Saturday 24 February 2018

Augusta diary: 'Dream on' says Bubba

The reception area of the Press Centre in Augusta. Photo: MillerBrown/Augusta National
The reception area of the Press Centre in Augusta. Photo: MillerBrown/Augusta National
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

Bubba Watson was one of the Masters champions who presented prizes at the Drive, Chip and Putt finals on Sunday, and he was delighted to be part of the occasion.

"We always dream and these kids are dreaming too. They want to pull on a Green Jacket one day and be part of a bigger future," he said.

"For us, this is inspiration. Even to guide us as pros, still playing, the smiles on their faces whether it's a good shot or a bad shot. Sometimes we need to learn that too."

Arnie leaves a gap

Tonight's Champions Dinner is the first in over 50 years that will be conducted without the great Arnold Palmer.

Ben Crenshaw, who played 45 times in the Masters until he decided it was time to quit after last year, spoke about The King's absence.

"I saw Nick Faldo last night and he said 'you know, each one needs to reminisce about Arnold and say to each other how much he meant to us.' I think that would be a nice occasion," he said.

Who loves ya, baby?

The 350 media folk attending the Masters are feeling the love this week in the palatial Press Building.

Constructed within six months of last year's Masters, it looks as if it has been there forever and inspires a sense of awe and appreciation among the media crew.

A far cry from sitting on a bench on the sideline at wind and rain-lashed Tulla, County Clare, in the late '70s reporting on an NHL match when Ger Loughnane was in his prime!

Read more: 'I know where to go and where not to go'

Weather watch

The first thunderstorm of a number expected during the next few days rolled in over Augusta shortly after noon yesterday. A weather warning had been posted 45 minutes beforehand, and patrons were asked to leave the course.

Torrents of rain and flashes of lightning assailed the hallowed venue, but the storm passed through and patrons were allowed back in at 1.45 local time (6.45 Irish). But another announcement came at 2.30 local time, saying play was suspended indefinitely and the area was under a tornado warning.

Thursday's forecast is for a 60pc chance of morning rain and thunderstorms with strong winds.

Fair play for Patrons

The committees and members of Augusta National run a superb operation around the Masters.

Money is mentioned as little as possible but no expense is spared, no detail overlooked, to present the course and the surroundings to the highest level.

How refreshing, then, to see how fairly they treat the patrons in terms of spending on food and drinks.

At the concession stands, an egg salad sandwich costs just $1.50; a ham and cheese sambo is $2.50 and a Masters club is just $3. Coffee is $1.50.

Soft drinks cost $2, as does bottled water. Domestic beers are $4, and an American craft beer will set you back just $5.

Zach recalls 2007

The 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson can hardly believe a decade has passed since his victory.

"I remember my wedges were great, my putting was terrific," he said. "I remember Sunday. It was like I was just walking in the park and the golf ball got in the way kind of thing. I didn't think my dreams would come to this."

Johnson (41), who also won the Open at St Andrews in 2015, is not dwelling in the past. "I want to win," he said.

Quote of the day

I sent him an SMS last week, I said 'make sure it's good course up there, make sure it's in good shape. I'm not in a hurry to tee off, but make sure it's ready for us'

Gary Player, 81 years young, points to the sky as he speaks about his friendship with the late Arnold Palmer.

Number of the day

5 Amateurs in the field of 94 starters. They are: Curtis Luck (20) from Australia; Brad Dalke (USA), Scott Gregory (England), Stewart Hagestad (USA), and Toto Gana (Chile).

Irish Independent

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