April 14, 2013

Adam Scott Wins the Masters: Adam Scott has become the first Australian to win the Masters golf tournament, defeating 2009 winner Angel Cabrera on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff. After a putt by Cabrera stopped an inch from the hole, Scott sank a 12-foot birdie putt to win. This was the first victory in a major for Scott, who won the Player's Championship in 2004.

posted by rcade to golf at 08:00 PM - 19 comments

I'm glad Scott won the green jacket instead of backing into it with somebody else's poor play. Those two putts he hit at the end were terrific, especially considering how shaky he seemed early in the round.

posted by rcade at 08:32 PM on April 14, 2013

-"That's a lovely accent you have. New Jersey?" -"Austria." -"Austria! Well then...g'day mate! Let's put another shrimp on the bahbie (Lloyd Christmas)

posted by Debo270 at 08:53 PM on April 14, 2013

Sadly, the only reason I found myself rooting against Scott was because of his superstar caddie.

Too bad the weather was so poor for much of the final round. So many players couldn't adjust to the greens, and the final few holes notwithstanding, it made for quite a bit of sloppy play. The ending of the tournament was great, though.

Is it just me or does it seem weather forcasters today, with all their technology, are worse at predicting weather than ose who did it for a living years ago? The forcast for the final round had rain moving in around 6, but it wound up raining practically the entire round. I'm shocked the lords of Augusta would allow that much rain to enter their course.

As always it's funny to watch Jim Nantz in Butler Cabin at the end act as if he is marching to royalty when the stuffed shirts are present. I half expect him to kneel down like he's meeting the Pope.

posted by dyams at 09:06 PM on April 14, 2013

The Masters should move the green jacket ceremony outdoors so the fans at the tournament could share in the moment. I've been at the Player's Championship when the trophy was awarded, and that's a lot of fun.

posted by rcade at 09:43 PM on April 14, 2013

Belly putter = give the jacket back. Fucking ridiculous.

posted by wfrazerjr at 10:49 PM on April 14, 2013

The Masters should move the green jacket ceremony outdoors so the fans at the tournament could share in the moment.

Yeah, right. If the Augusta National could keep the spectators out on the surrounding roads and still take their money, they'd do that instead.

posted by etagloh at 12:59 AM on April 15, 2013

Why is an anchored putter a bridge too far? Should they make 'em go back to using these?

posted by rcade at 08:46 AM on April 15, 2013

Yeah, right. If the Augusta National could keep the spectators out on the surrounding roads and still take their money, they'd do that instead

Ha ha, you mean, if Augusta National could play the entire tournament in front of only members, screw the public and their "money", they'd do that instead.

Augusta is a lot of things, but cash-hungry it's not.

posted by loquax at 08:52 AM on April 15, 2013

I swear there is a market out there for Vintage Golf, a la Vintage Base Ball. Let people rent knickers and caps and Spoons and Mashie Niblicks and sell them a bucket of repro gutta percha balls and send them out for an afternoon.

posted by Rock Steady at 09:01 AM on April 15, 2013

I was going to answer, Rogers, but this says it better than I could: It is now the the weapon of choice but the long putter must go belly-up.

posted by wfrazerjr at 11:14 AM on April 15, 2013

"So if he has been convinced, before his school days are out, that a belly putter presents the best method of achieving that goal, the prosecution rests."

He's also decided modern golf balls, irons and "woods" are the best method of playing. Should we toss those as well? I understand wanting to keep from making the game too easy, but that's not a good argument. (I'm also a little uncomfy with someone describing a 14 year-old Asian kid as a robot)

posted by yerfatma at 11:41 AM on April 15, 2013

The belief that anchored putters represent an unfair advantage seems arbitrary to me. The linked commentary actually uses the assertion "men use short putters" as justification for the argument against them. Look at putters today compared to Calamity Jane (the photo above). How many advancements in putters have there been since then? How many of them could have been stopped with the exact same arguments deployed against anchored putters?

posted by rcade at 12:54 PM on April 15, 2013

On the anchored putting thing, yes, it does seem arbitrary--as arbitrary, for example, as ruling that tennis players cannot use two-handed groundstrokes, or the old rule that when serving, their feet must remain on the ground until they strike the ball.

I don't know about golf, but there is a brisk online market for vintage tennis racquets. Many players are enthusiastic users of decades-old racquets and go to great lengths to acquire them--and not just to hang on the wall, either.

posted by Uncle Toby at 02:41 PM on April 15, 2013

Oi Oi Oi.

posted by owlhouse at 02:51 AM on April 17, 2013

I'm a bit late to the party on this and I suspect there won't be much further debate to be had, but just in case anyone's still checking back, I'll throw in my take on the long putters debate.

When they first started getting used on tour (Johnny Miller was one of the first to try one out) in the 80s, they were seen as crutches for golfers with crippling doses of the yips. As such, said golfers were to be pitied - they were terrible putters without a long putter, and at best mediocre with it, but at least the long putter would allow them to continue to play. The rules bodies (the R&A and the USGA) looked at them. They clearly contravened an original and quite explicit rule of the game - that the club should always be swung freely and never "anchored" to the body in any way - but really, they reasoned, what harm would it do to let the floundering putters extend their golfing lives a little by letting them use these remedial devices?

Then, slowly, the nature of the long putter changed as people experimented with other methods of anchoring it to various parts of their body (the arm, the belly, etc.). Increasingly, it became clear that for some players who may have been below average putters (but were far from being "crippled" by their poor putting), using one of these alternative methods improved their performance.

Today, we're in a position that has forced the rules-making bodies to examine again the phenomenon of the anchored putter and decide whether or not it should still be permitted. It would seem that they are going to alter the status quo, although how exactly they're going to do that remains unclear.

One of the primary arguments put forward by the pro-anchoring faction is circular and will not stand. In essence, it says: there is no statistical evidence that anchored putters make putting any easier. If that is true, how can you have an objection to their removal? At the same time, if that is true, how can anyone else have an objection to their continued use?

Statistics can only go so far - they struggle to reflect the importance of the putts being holed (or missed) in the context of a tournament. My own opinion was simply backed up watching a very exciting Sunday at Augusta. I love watching players come down the stretch and facing challenges. I love to see someone faced with a six-foot putt under pressure; I think to myself 'now we'll see what you're made of... how your nerves are.' Scott faced several challenges of that nature during the course of the final round and holed all of them. Nerveless, you might say. Or, if you're me, the anchored putters make it too easy to avoid the little twitchy mistakes all players are prone to on the greens as the heart beats faster and blood thunders in your ears.

I also don't like the argument that has often been put forward about players in general and Scott in particular: "He's a wonderful player, but his putting lets him down." My response tends to be to point out that putting is and always has been part of the game. If you take it away, or reduce its influence of the outcome, why bother walking around a golf course at all? Tournaments could be held at driving ranges, given that they would be reduced to mere hitting contests.

Hogan argued, with his tongue a long way from his cheek, that putts should only count half. Why? Because he hit the ball more consistently well than everyone - possibly ever - and he felt aggrieved that lesser strikers could beat him quite often by virtue of their superior putting. Far be it from me to disagree too stongly with a player I have come to think of as my favourite of all time, but that's simply too narrow a view of the game as a whole.

The rule-makers have arrived at a sticky issue - partly through their own lack of foresight (they gave an inch and now seem surprised that a mile was taken) - but they ought to act, and in my opinion, they ought to outlaw the anchored putting technique. Had the (in my view, entirely predictable) outcome been made clear to the rule-makers when they first considered anchored putters, they would never have permitted their use in the first place. As it is, they let the cat out of the bag and now have the devil's own job herding it back in there.

posted by JJ at 09:35 AM on April 17, 2013

Oh, and Owlie?
"Come on Aussie!"

posted by JJ at 09:36 AM on April 17, 2013

As it is, they let the cat out of the bag and now have the devil's own job herding it back in there.

Words of wisdom.

posted by tahoemoj at 11:28 AM on April 17, 2013

Gosh, I wish we had mefi-style favorites here, because JJ's comment is great. Enough to change my mind.

Since I can't help seeing things through the tennis lens, maybe a fair comparison is the spaghetti string racquet, or even the extra long racquets that were banned some years ago.

posted by Uncle Toby at 04:34 PM on April 19, 2013

Speaking of rulings at the Masters (which no one really was, and certainly I doubt anyone's still hanging around this thread now anyway), the one with Woods on Friday was one I came across years ago and wrote to the R&A about. They replied too, with some helpful clarification.

Playing in an amateur championship in Ireland, I lost a ball with an approach shot. On returning to the original spot from which I hit struck the shot, I read the rule book, specifically Rule 26-1(a), and began to wonder why it was worded so vaguely. All of the other dropping situations in golf are clearly defined ("drop within one club length" for example), but this one uses the rather imprecise term "as near as possible to the point of the original shot".

Dilligent youngster that I was, I found the divot I had taken and dropped my ball as near as possible to it; so near, in fact, that the ball ended up in said divot, sitting on top of the piece of turf I had replaced. I called for a referee and successfully argued that I should be allowed to drop it again because the divot was created (slightly) closer to the hole than the position in which the ball originally sat, so I had unintentionally dropped closer to the hole. The referee agreed, I redropped several feet away from the divot and the ball was back in play.

Later that day, I saw the referee again and over a beer we discussed the rule. I'd spent most of the back nine that day thinking about how many times you'd have to drop a ball until it was realistically "as near as possible" to the original spot. It's a philosophical minefield.

After the tournament, I wrote to the R&A rules committee about the rule, asking why it wasn't stated more clearly, suggesting that "within one clublength of the point from which the original ball was struck" would work well as alternative wording. I allowed myself to get quite excited. If they reworded the rules according to my suggestion, I thought, I could legitimately lay claim to having had a gamechanging influence on my sport.

They wrote back (it was a more civilised time) thanking me for my question and answering it. The problem, they pointed out, is that it's not always easy to identify the exact point from which the original ball was struck. What if no divot was taken? What if one was playing from deep rough? Demanding that players discover the exact location of the original shot would lead potentially to a vast increase in the number of provisional balls being hit. Indeed, in any serious championship or tournament, it would be imprudent not to hit a provisional ball every time your shot finished out of sight.

As a wild and wayward hitter of some renown, I immediately saw how this would worsen the already tardy pace of play. I wrote back and thanked them for taking the time to reply.

All of which of course really has nothing to do with what happened at Augusta. Tiger not only dropped the ball too far away from the (clearly defined in this case) original point, he then decided to brag about doing so afterwards. The resulting furore should go down as a dark moment for golf. The tournament organisers should have had the stones to disqualify him. They didn't, so Tiger himself should have withdrawn, with a bashful smile about his ignorance of the rules, an acknowledgement of the hubris inherent in his comments on the Friday night both about what he did and his glib remark about Guan Tianlang ("rules are rules"), and then a quick reiteration of the line in his "apology" back in 2010: "I don't get to play by different rules."

He could have closed with a word or two about Bobby Jones, the co-creator of the Masters Tournament, and how he was known throughout the sporting world not only as a supremely talented athlete, but also as an upholder of the highest levels of sportsmanship - the very man who, when lauded by the press for calling a penalty on himself that essentially cost him the US Open in 1925, replied merely that one "might as well praise a man for not robbing a bank" - and that in that same spirit, he (Tiger) couldn't possibly continue to participate in the tournament.

His moral rehabilitation would have been complete. His sponsors would have come flooding back. The public would have clutched him ever closer to their bossom. And curiously, almost without noticing, he'd have started to feel better about himself. He'd have started to feel once more what I'm guessing he hasn't genuinely felt for a long time: like he was destined to win, destined to reach and surpass Jack's record. And because he felt it, he might just have done it.

In fact, he copped out. He didn't win the tournament. He won't win at Merion in the US Open in June. He won't catch Jack.

He's a wealthy man, but "poor and content is rich, and rich enough..." as Iago would have put it had he ever watched the Masters.

posted by JJ at 02:02 PM on April 23, 2013

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