By Ann Liguori
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April 6, 2011, afternoon notes

Tourism Ireland

The most important people in the world of golf, from players, agents, coaches, former champions, etc., gather under the big Oak tree every day of The Masters but on this Wednesday of Masters week, having a badge or credential takes on added meaning as it seems most of golf’s heavyweights gather there, prior to the start of the par three competition and the start of Thursday’s first round. Most of the tv crews set up under the Oak tree to do their one-on-one interviews, grabbing a few minutes from the players as they walk to and from the clubhouse. If you stand there long enough, you’ll see every top player in the game and legends who come back year after year. Arnold Palmer holds court every year, lunching and visiting with friends before teeing it up in the par three competition with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

Earlier, Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne held his annual address.

He described some of the new additions and improvements to the grounds and to the course. There is a new permanent seating structure with upgraded seats at the Tournament practice area. He talked about how important the internet is to their ticketing process and beginning in 2012, people interested in attending the Masters can register online. And as I mentioned in a previous blog, a limited number of daily tournament round tickets will be made available for the first time. They unveiled the first Masters iPad application last week and released a video game featuring Tiger with EA Sports, which I also wrote about months ago.

Callaway Golf

During Payne’s address, the following question was asked about Augusta National’s association with Tiger and the video game:

A year ago, you sat up there and talked about Tiger Woods egregious conduct and talked about how disappointed the club was in his behavior the previous year. A year later his name is associated with Augusta National in this video game. Can you take us through the thought process in how you decided to associate yourself back with him?

CHAIRMAN PAYNE: Well, as I said last year, Len, we continue to believe Tiger is one of the greatest golfers of all‑time, and we hoped and prayed that his comeback would go forward in a very positive way.

We embraced EA after much research on the video game side. Tiger has an exclusive arrangement with them. When we embraced the game some two years ago, we took as the partnership of us, EA and Tiger. We are very proud of that.

It has, in its very early days, has proven to be an enormous success, and we think will very significantly impact the kids in a very positive way, and be very beneficial to our new foundation that we have created, as well.

The Golf Writers Association of America 39th Annual Spring Dinner and Awards Ceremony is always the Wednesday evening of Masters week. The following people will be honored tonight:

Graeme McDowell – Male Player of the Year

Yani Tseng – Female Player of the Year

Bernhard Langer – Senior Player of the Year

Jack Burke Jr. – William D. Richardson Award

Lorena Ochoa – Charlie Bartlett Award

Barbara Douglas – Ben Hogan Award

Steve Stricker – Jim Murray/ASAPSports Award

Jerry Tarde – PGA Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism

April 6, 2011 notes

Wednesday at Augusta National is always a lot of fun with the par three competition. It’s a perfect opportunity to take pictures of your favorite players on the picturesque course who often have their kids caddying for them.

The legendary triumvirate of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player will play the par three course together and thrill the galleries. It’s always special to follow them as they interact with the galleries and joke around with each other. Together these three have won 13 Masters and know the meaning of giving back to the game!

Late Tuesday afternoon, a memorial celebration was held at West Lake Country Club to honor the long-time CBS Sports golf producer Frank Chirkinian, who passed away in March from lung cancer. Chirkinian lived at West Lake part-time. The Club recognized him, presenting his son, Frank Chirkinian, Jr., with a plaque. Jim Nantz, Ben Wright, Gary McCord, Pat Summerall and Lance Barrow, were among the men who spoke at the memorial. Wright captivated the audience with entertaining stories and his memories of a demanding and passionate Chirkinian, who through colorful language, talent, innovative techniques in television production, commanded respect and admiration from his team. Chirkinian produced 38 Masters.

Defending champ Phil Mickelson hosted the Champions Dinner last evening at Augusta National and he dedicated the dinner to two-time Masters champ Seve Ballesteros, 53, who has not attended recent Masters after being diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2008. He has been undergoing surgery and treatment.

The menu included:

Green Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette

Seafood Paella

Prime Beef Tenderloin with Manchego Cheese and Smoked Paprika Demi-Glace

Spanish Apple Pie