Total Consciousness — 10 April 2014 by GW staff and news services
Total Consciousness: The Masters

4/13

Remember those old Hertz commercials where O.J. Simpson sprinted through the airport? (Google it, kids)  That was me this afternoon at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, running AWAY from the gate.

I’d just landed following a smooth flight from Seattle that arrived several minutes early (thanks, Southwest).  And once I was able to reconnect with the world and check the status of the Masters on my phone (thanks, Apple), I learned that Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth were entering a back-nine shootout for the green jacket (thanks, golf).

My mission: Get off that plane, onto the new sky train (thanks, Sky Harbor), into my car, through the toll booth and onto I-10 to see if my 30 minute drive home could be done in, well, less than 30 minutes somewhat legally.  No problem even if there was traffic, I figured, because I could just tune into the play-by-play on the radio until I got to the TV at home.

I mean, the Masters HAD to be on some radio station down here. This is Phoenix, where the neighborhood golf courses are outnumbered only by Starbucks, bad drivers and those scooter stores. OK, kidding about the scooter stores.

Nothing on my preset stations led me to golf — the Diamondbacks were getting thumped by the Dodgers on one, ESPN radio on another talking about the upcoming Red Sox-Yankees matchup as if it was the only game in the universe, and a mix of mariachi music and infomercials on colon health on the others.  I spent the next 10 minutes pounding the “seek” button and even sitting through a commercial or two thinking those might have been the stations carrying the Masters — only to learn more about my colon and become amazed at the number of Spanish-language stations in Phoenix.  (And before you ask, yes, I’m a cheap guy who doesn’t pay for satellite radio. If I did, I’d probably just listen to the Mariners and the dirty-joke station all day, every day.)

Can you believe that Phoenix did not have one station carrying the Masters?  Phoenix, one of the golf hotbeds of the world? Back in Seattle, which is a great golf city, KJR carried the final round (huge kudos to KJR, and if they’d like to make me a Turn 3 reporter at the Indy 500 next month, I’d love them forever).

I get it. Most everyone who really wanted to know what was happening at Augusta National made a point of being in front of a TV and not on a flight.  My bad.  And, if I really wanted to follow every shot of the back nine, I could have hung out in a Sky Harbor bar and subjected myself to high-fives with Bubba-loving Bubbas.  Believe me, I ran past some of those guys on my way to the car.

I just figured I’d stay in touch during that 30-minute drive home by following the golf on the radio. To my astonishment, there was no golf on the radio.  The only hole-in-one I heard was that colon commercial.

All’s well in the end, though (not a colon joke).  I caught the final three holes on TV when I got home, and the tendinitis in my right index finger isn’t all that bad considering how many times I pushed the “seek” button.  And, I was smart enough to have used this fancy thing called D-V-R before I left last week so I could watch the finish just in case my flight was late (thanks, DIRECTV).

— Kirby Arnold

4/13

In the water on 12. Waterloo for Spieth?

— Bob Sherwin

4/13

Spieth missed a four-footer for bogey. Bubba birdies. Tied. Meanwhile, Couples doubles. His day in the sun just got overcast.

— Bob Sherwin

Spieth hole-out from the bunker on No. 4 is the kind  of shot that wins tournaments. That video is going to be the most run video throughout the nation’s newscasts tonight.

— Bob Sherwin

4/13

It could be an All-American kind of day at The Masters as electric Bubba Watson and wunderkind Jordan Spieth form the final group, not far behind a group that includes, incredibly, 54-year-old Fred Couples. Hang on to your favorite golf cap and enjoy the ride.

— Jim Street

4/12

Jordon Spieth, 20, and Fred Couples, 54, are on the same page going into the final round of the Masters.

— Bob Sherwin

4/12

McIIroy just dropped the stroke he had picked up. He’s back to plus-4. Not happening.

— Bob Sherwin

4/12

Rory McIIroy, who barely made the cut, has the distinction of starting off first in the third round. He already has knocked out one stroke to par and is plus-3 after two holes. He needs a mid-60s score to have a decent shot at anything.

— Bob Sherwin

4/11

The cut line looks upside-down.

Phil Mickelson, Jason Dufner, Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia, Webb Simpson, Ernie Els, Charl Schwartzel, Jach Johnson and Dustin Johnson are guys you’d think had the edge of experience around Augusta National, yet they’re all going home after missing the cut.  Among those staying for the weekend are wet-behind-the-ears (in a relative sense, considering this is Augusta National) golfers like Jonas Blixt, Jordan Spieth and Kevin Stadler.

Is this the year we’re seeing a changing of the guard at the Masters?  I’m not ready to go there. Yet.

The toughest part of the tournament lies ahead, when the greens will get firmer and faster along with the young guys’ grips and heart rates.   Want to see one of the greatest examples of adrenaline and nerves in all of sports? Watch the final nine holes on Sunday.

That’s why I think it’s still a veteran’s tournament, that guys like Bubba Watson, Adam Scott, Jim Furyk, Brandt Snedeker and even Matt Kuchar, Louis Ooosthuizen and Lee Westwood (all seven strokes back at even par) are the most likely to still be standing by sunset Sunday.  OK, I’ll put  one young gun in there — Spieth.  He’s got the game and the icewater veins to stand up to the pressure.

It’s going to be a fun final 36 holes.

— Kirby Arnold

4/11

For those tuning in late, Augusta National has never looked better than it does on TV today. What a place!!! Rory makes 6-footer to make the cut. He says, “whew!!”

— Jim Street

4/11
Can’t believe anyone in their right mind would have selected Harris English to win the Masters. Oh, that was me. Well, he did beat Patrick Reed, another miscalculated selection from the junior member of the golferswest.com staff.

— Jim Street

4/11

Cut line now at plus-5. Yikes. That’s high. The course is winning…now it just went to plus-6. At this rate, everyone’s going to get in. As it is, since the top 60 plus ties make the cut and there are only 97 players, the tournament only eliminates a couple dozen, far fewer than most tournaments. So guys such as Mickelson, who had two 7s Thursday, and Jason Dufner, who had a 9 on No. 13, still have a solid fighting chance to play the weekend.

— Bob Sherwin

4/11

There are two names that won’t go away that you wouldn’t think would still be in contention, Marc Leishman and Kevin Streelman. Both have started the day with birdies. Leishman is now -3, one behind the lead, while Streelman is minus-2 after 11 holes, minus-2 for the second round.

— Bob Sherwin

4/11

We start the day with the cut line established at 2 over. That may change, up or down. But it means that guys such as Sergio Garcia (3), Ernie Els (3) Phil Mickelson (4), Justin Rose (4), Ian Poulter (4) and Dustin Johnson (5) need to get on their sticks today.

— Bob Sherwin

4/10

Without Tiger, the first round lacked something. There was no buzz, no one to cheer against, no drama, nothing that rose to anything special. Like him or loathe him, you got to think even those gents in the green jackets miss having him around.

— Bob Sherwin

4/10

Here’s your first-round top 10 (and ties) – Bill Haas, Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Bubba Watson, Kevin Stadler, Jonas Blixt, Gary Woodland, Jimmy Walker, K.J. Choi and Brandt Snedeker. How that will shake up after the second round Friday, might be like this – Adam Scott, Bubba Watson, Brandt Snedeker, K.J. Choi, Rory McIIroy, Jimmy Walker, Louis Oosthuizen, Bill Haas, Kevin Stadler, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Steve Stricker.

— Bob Sherwin

4/10

It’s amazing that this tournament, year in and year out, how the cream rises. Very rarely does a journeyman battle for the championship because it such a difficult course, an intimidating atmosphere and a course that mandates local knowledge.

— Bob Sherwin

4/10

You can’t win the Masters on Thursday but it looks like Jason Dufner can lose it. He took a 9 (nine!) on No. 13. He’s plus-7.

– Bob Sherwin

4/10

The Baby Walrus, Kevin Stadler, had a stellar Masters debut, shooting a 2-under 70 in the first round. His portly dad Craig, a former Masters Champ, ballooned (sorry) to an opening-round 82, which put him next top last in the elite field.

– Jim Street

4/10

Adam Scott puts it in the Rae’s Creek at 12. Beginning to crack, just a little?

– Bob Sherwin

4/10

Turned on my computer at 4 a.m. today expecting to see The Big Three — Arnie, Jack and Gary — hit their ceremonial tee shots to launch the the Masters Tournament, but the ceremony was nowhere to be found. Not only that, but the coverage of Day One does not even get broadcast until NOON!!! That is 3 p.m. ET, which means more than half of the opening round will be completed. To me, this is ridiculous and I don’t know who to blame — the leaders of Augusta National or ESPN, which has the “rights” to televise the first two rounds of the tournament. Heck, last week, for example, golf fans could watch the Shell Open from the first swing on Thursday to final swing on Sunday. Why not the Masters? It’s just one of the most important golf tournaments of the season, if not THE most important. C’mon, man!!

— Jim Street

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