithersJones had the same thought. Very Happy

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Post by super_realist on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 10:59 am

I suppose that might be an alternative to the constant breaks for betting companies on Sky.

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Post by MontysMerkin on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 11:19 am

and no money goes to that c0cksucking weasel murdoch. reason enough.
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Post by McLaren on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 11:35 am

Nice work kwini. thumbsup


Surprised that you would rather see the old duffers invited over amateurs who have at least achieved some sort of merit in recent times.


I guess Adam Scott feels that Stevie-G was there when he won his only major and assumes he offers a winning edge in the biggest events that other caddies can't. Seems odd to me especially when you have won twice on tour by April.


Spieth's meal sounded ok, how bad can a bbq be? I guess if I were to pick something British or Scottish I would go for Shepherd's pie or maybe lobster and chips.
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Post by kwinigolfer on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 11:47 am

Mac,
I reckon some of the Amateur entries are solely for commercial reason, to line Augusta National's pockets - and, as far as I can see, the USGA Mid-Amateur champ doesn't even get invited to the USGA's own Open.
The "old duffer" comments could just as easily apply to the R&A & PGA remember, just "celebrated" more at Augusta.

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Post by McLaren on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 11:49 am

What is with the bbc weekend live coverage? I only found out last week that they still had this. Was there a change of mind this year, as I thought last year was meant to be their last?


We probably shouldn't pollute this with another pro/anti bbc debate but I will say that I love the bbc masters coverage. ken Brown and Andrew Cotter are the best golf commentators in the UK.
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Post by McLaren on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 11:53 am

Kwini

I would happily limit all the Majors to 5 year exemptions for the winners.

Also, I have no doubt the amateur invitation system could be better. But I would keep it to ensure that the more traditional amateur events remain relevant in a world of college golf and amateur world rankings. Although I wouldn't really care if they just invited the top 5 in the amateur world rankings to the majors, I guess it would at least reward consistent play and not just a good week.
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Post by McLaren on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 11:57 am

Mods: I assume no one liked my idea of making Kwini's major (other big event) ballwashers a global sticky?

might have been a good way to get traffic to the golf section during a time golf will be getting more attention in general.
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Post by super_realist on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 12:32 pm

Mac, I think a 3 year exemption would be sufficient. Look at some of the Major winners in the last 5 years and where they are now, they aren't really deserving of a spot in even a Mid Week Sweep, let alone a major.

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Post by sirbenson on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 12:36 pm

kwinigolfer wrote:Thanks all,

Stenson quoted on golfchannel.com: "I need to play a bit more aggressive. This is definitely a golf course where I will air the driver more than a regular week."
Comments invited from Henrik in the context of him playing with Spieth at Augusta last year and seeing first-hand his success.

About time Stenson realised he needed to be more aggressive in majors and hit more drivers, he was doing it last week I presume with this week in mind.


Kwini do you have a link to an hourly weather forecast for the Masters? I can't find a reliable one tbh!

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Post by McLaren on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 12:37 pm

During the Shell Stenson regularly beat the longest drive of the day on particular holes using his three wood. Does using driver really help if you are already that long with the three wood?
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Post by pedro on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 12:39 pm

raycastleunited wrote:If I was picking the champions' dinner, I would go with a traditional English meal: chicken tikka masala, lamb biryiani, saag aloo, pilau rice and naan bread, washed down with pints of cobra or kingfisher.

I'd love to see Fuzzy and Hootie choking on the lime pickle with their poppadum.
Very Happy

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Post by pedro on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 12:41 pm

Poor Branden Grace. Paired with Bubba and Poulter.

Wonder what Bubba will make of that though? Could easily be put off.

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Post by sirbenson on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 12:42 pm

McLaren wrote:During the Shell Stenson regularly beat the longest drive of the day on particular holes using his three wood.  Does using driver really help if you are already that long with the three wood?

Well the distance Jason Day, Bubba, Dj to name a few can get with the driver is an advantage over Stenson if he doesn't use his driver imo!

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Post by super_realist on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 12:42 pm

Watson has played a lot with Poulter.

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Post by sirbenson on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 12:43 pm

I think Bubba and Ian used to be really good friends!? That maybe wrong haha!!

Weird that Poulter is still getting in groups with the top players considering his form over the last year or two.

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Post by super_realist on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 12:45 pm

Not that weird. Can you imagine the groups 9C will get in if he comes back? Not likely to put him out with Jeff Overton and an amateur are they?

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Post by sirbenson on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 12:47 pm

Tiger Woods has done a lot more winning than Poulter but yes fair point!

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Post by Shotrock on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 12:48 pm

That meal looked really good to me ... although real Texas barbecue would never be paired with wine!

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Post by super_realist on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 12:49 pm

It would be funny to win the Masters and just not turn up for the poncy dinner.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 12:49 pm

sirbenson:
Hourly forecast for Augusta as per by the Weather Channel:

https://weather.com/weather/hourbyhour/l/USGA0032:1:US

Just use the arrow at the foot of the hour-by-hour forecast for incremental 8-hour projections.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 12:51 pm

I wash my bbq down with Heady Toppers - too bad about the rest of you, Jordan Spieth too.
(Plus would never choose California wine unless on a Sideways jaunt - not much choice then.)

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Post by sirbenson on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 12:52 pm

kwinigolfer wrote:sirbenson:
Hourly forecast for Augusta as per by the Weather Channel:

https://weather.com/weather/hourbyhour/l/USGA0032:1:US

Just use the arrow at the foot of the hour-by-hour forecast for incremental 8-hour projections.

Thanks Kwini!

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Post by kwinigolfer on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 1:44 pm

Just out of curiosity, I looked at the professionals in the 2016 Masters field to see who might be in danger of competing at Augusta National for the final time, unless they have a good week this week or revive their playing fortunes considerably.
Only golfers ranked 60th or worse in the owg rankings included, and recent winners plus under-thirties are omitted:
Poulter
Westwood
D.Clarke
McDowell
Merritt
Bowditch
K.Bradley
Mahan
Streelman
LoveIII

One or two of these will surely be back but others' Masters careers may be coming to a premature(?) end.

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Post by raycastleunited on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 1:48 pm

McLaren wrote:What is with the bbc weekend live coverage?  I only found out last week that they still had this.  Was there a change of mind this year, as I thought last year was meant to be their last?

Guys it's the Open where the BBC have decided to pull out. Masters coverage wasn't part of that deal, although I'm sure 2016 will be the last year we see live coverage on the beeb.

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Post by McLaren on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 2:04 pm

Kwini

An interesting list which highlights the recent demise of Europe's top players of the the last 10 years. But having won already this season I would hope Gmac could start to rack up some more OWGR points over the summer.

Would you agree that Clarke effectively made the decision to retire after his open win?

Keegan Bradley quickly joining the list of the most flash in the pan major winners. Such a strange demise for him.
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Post by super_realist on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 2:15 pm

I see Clarke's Open a bit like Ivanisevic' Wimbledon victory, both were their first (and last) major coming near the end of their careers, the ultimate ambition for both, not surprising that both lost a bit of focus and unable to scale further heights.

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Post by McLaren on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 2:21 pm

Super

Nothing wrong with that.
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Post by kwinigolfer on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 2:52 pm

Agree Mac, Hopefully McDowell will be back, but his form this year seems to have regressed again after success last autumn.
I think Bradley will revert to being a journeyman pro until he can get over the loss of his anchoring. Mahan is the big surprise for me, always such a good ball-striker but he's lost his way, especially with John Wood abandoning him.

Of course, Luke Donald would be on this list, or should have been last year, not even qualified this time.

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Post by I'm never wrong on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 3:00 pm

One for you, Mac Click here
(Super, look away, it's about Tiger)

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