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  • Bubba Watson wins again at Augusta Apr 13, 2014 6:40 PM
    Bubba Watson’s second Masters title was nothing like the green jacket he won two years ago. The only daring shot Watson hit was one he really didn’t need. The wild swing in momentum came on the front nine, not the back nine of Augusta National. And the sweetest difference of all Sunday was seeing his 2-year-old son walk toward him on the edge of the 18th green after his three-shot victory over Jordan Spieth. Watson turned in another masterpiece and joined an elusive group as the 17th player to win the Masters more than once. He turned a two-shot deficit into a two-shot lead on the final two holes of the front nine, then kept Spieth, 20, and everyone else at safe distance the rest of the way. Watson closed with a 3-under 69 to beat a pair of Masters rookies in Spieth and Jonas Blixt of Sweden. Two years ago, when he hit that wild hook out of the trees on the 10th hole to win in a playoff, his wife and newly adopted son were watching at home in Florida. This time, young Caleb was decked out in a green-and-white striped Masters shirt and green tennis shoes as he waddled over to his father. “This one’s a lot different,” Watson said. “The first one, for me, it was almost like I lucked into it.” After high-fiving the crowd on his way to sign his card, Watson returned to Butler Cabin to take back that green jacket he slipped on Adam Scott a year ago. “After giving it away last year, I wanted it back,” Watson said. “I told Adam we could just swap it back and forth every year.” Spieth, trying to become the youngest Masters champion, could only watch from the side of the green. He dazzled the massive crowd early by holing out for birdie from the front bunker on No. 4, and making back-to-back birdies to build a two-shot lead through seven holes. Bidding to become the first player in 35 years to win a green jacket in his first try, Spieth looked to be well on his way. But he three-putted for bogey on No. 8 the first 6 on his card all week as Watson got up-and-down for birdie to tie for the lead. Spieth then made a rookie mistake, leaving his approach below the flagstick on No. 9 and watching it roll back into the fairway, setting up another bogey and two-shot swing. Whatever prayer he had might have ended at Amen Corner. His tee shot on No. 12 found Rae’s Creek. He missed a short birdie attempt on the 13th. Watson was too powerful, too experienced, too tough to beat. Spieth closed with six pars for a 72 and tied for second with Blixt, who never went away but never really threatened. Blixt shot a 71. “That was fun, but at the same time, it hurts right now,” Spieth said. “I wanted to get in contention on the back nine Sunday, but didn’t come out on top.” Watson finished at 8-under 280 and goes to a career-best No. 4 in the world. Miguel Angel Jimenez, the 50-year-old wonder from Spain, shot 71 and finished alone in fourth. Matt Kuchar lost a share of the lead with a four-putt double bogey on the fourth hole and never challenged again. He closed with a 74 and tied for fifth with Rickie Fowler (73). This was nine holes of theater everyone expected out of Sunday at Augusta National except it was the front nine. Nine players were separated by three shots at the start of the final round only for this to turn into a two-man show. After trading pars on the opening hole, either Watson or Spieth sometimes both made birdie or bogey over the next nine holes. They matched birdies on the par-3 fourth hole when Spieth holed out from the front bunker and Watson hit his tee shot into 4 feet. Spieth led by as many as two shots for most of the front nine, and his spectacular overshadowed a steady hand from Watson. Two holes to close out the back nine changed everything. Amen Corner swung the Masters in Watson’s favor for good. About the only excitement came on the par-5 15th hole, when Watson had a three-shot lead. He hit his tee shot well left, blocked by a few pine trees. Instead of laying up safely in front of the water, he hit through the trees with a shot that just cleared the false front of the green and went just over the back. All he got was a par. Over the final hour, that’s all he really needed. It was his second win this year, and the victory puts Watson at the top of the Ryder Cup standings. He was guided all week by a simple game plan of hitting fairways and greens, and he was calmed by knowing that regardless of how it turned out, he still had a green jacket. Now he has two of them.

     
  • Maybe it’s best that youth wasn’t served at the Masters Apr 13, 2014 8:50 PM
    Maybe it's a good thing that Jordan Spieth didn't win the Masters. It would be too depressing for too many hackers if a 20-year-old made golf look that easy.

     
  • Mechanic gives himself 50th birthday gift at Augusta Apr 12, 2014 5:19 PM
    Miguel Angel Jimenez gave himself a belated 50th birthday gift: one of the best rounds ever for a senior golfer at Augusta National. The Spaniard known as “The Mechanic” carved up the course on a picturesque Saturday at the Masters, shooting a 6-under 66 for the best round of the tournament thus far.

     
  • Bubba Watson stumbles on moving day at the Masters Apr 12, 2014 6:21 PM
    After two rounds of stellar golf, Bubba Watson stumbled a bit on moving day at the Masters. Watson had four bogeys on the front side Saturday — twice as many as he had in the first two rounds combined — and failed to pull away from an emboldened group of challengers that included 20-year-old Jordan Spieth.

     
  • Blackhawks’ air of confidence has this believer convinced Apr 11, 2014 1:36 PM
    I’ve got a feeling about these Blackhawks. And I think they do, too. There seems to be quite an air of confidence about them lately, like they not only think, they know they can do it again. And there’s no way I’m going to doubt them.

     
  • Bubba Watson goes on birdie spree at the Masters Apr 11, 2014 6:43 PM
    Bubba Watson likes the way he looks in green. He wants to get that color back in his wardrobe. Watson surged to the Masters lead with a spree of birdies on the back side Friday, positioning him for a weekend run at his second green jacket in three years. "I'm trying to get the jacket back," Watson said. "I want that feeling again."

     
  • Haas leads, with a pair of Masters champs 1 back Apr 10, 2014 9:52 PM
    No nerves. No worries. Adam Scott never knew the opening round at Augusta National could be so enjoyable. With his green jacket upstairs in the locker room for Masters champions, Scott made only one bad swing that cost him two shots in a round of 3-under 69. It was the lowest opening score by a defending champion in 13 years, and it left Scott one shot behind leader Bill Haas on an otherwise demanding day.

     
  • Will Tiger ever be as beloved as golf’s Big Three? Apr 10, 2014 9:28 AM
    Even if Tiger Woods agrees to hit ceremonial shots at the Masters 40 years from now, will he be nearly as beloved as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player were? I’m wondering whether Tiger Woods ever will agree to play that honorary role … and what the gallery’s response to him would be.

     
  • Without Tiger, the Masters has an open look Apr 8, 2014 5:08 PM
    One after another, some of the world’s best players and favorites to win the Masters trudged up the hill on the opening hole to start their practice rounds. Phil Mickelson. Rory McIlroy. Adam Scott. It was typical of any Tuesday at Augusta National -- except for the absence of Tiger Woods.

     
  • Local pros struggling as they prep for Masters Apr 8, 2014 6:08 PM
    The 80th playing of the Masters tournament, which begins Thursday at Georgia’s Augusta National, won’t be like any previous stagings of golf’s first major championship of the year. Golf columnist Len Ziehm looks at the locals players in this year's tournament, and the first father-son qualifiers to play in the same Masters.

     
  • Prediction: Masters winner will be first-timer Apr 3, 2014 9:20 PM
    With no Tiger and a potentially injured Phil … good luck making your Masters picks this year.

     
  • Woods has back surgery, will miss the Masters Apr 1, 2014 6:25 PM
    Tiger Woods chose surgery to heal his ailing back over a quest for another green jacket, announcing Tuesday that he will miss the Masters for the first time in his career. “It’s a week that’s very special to me,” Woods said. “It also looks like I’ll be forced to miss several upcoming tournaments to focus on my rehabilitation and getting healthy.”

     
  • Mickelson withdraws from Texas Open with injury Mar 29, 2014 4:01 PM
    Phil Mickelson withdrew from the Texas Open after 10 holes in the third round Saturday because of a pulled muscle in his right side. “I pulled a muscle on my downswing trying to hit it hard on the first hole (the 10th of the round),” Mickelson said a statement. “It just killed and it wouldn’t subside for 10 or 12 seconds. “I’m going back to San Diego (for) a couple of days and have a doctor look at it, but there’s really not much you can do for a pulled muscle. I hope I’ll be OK to play the Shell in Houston, but I just don’t know.” Mickelson is entered in the Houston Open next week, the last tournament before the Masters. Lefty was 1-over par in the round and 4 over overall when the three-time Masters champion was taken off the course in a cart. His caddie, Jim Mackay, said Mickelson felt a twinge on his opening tee shot and that the pain wasn’t going away. “It’s definitely not his back,” Mackay said. “It’s his right side. The thing he had been talking about is how good his back had been feeling here. He’ll definitely play Houston, if he can.” It’s the second time this year Mickelson has withdrawn in the middle of a tournament. He pulled out at Torrey Pines after making the cut because of a back injury. On Friday, Mickelson made the cut on the number, following an opening 77 with a 77 at TPC San Antonio. He blasted out of a greenside water hazard to 5 feet to set up a birdie on the final hole.

     
  • Getting into the swing of golf season at subscriber event Mar 26, 2014 9:36 PM
    With the Masters just two weeks away, Daily Herald subscribers got a jump on the golf season by taking part in a discussion Wednesday night with veteran sports writers Mike Spellman and Len Ziehm.

     
  • Woods: ‘Still too soon’ to know if fit for Masters Mar 24, 2014 5:26 PM
    Tiger Woods is not sure whether his ailing back will allow him to play in the Masters, which is two weeks away. “For Augusta, it’s actually still a little too soon, to be honest with you,” Woods said Monday at a news conference to announce that Quicken Loans is the new title sponsor of his golf tournament. “That’s kind of the frustrating thing about this.”

     
  • Undercover horse-racing video tough to watch — but absolutely necessary Mar 21, 2014 5:30 AM
    People in the horse racing industry often say they wish they would get more coverage, more publicity. Well, ready or not, here it comes, and it’s most definitely not the type of pub they were hoping for.

     
  • Senden chips his way to victory at Innisbrook Mar 16, 2014 6:44 PM
    John Senden ended more than seven years without a victory by making two late birdies, including a chip-in from 70 feet on the toughest hole at Innisbrook, for a one-shot victory on a wild and windy Sunday at the Valspar Championship. Senden, two shots behind going into the final round, closed with a 1-under 70 for his first PGA Tour win since the 2006 John Deere Classic. The timing couldn’t have been better. The victory sends the 42-year-old Australian to the Masters next month. Kevin Na had a long birdie putt on the final hole that would have forced a playoff, but it never came close. “If I could just stay in the moment, I knew I was swinging well enough to give it a shake,” Senden said. It took what he called a “magic shot” to shake loose from a traffic jam along the back nine of the Copperhead course. The tournament was up for grabs over the final two hours, with nine players separated by three shots at one point, and Senden part of a three-way tie for the lead heading into the treacherous, three-hole closing stretch at Innisbrook known as the “Snake Pit.” He went birdie-birdie-par, and it took all he could muster. After driving into the trees and playing short of the green on the 16th, Senden lofted a pitch with perfect pace and watched it tumble into the cup for one of only two birdies in the final round. Equipped with a one-shot lead, he followed that with a 20-foot birdie putt on the 17th. Equally important was the par on the 18th, which was just as difficult as the birdies. He needed two putts up a ridge and breaking slightly to the right before it went swiftly down the slope and breaking to the left. The 40-foot putt settled inches from the cup. Senden finished at 7-under 277, the third straight tournament on the Florida swing won with a single-digit score under par. Na played in the final group and made sure pace of play was only a memory. He missed a 3-foot bogey putt late on the front nine that sent him plunging down a crowded leaderboard, but he played bogey-free on the back nine and came up with a key par save from 6 feet on the 16th and a 15-foot birdie putt on the 17th to get within one. But his pitching wedge on the 18th was too strong, and his birdie putt never had a chance. He closed with a 72. Scott Langley, hitting superb shots to account for the wind, didn’t hit a green over the final four holes and still managed to save par on three of them. The one bogey on the 16th hole, when he went long of the green from the middle of the fairway, proved costly. Langley was the only player who shot par or better all four days. He closed with a 70 to finish alone in third. Robert Garrigus started the final round with a one-shot lead, and that didn’t last long. His tee shot on the third hole bounced off a lawn chair and against a tree, leading to a double bogey. He made another double bogey on No. 6 and went out in 41. And he went 26 holes without a birdie. By the time he made a birdie, it was too late. Garrigus, now 0-4 with at least a share of the 54-hole lead, had a 75 to tie for fourth at 4 under. Senden last won a tournament at the end of 2006 in the Australian Open.

     
  • Garrigus’ lead down to 1 at Valspar Mar 15, 2014 8:42 PM
    Robert Garrigus missed two short putts on the back nine and had to settle for a 1-under 70 and a one-shot lead Saturday in the Valspar Championship.

     
  • Langer leads Toshiba Classic Mar 15, 2014 9:06 PM
    Bernhard Langer maintained a two-stroke lead Saturday in the Champions Tour’s Toshiba Classic, making four birdies in a late five-hole stretch for a 5-under 66. Langer, the 2008 winner, had a 13-under 129 total at Newport Beach Country Club.

     
  • Ex-Kemper Lakes pro takes Georgia course to a new level Mar 15, 2014 5:09 PM
    Former Kemper Lakes pro Bob Spence wants to take Kinderlou Forest in Valdosta, Ga., to a new level, and Len Ziehm checks in with Spence, who has spent 60 years as a golf pro, about his stunning 18-hole course.

     
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