AUGUSTA, Ga. — Welcome to the Masters morning rundown, your one-stop shop to catch up on the action from Augusta National. Here’s everything you need to know for the morning of April 10.
Report: Reed still dealing with family issues
Patrick Reed is attempting to become the first back-to-back Masters champ since 2002. He’ll do so in the face of off-the-course distractions.
According to a New York Times report, Reed’s parents, both of whom are estranged from Patrick, have continued to show up at tournaments despite Patrick’s insistence they don’t. Reed’s family arrived at the Tour Championship in Atlanta last September and a week later went to the Ryder Cup outside of Paris, the former startling the 28-year-old. Reed told the Times that his worries have carried over to this week, as his family lives just six miles from Augusta National.
“I wouldn’t at all be surprised if they show up,” Reed told the NYT.
Not helping matters, at least in terms of public support, is that Reed is as close to a villain as the sport can conjure. But on Tuesday at the Masters, Reed dismissed any beliefs that he seeks popularity, or that the lack thereof has hurt his game.
“You know, that’s one great thing about the sport we play is you know, whether it’s here, whether it’s anywhere else we play or whether it’s around the world. A lot of the fans, they respect great golf and they want to see great golf,” Reed said. “It all depends on how you handle yourself, and the more interactive you are with the fans, the more they are going to respect you. Because at the end of the day, the more the fans and the people get to know you, the more they realize that you’re just a normal guy out there playing golf and you’re just doing your profession.”
Reed has had a rough go in 2019, with just one top-10 finish on the season and ranking 75th in strokes gained. He recently employed the help of renowned instructor David Leadbetter. “You know, I’ve been really close,” Reed said. “I’ve put myself in position in some events. It’s just one round here or there that has kind of hurt me. I just need to go out and put four solid rounds together.”
On the brighter side for Reed…
Reed hosted the annual Champions Dinner at Augusta National Tuesday night. As the reigning champ, Reed had the honor of concocting a menu, which he hinted at earlier this season. “I’m definitely going to fatten everyone up. I’m going to go with the bone in rib eye, mac and cheese, creamed spinach, creamed corn,” Reed said at the Tournament of Champions.
Reed was a man of his word, judging by the cuisine list made public:
According to Masters.com, renowned chef David Chang cobbled together the meal. Thirty-three former champs attended the dinner…
…Including Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods, two targets of Reed’s post-Ryder Cup rant. But as the picture proves, all problems can be solved by steak.
Tee times released
On Tuesday afternoon the tee times for the first two rounds were announced. The Thursday morning wave is highlighted by Woods, Haotong Li, and Jon Rahm at 11:04 a.m., followed immediately after by Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, and Cameron Smith at 11:15 a.m. The afternoon boosts a tad more firepower, especially towards the end of the day. Specifically:
1:38 p.m. — Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Jason Day
1:49 p.m. — Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Justin Thomas
2:00 p.m. — Jordan Spieth, Paul Casey, Brooks Koepka
Though the “supergroup” label can be overblown, the importance of Day 1, at least at the Masters, cannot: Since 2005, every winner was in the top 10 at the end of Round 1.
For the rest of Thursday’s tee times, click here.
Phil confirms viral story
The Masters is the greatest show on turf. And what would the spectacle be without its greatest showman?
Phil Mickelson, always entertaining, made many a headline last week thanks to an interview from country star Jake Owen. In a podcast with Barstool Sports, Owen relayed a tale at Jordan Spieth’s wedding involving a confrontation with Mickelson over the subpar showing of “The Match,” only for Phil to shut Owen down with some choice words and a $100 bill.
Speaking at Augusta National on Tuesday, Mickelson confirmed the viral story as true.
“It happened exactly like he said,” Mickelson said. “Jake nailed it, verbatim. Rickie Fowler and I were talking, he was right there, Jake had a bunch of buddies behind him and thought he would show off a little bit and I kind of shot him down, so, yeah.
“I can’t tell it any better than he can. You know, it’s much better coming from him. I didn’t know he was going to talk about it publicly, but yeah, I mean, it’s all true. It happened exactly like he said.”
In itself, a satisfying ending to a fantastic tidbit. Only Phil Mickelson added the cherry on top at the practice facility, as cameras “happened” to catch Mickelson warming up with money falling out of his pocket.
The Masters doesn’t officially start until Thursday. But let the score board show Mickelson has the early lead.
Chamblee torches Koepka
Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee does not suffer fools, which occasionally results in a brief firestorm. On Tuesday night, Chamblee’s blazing comments warranted a five-alarm inferno.
Speaking on GC’s “Live from the Masters,” Chamblee addressed the peculiar issue of Brooks Koepka’s weight loss. At the Players Championship, Kopeka mentioned to GC’s Ryan Lavner that his struggles with his distance stemmed from a new diet, one that was intentional and perhaps spurred by a magazine shoot. But Koepka brushed aside notions it would be a long-term battle, and said the sacrifice was worth it as it was “only four months of my career.”
But on Tuesday at the Masters, Koepka’s tune was slightly different, remarking he had “a bunch of blood work” done and was “trying to figure out what was going on.”
“The diet I was on was probably not the best. I was like 1,800 calories a day,” said Koepka. “I mean, you’re not going to be in the best physical shape at that point. You look at somebody like Michael Phelps or somebody like that eating 6,000 or 7,000 calories by lunch time. But I wanted to do it and try to lose some weight, and maybe went about it a little too aggressively for just a long period of time and the intensity of what I was doing.”
An odd tale indeed, especially given Koepka has captured two of the last three majors. Why mess with a winning formula?
A question Chamblee rhetorically asked, answering with a sledgehammer.
“The three times he’s played here he’s finished 33rd, 21st and 11th, that’s a pretty darn good trend,” said Chamblee. “We know why he didn’t play last year, we know what he did at the end of last year, you can extrapolate what he did at the end of last year and what he was likely to do here at Augusta National if everything were the same. Now, for him to change his body and his body chemistry, for vanity reasons, for a vanity shoot, is the most reckless self sabotage that I have ever seen of an athlete in his prime. I get why they ask Gary Player to do that shoot. I get why they ask Greg Norman to do that shoot.
“But to do something that takes you out of your game, to change your game completely, it’s never worked out very well. I think he’d be at the top of everybody’s list to win at Augusta National had he not done this and had his game not declined.”
It’s a good thing Augusta National is soaked at the moment, because Chamblee’s comments would burn the Georgia property to the ground.
Of course, it’s not like Koepka’s been in the wilderness this season, finishing runner-up at the Honda Classic. And considering the three-time major champ’s ethos is constructed off disrespect, we might as well skip this song and dance and award Koepka the green jacket now.