2011 Masters: Ann Liguori Blogs Live From Augusta
By Ann Liguori
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Notes for 4pm Tuesday, April 5, 2011:
It was the Phil and Tiger show in the interview area this afternoon with both players answering questions from the media. And there is one big difference this year — Phil is the favorite! The defending champ comes into this Masters as hot as can be, winning the Houston Open this past weekend by three shots, and feeling confident to defend his title as he vies for a fourth Green Jacket.
Meanwhile, Tiger, who has earned four Masters titles, has not won since November of 2009 and continues to work on swing changes with coach Sean Foley.
When asked how he knows it is time for a swing change, Tiger replied:
“How? That’s a good point. I just know that what I was doing is not as consistent as what I think I can be doing. I won here in ’97 thinking that was a great week, but I can’t repeat this. That swing I had would not put me in contention each and every week and I need to change that.
So a couple of years later, I changed it and had a nice little run of years. The same thing with moving onto Hank, same deal, I felt that I could go to another level. I felt like I did, and I’m here with Sean and I feel like I can go to another level.
When asked if he wishes he could swing the way he did in 2000, he replied:
First of all, I can’t swing that way. It took a pretty good pounding on me knee doing it that way. As you know I tore cartilage and my ACL over the years, so I don’t want to swing that way. It’s too much pain.
And when asked if he ever worries that it takes too much time, particularly giving up time for winning Majors, when he makes a swing change, Tiger said:
I felt that taking a step back, or sometimes even two steps back, there’s nothing wrong with that if I’m going to make three, four, five steps forwards and becoming better in the end. I’ll sacrifice that for a bit knowing that I’ll become better.
If you look at my track record, that’s exactly what’s happened. So it’s been ‑‑ I think it’s been good. I got to 14. Can’t be that bad. (Laughter)
Because of the wind, Phil decided not to play today. He will get 18 in on Wednesday to make up for it. Phil said he will have two drivers in his bag this week and take out a 3-iron or a hybrid making the longest iron in his bag a 4-iron.
Phil was asked if one has to be a big hitter to win here and he replied: “No, you don’t have to be a big hitter to win here. You have to play away from your weaknesses to your strengths, and so if you’re not the longest hitter, you’ve got to play to your strengths, which needs to be wedge play and take advantage of the par 5s; and miss the par 4s in spots where your short game, that you can take advantage of. If your short game isn’t sharp, you really need to strike it exceptionally well. I don’t know if it’s really possible because the penalty for a slight miss‑hit is in an area where you have to be
on your short game. So anybody, whether you are long or short, if you’re on your short game, you have a good chance
Martin Kaymer of Germany on whether it was important for him to be ranked number one for The Masters: Last year he was won a playoff for the PGA Championship, one of four victories he collected in 2010. He also finished in the top 10 at the U.S. and British Opens on his way to becoming the No. 1‑ranked player in the world in February of this year.
Kaymer accesses some of the competition: Well, obviously I think Bubba is the most underrated player. Everybody knows that he hits the ball long. But he is, I think, very, very talented in shaping the ball, any side, right‑to‑left, left‑to‑right, and I think that is his biggest strength.
Obviously Dustin Johnson, Nick Watney, all of those guys, they have a fantastic chance. But my favorite for this week is Luke Donald. The way he played against me in the Match Play, and his short game is unbelievable. So I think obviously he’s not the longest, but he’s very straight, and his short game is fantastic. So I think he has the best chances.
But obviously Bubba, you should always watch out for him, because he’s, I think, underrated.
And on how Kaymer deals with the pressure, especially on Sunday afternoons, Kaymer shared an interesting perspective: I just realized that golf is not the most important thing in my life, and all I can do is do my very best on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
If you realize, like really understand, and not only say it, but understand, that golf is not No. 1; that there are more important things than golf, then I think it calms you down automatically.
Notes for 12.55pm Tuesday, April 5, 2011:
A big thunderstorm in the middle of the night delayed the start of Tuesday’s practice rounds by two hours while maintenance workers cleaned the debris off the course. Many homes lost power in the area. It’s sunny now but very windy! Temperatures are in the mid-fifties, quite a drop from yesterday.
The forecast for the rest of the week looks good with the exception of a slight chance of an afternoon shower or thunder storm on Friday. But today, players are dealing with winds gusting over 35 mph for their practice rounds.
The tee times and pairings are out for Thursday and Friday. At 7.40am on Thursday, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, the honorary starters, will gets The Masters started by hitting their drives of the first tee.
Defending champ Phil Mickelson will tee off at 1.48pm with Geoff Ogilvy and amateur Peter Uihlein.
Tiger will start at 10.41am and play with Graeme McDowell and Robert Allenby.
Fred Couples starts at 12.53pm and plays with Luke Donald and Steve Stricker.
Bubba Watson, Paul Casey and Edoardo Molinari begin at 1.15pm.
For the first time in the tournament’s history, a limited number of tickets for the individual Tournament Round days will be made available. Up until now, only Series Badge Holders were issued. Golf fans can submit an application for the 2012 practice round tickets and a small number of Daily Tournament tickets by visiting www.masters.com
Phil Mickelson is coming into the interview room at noon.
Tiger will be in at 1pm.
Notes for Monday at The Masters
It’s great to be back in Augusta. Temperatures are in the eighties but it was very windy today. Had lunch in the clubhouse and then walked the course. It’s quite the workout but I walk it every year and am always amazed by the courses’ beauty.
A year ago today, every media person who could get a credential was here to attend Tiger’s press conference. It was the first time he took questions from the media after the scandal that dominated the headlines for months. Today, he did not play any practice holes. Tiger did play 18 with Jeff Overton on Sunday. Tiger, a four time champion here, has not won here in six years. He has not won a title since the Australian Masters in November 2009. Blame it on the swing changes and the distractions from his personal life! We’ll see if he can find his ‘A’ Game and dial it up all four days.
Phil Mickelson did not practice here on Monday either but he got in two practice rounds before the Houston Open. He could have been taking it easy after winning the Houston Open on Sunday. The last time Phil won the event immediately prior to The Masters (2006 in Atlanta), Phil went on to win the green jacket! Can Phil do that again? Can he defend his title? His win on Sunday was his first since winning here last year. Nothing like coming in with that kind of confidence and peaking at the right time!
This will be Ricky Fowler’s first Masters this year. Fowler, 22-years-old, won PGA Tour Rookie of the Year honors in 2010. He played 18 today and will play 9 holes on Tuesday and in the par three competition on Wednesday. His impressions of the course: “The course is definitely one of the most hilly, the elevation changes are pretty crazy compared to most courses we play…”
Graeme McDowell, as impressive as his career has been, particularly last year, winning the US Open and being the star of the European winning Ryder Cup team, has only made one cut here in three times; Martin Kaymer, the top ranked player in the world and the PGA Championship winner, has yet to make a cut here in three tries and British Open champ Louis Oosthuizen is 0 for 2!
Most of the top players come in the press building for interviews on Tuesday so I will share their highlights with you then. Off to Tbonz Steakhouse.
Who’s your pick to win the Masters? Sound off in the comments below…