We all know the Masters is loaded with traditions, and one of the best moments every year at Augusta National is the Thursday morning ceremonial opening tee shots from the honorary starters.
The tradition began in 1963 with Jock Hutchison and Fred McLeod and over the years 10 players have helped tee off the tradition unlike any other: Lee Elder, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Sam Snead, Ken Venturi, Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson, Hutchison, and McLeod.
On Tuesday it was announced that Tom Watson would join Nicklaus and Player in 2022, and that got us thinking: who else may be in line to be an honorary starter?
Gentle Ben may be next up. The 19-time winner on Tour won the green jacket twice in 1984 and 1995 and finished inside the top 10 nine additional times (six of those in the top five). Crenshaw is also one of seven players to earn low amateur honors and later win the Masters: Cary Middlecoff, Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Sergio García, and Hideki Matsuyama.
Lefty was made for this moment. Just imagine the little one-liners he’ll have in a few years when he’s standing next to Tiger Woods on the first tee box (Spoiler alert: Tiger Woods is on this list, too). Half of Mickelson’s six major championships came at Augusta National, first in 2004, then again in 2006 and 2010. In 29 appearances Mickelson has missed just three cuts and finished inside the top 10 15 times.
Does this one need explaining? The Big Cat is a five-time winner (1997, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2019) and has earned 14 top-10 finishes in 23 trips down Magnolia Lane. He’ll be there. Next.
The ceremonial opening tee shots used to be hit by players who were actually competing in the Masters. Augusta National could go back to its roots with Langer, who would probably be the first player to break his age at the Masters. At 64 years old, Langer is still a dominant force on the PGA Tour Champions. Who’s to say he couldn’t rattle off a Thursday 67 in a few years?
Langer has played in 38 Masters, with nine top-10 finishes and a pair of wins in 1985 and 1993. He finished T-38 just three years ago.
Rory McIlroy says he hopes he can inspire like Tiger Woods at the …
On his Dubai debut in 2006, McIlroy took the opportunity to follow Woods around the course after completing his own round; Watch the Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic live on Thursday from 4am on Sky Sports Golf.
Rory McIlroy is hoping to provide young fans with the same inspiration he took from watching Tiger Woods on his Dubai Desert Classic debut in 2006, as the Northern Irishman seeks a third title at the Emirates Golf Club this week.
After playing his opening round on his debut at the tournament as a 16-year-old, McIlroy returned to the course in the afternoon, armed with a camera, to watch his idol Woods.
Sixteen years on, and with the 2009 and 2015 titles under his belt – along with six other top-10 finishes at the tournament – McIlroy is hoping to recreate some of the magic Woods provided that day.
“I had a better view than most, being able to get inside the ropes and have a media credential,” McIlroy said ahead of the tournament, which begins on Thursday, live on Sky Sports.
“Tiger hit a five-iron out of the right rough on 10 and landed on the green and stopped it on the green – and to this day it was one of the best golf shots I’ve ever seen. Just sticks out in my mind and I was right there for it.
“But it’s cool. I watched a lot of golf events as a teenager, and went to Mount Juliet for the World Golf Championships, went to The Open at Troon, went to the World Match Play at Wentworth a bunch of times.
“I loved getting up close and watching those guys play and trying to learn something from them and get inspiration. If there’s young kids running around this week, they can feel the same way or feel the same things as what I thought back then, then that’s a pretty cool feeling.”
McIlroy had to birdie the 18th to make the halfway cut on a mark of three over par last week in Abu Dhabi, but he surged through the field over the weekend and was just two shots off the lead after 13 holes of the final round.
Three bogeys in the last five holes meant the 32-year-old had to settle for a tie for 12th as former Ryder Cup partner Thomas Pieters went on to lift the title.
“It was a good weekend, a disappointing finish on Sunday but I felt some of the golf I played over the weekend was very encouraging,” McIlroy added.
“I guess (I need) just more of the same, maybe just try to refine a few things here and there.
“But it’s early in the year, and all I can ask for is getting myself into contention, trying to hit shots under pressure when it matters and hopefully I get another chance to do that this week.”
Want a better way to practice? This is how Tiger Woods found ‘eureka’ moments
Trevor Immelman had heard the Tiger Woods practice stories. And, for the most part, the legends were true.
“When you read a lot of the stuff, he would say, OK, 4:30 a.m. workout — I don’t know how true that is — but then it would be like, nine holes, chip balls, putt, play another nine, have lunch,” Immelman said. “So he would do all of that stuff.”
But this? This was different. Or the same, perhaps more accurately.
This week, as he was dishing for just about two hours on Barstool Sports’ Fore Play podcast (which you can — and should — listen to in full here), Immelman was asked what “a legitimate, hard-core practice session” looks like. The 2008 Masters champion flashed back to when he and Woods became closer in the early 2000s.
And this was both legitimate and hard core.
“What he at times, which I found fascinating because I wasn’t doing anything like that at that moment — this is like 2005, 2006 — he at times would dedicate like a day or two days to one part,” Immelman said on the podcast. “And so like he would putt for two days.
Or he would chip for two days. Because he thought that he needed to go into an aspect of the game and just get lost for a long period of time, and that’s when he would find the little things that could give him an edge.”
“Just putting for like eight, nine hours a day,” Immelman continued on the podcast. “And then he would do it again the next day. Wouldn’t go and hit a drive. Wouldn’t go and hit a chip. Just putt. Just putt. Get lost in the art of putting, figure stuff out.
“And that’s how I think he would own it back then. He owned it. I never did that until then. I learned that from him.”
And what did Immelman learn from learning it?
“Where I also think it’s smart is a couple reasons,” he said on the podcast. “First of all, what he explained to me was you could get lost in it and maybe have like a eureka moment where you’re just like, that, that’s it, this is it.
If I just feel this, then I start them where I want, or I get the right speed, or hit in the middle, whatever it may be.
“And then the other thing, it builds that kind of endurance for him. And I think, it’s not like we’re Navy SEALs or running into brick walls or anything like that, but it gives you that toughness, where if you just stand up there and you’re like, I’m going to make 50 in a row and I’m not going to leave until I’ve done that; I’m going to make 100 in a row, whatever it is, from 5 feet or 3 feet, whatever.
“That toughness to complete the task, keep failing until you get it done, those are the sort of things you can rely on when you’re out on your own, coming down the stretch in a tournament, and you’ve got this putt on like the 17th hole or the 18th hole, and as you’re coming out of your crouch from reading the putt, you’re like, man, for every day for the last two months, I’ve made 50 of these in a row. Like, I’ve put the work in. This is it, I’m making this.”
Not long after the revelation, Immelman won his Masters.
“He’s got an incredible golf mind,” Immelman said of Woods.
Tiger Woods gives biggest update yet on 2022 comeback with special insight on rehab
Tiger Woods has uploaded a clip on him in the driving range as he boosts he recovery from a terrible car crash in May. The golf legend has not featured on the tour since November 2020.
Tiger Woods has shared the most significant update on his golf comeback since his horrific car crash. The 15-time major winner was rushed to hospital after being involved in a single-vehicle accident in Los Angeles back in February.
Emergency crews found an SUV upside down in a wooded area, located around 30 feet from the main road.
Woods suffered serious leg injuries when his car hit a kerb and then a tree before rolling several times on the border of Rolling Hills Estates and Rancho Palos Verdes in Los Angeles on Tuesday morning.
Horrific images from the crash site have been broadcast across US networks and shows the front windscreen of the vehicle appears to be smashed and the front bumper of the car crushed.
Nine months later, the golf legend posted a short clip of him on the driving range taking a full swing of the club through the ball.
The 45-year-old’s right leg was wearing a protective gear on his right leg as he practiced his swing while making a gradual recovery from the shocking accident.
Woods gave the video the simple caption of: “Making progress”, which was liked over 105,000 times on Twitter.
He has not played in a PGA Tour event since November last year when he featured in the rescheduled 2020 Masters, but was then ruled out for the remainder of the year and beginning of 2021 through injury.
Initially the 15-time major champion was expected to return to the Tour at some point this campaign, however after being involved in the vehicle accident in February of this year his absence has now stretched to a year.
Earlier this month, American Ryder Cup star Justin Thomas gave a fresh update on Woods, who he meets with two or three times a week when he is at home.