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 11.
It’s finally here. The Masters, in earnest, begins Thursday morning. May the weather be kind, the pimento be fresh, the azaleas remain in full bloom and the fist pumps, plentiful.
Wallace wins Par 3
Most Masters entrants will purposefully DQ at the Par 3 Contest, hoping to avoid the event’s infamous curse. Matt Wallace went into overtime in hopes of breaking it.
Wallace, making his Masters debut this week, went three rounds of sudden death with Sandy Lyle at Wednesday’s competition, winning with a birdie on the third hole.
“I wanted to hole that putt on the last (Wallace missed a birdie at the ninth), and I didn’t, and then went to a playoff and it got a little bit more serious than how the nine holes went,” Wallace said. “I guess I just I wanted to win this. I want to break history somewhat.”
Wallace tied Lyle with a five-under 22, which included this ace at No. 8:
As Wallace alluded, no one has captured the Par 3 Contest and Masters in the same week. (Media members reminding their audiences no one has won the Par 3 and Masters in the same week: a true tradition unlike any other.) But there have been close calls, with Raymond Floyd (1990) and Chip Beck (1993) finishing runner-up.
Wallace, who won three times on the Euro Tour last season, will tee off with Bernhard Langer and Alvaro Ortiz at 12:10 p.m. on Thursday.
Finau returns to scene of crime
On April’s Fools Day, Tony Finau and Nike “released” the Finau1, a shoe with exaggerated ankle support. A sneaker that gave a not-so-subdued, and sardonic, nod to Finau’s gruesome injury at the 2018 Par 3 Contest.
However, Wednesday proved that fake boot is very much real, as the 29-year-old broke out the high, hightop at the seventh hole, the scene of the crime last spring.
A closer view, thanks to our Golf Digest photography team:
Considering Finau managed a T-10 finish on a busted wheel last season, go ahead and give Big Tone the green jacket if he has this bad boy at his disposal Thursday morning.
The latest broadcast innovation fans will love
A common complaint lodged at golf broadcasts, especially on Thursday and Fridays, is the abundance of missed televised shots. A complaint the Masters has heard, and answered with an ambitious endeavor.
Beginning on Thursday, fans will be able to see every shot, from every player, on Masters.com. Well, almost every shot; the occasional strike that’s off the grid—think of Rory McIlroy’s notorious tug on the 10th in 2011—may be missing. Nevertheless, that all but a handful of foul balls are at a viewer’s disposal is one of the biggest presentation breakthroughs in the past decade.
The venture was announced on Wednesday by Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley.
“The reason we’re going it is because we have always subscribed to the notion that we want to provide content to our fans in the way they want to receive it,” Ridley said. “You know, the world is migrating more and more towards digital technology. It was something that we thought, and that we were hearing, that our fans wanted, and with a lot of great work of our digital technology committee and our staff, we were able to develop this.”
As our Alex Myers discussed, the Masters website and app will continue to track every player’s shot. Coverage that will now be supplemented with raw video stitched into a a virtual scorecard.
“It’s been two or three years in developing,” Ridley said. “We had it in a beta test mode previously, but now I feel like we can actually execute on this.”
An innovation that hopefully manifests in fans’ ultimate viewing desire: clips of Jim Nantz rehearsing his weekend intros and victory calls. With a little team work (and IBM), we can make the dream work.
A new pin on 18, but no new tee on 13…for now
During his annual pre-tournament press conference, Ridley also discussed several items pertaining to the course. Most notably, that plans to lengthen the par-5 13th hole—enabled thanks to the acquisition of land from neighboring Augusta Country Club—are currently on hold. According to Ridley, the club is waiting on results from the USGA and R&A’s project regarding distance impact in the game.
Conversely, reading between the lines (as well as aerial images suggesting initial steps have already occurred), it seems, eventually, yardage will be added to the 13th.
“Admittedly, that hole does not play as it was intended to play by [Bobby] Jones and [Alister] MacKenzie,” Ridley said. “The momentous decision that I’ve spoken about and that Bobby Jones often spoke about, of going for the green in two, is to a large extent, no longer relevant.”
Additionally, it appears, at some point this weekend, there will be a new hole location on the 18th green.
“The 18th green was a green we rebuilt this summer, and we captured, or recaptured some areas on the back part of the green that had been lost to encroachment, which is really a natural process in all golf greens over time,” Ridley said. “So there is a larger area, both on the back left and the back right. The back right I think is going to give us an opportunity for a really good hole location. There’s plenty of room back there, but it kind of looks like it’s almost tucked, almost in the bunker, when you’re in the fairway.”
This will be the second Masters under Ridley’s command.
Woosnam’s last ride?
Three years ago, Ian Woosnam, winner of the 1991 Masters, announced his retirement from the tournament. Only he didn’t, as the Welshman’s continued to tee it up at Augusta.
However, it sounds like 2019 will be, officially, Woosnam’s last ride in Georgia. The 61-year-old told Golf Digest’s John Huggan it’s time, his 30-year-bout with ankylosing spondylitis, a rheumatic disease that can cause his vertebrae to lock, is becoming too much to bear.
“I know I‘ve said this before. But this time it feels like the end. I want to enjoy playing but I just can’t,” Woosnam said. “It’s too bad really. I’ve got a new driver and I’m ripping it off the tee. I even managed to knock it past Sandy a couple of times this morning. I’m playing well so it it is really disappointing. But I have to say goodbye sometime. If nothing changes physically, I’m done. I just can’t go on like this.”
This will be Woosnam’s 31st appearance at the Masters. Aside from his 1991 triumph, the Hall of Famer has not finished inside the top 10 at the tournament, and he last made the cut in 2008.