Adam Scott sheds ‘choker’ label to capture Green Jacket at Masters

Adam-Scott-Green-JacketAdam Scott has been one of the most promising young golfers in the world since he turned pro in 2000. Prior to Sunday, he had eight wins on the PGA tour but had not captured a major victory. As a result, many had been quick to label the 32-year-old a “choker.”

Before the 2013 Masters, Scott struggled to hit the one or two big shots he needed to win a major. Never was that more evident than at the 2012 Open Championship, when Scott battled Ernie Els to the finish but came up just short. He was also the runner-up at the 2011 Masters and finished 8th last year. On Sunday, Scott showed us that the choker label was slapped on him far too early in his career.

Pressure? For starters, no Australian had ever won the Masters. This was a fact that everyone in the field was very aware of, with Australian legend Greg Norman — who is one of the greatest golfers to ever live — having come close but never getting it done. Entering the final round at Augusta National on Sunday, Scott and two other Aussies — Jason Day and Marc Leishman — were in a great position to capture a Green Jacket for their nation. Because of his history of coming up just short in majors, there wasn’t much optimism surrounding Scott.

As if the pressure of representing an entire country wasn’t enough, Scott also overcame some incredible circumstances at the end of the final round to hold off the far more experienced Angel Cabrera. Scott and Cabrera were tied at 8-under as Cabrera watched and waited from the fairway of the 18th while Scott lined up his birdie attempt. The Australian was able to control his nerves and roll it in, and for a few minutes it appeared that he had the tournament wrapped up.

That was until Cabrera stuck his approach shot a few feet from the pin. He sunk his tap-in birdie and forced extra holes. Both golfers parred the 18th (the first hole of the playoffs) in sudden death, but Scott bested Cabrera with a birdie on the 10th. It took another tricky 12-foot putt to seal the deal.

Simply put, you couldn’t have packed more pressure into a one-hour span if you tried. Scott had to get his emotions in check after thinking he had the Green Jacket won on the 18th of regulation and basically go out and win it again. Perhaps we are too hard on golfers who come up just short time and time again. Winning your first major — a Green Jacket — at age 32 isn’t exactly something to be ashamed of.

Tiger Woods addresses drop controversy at the Masters

Tiger-WoodsTiger Woods avoided disqualification at the Masters on Saturday morning after the Augusta National rules committee determined that he committed a violation with his drop on the 15th hole during the second round of the tournament. Woods was assessed a two-stroke penalty, as it was determined that he did not knowingly break a rule and was not aware that he had done so when he signed his scorecard on Friday.

On Saturday morning, Woods (or his publicists) took to Twitter to respond to the ruling.

“At hole #15, I took a drop that I thought was correct and in accordance with the rules. I was unaware at that time I had violated any rules,” Tiger wrote. “I didn’t know I had taken an incorrect drop prior to signing my scorecard.

“Subsequently, I met with the Masters Committee Saturday morning and was advised they had reviewed the incident prior to the completion of my round. Their initial determination was that there was no violation, but they had additional concerns based on my post-round interview. After discussing the situation with them this morning, I was assessed a two-shot penalty. I understand and accept the penalty and respect the Committees’ decision.”

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Tiger Woods’ drop being reviewed, could be facing disqualification at Masters

Tiger-WoodsTiger Woods is reportedly facing a possible disqualification at the Masters. When discussing his round on Friday evening, Tiger spoke about the ball he dropped after his shot hit the pin on hole 15 and rolled into the water. Here is what he said, via CBSSports.com.

“I went down to the drop area, that wasn’t going to be a good spot, because obviously it’s into the grain and it was a little bit wet.

“So it was muddy and not a good spot to drop. So I went back to where I played it from, but I went two yards farther back and I tried to take two yards off the shot of what I felt I hit.”

If that’s true, that would be illegal. The official rule reads as follows.

It is a question of fact whether a ball that has not been found after having been struck toward a water hazard is in the hazard. In the absence of knowledge or virtual certainty that a ball struck toward a water hazard, but not found, is in thehazard, the player must proceed under Rule 27-1.

If a ball is found in a water hazard or if it is known or virtually certain that a ball that has not been found is in the water hazard (whether the ball lies in water or not), the player may under penalty of one stroke:

a. Proceed under the stroke and distance provision of Rule 27-1 by playing a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played (see Rule 20-5); or

b. Drop a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the point at which the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind the water hazard the ball may be dropped…

Woods’ explanation of being “two yards father back” and having to take a little bit off the shot is seemingly an admission that he did not drop his ball as nearly as possible to the spot where his initial shot was played. If that’s the case, he should have been assessed a two-stroke penalty. Since he was not and signed the scorecard, that would mean he signed an illegal card. Doing so would lead to an automatic disqualification.

According to FOXSports.com’s Robert Lusetich, Augusta National was reviewing the drop as of Saturday morning but would likely have to wait to speak to Tiger before coming to a conclusion.

When watching a replay of the shot on television, it appeared that Tiger dropped the ball about 2-3 feet behind a divot which may have been caused by his initial shot. Whether or not 2-3 feet is “as nearly as possible” to his first shot is something course officials will have to determine. Whereas the actual rule leaves room for interpretation, I would be shocked if Woods was disqualified.

UPDATE (9:34 a.m.): According to ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi, Woods has been assessed a two-shot penalty but will not be disqualified. Due to a rule change in 2012, the rules committee is now able to go back and assess a penalty and allow the player to keep playing even after they signed an illegal scorecard, rather than disqualify the player.

2013 Masters concession prices amazingly reasonable as usual

CheeseburgerThe Masters is considered by most to be the greatest tournament in golf. Each year, CBS’ Jim Nantz uses the phrase “a tradition unlike any other” to describe the storied event at Augusta National.

One of the annual traditions that comes with The Masters is the concession prices. Augusta National is one of the most prestigious golf courses in the world, yet they maintain their reasonable concession prices year after year. It should be noted that single-day badges for the tournament have been selling for as much as $7,000, but at least you always know you can grab a cheap sandwich, soda or beer.

We showed you the same type of graphic at the 2012 Masters, and aside from imported beers going up 25 cents in price it doesn’t seem like much has changed. Yes, we know they are making more than enough money. That doesn’t mean people wouldn’t pay $8 for a beer and $5 for a sandwich. Cheap concessions at Augusta are truly a tradition unlike any other.

Notable 2013 Masters tee times and pairings for the first round

Keegan-Bradley-Rory-McIlroyThe 2013 Masters is officially underway, and from the sound of it the players with earlier tee times on Thursday will have a slight advantage. Several players and analysts have alluded to the greens at Augusta National being softer than usual, with conditions expected to get a bit tougher as the day moves on and things dry out. Given that the greens at Augusta are known for being lightning fast and incredibly difficult to navigate, the softer the better.

Many of you will be pleased to hear that Tiger Woods is one of those players who will benefit from favorable course conditions, as he is scheduled to tee off at 10:45 a.m. For those who are wondering, here are some of the other notable tee times and pairing from Round 1 of the Masters:

10:34 a.m. — Bubba Watson, Ian Poulter and amateur player Steven Fox
10:45 a.m. — Tiger Woods, Luke Donald and Scott Piercy
10:56 a.m. — Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Padraig Harrington
12:13 p.m. — Steve Stricker, Ernie Els and Nick Watney
12:57 p.m. — Angel Cabrera, Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott
1:30 p.m. — Phil Mickelson, Martin Kaymer and Louis Oosthuizen
1:41 p.m. — Rory McIlroy, Keegan Bradley and Freddie Jacobson
1:52 p.m. — Jason Dufner, Matt Kuchar and Bill Haas

While live coverage doesn’t begin until 11:00 a.m. on Masters.com and 3:00 p.m. on ESPN, the players who are getting off before the TV cameras start rolling are supposedly in good shape. Justin Rose and a couple of others from our Masters predictions that we posted on Wednesday are off to a quick start thanks in part to the favorable early conditions. As we know, there is a ton of golf left to be played. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be excited for the first few holes. We know the feeling.