Friday, April 6, 2007

Masters Day 1: Welcome To The U.S. Open

Last year Augusta National made another round of changes, and after watching the 2006 Masters I strongly felt that they have gone too far and significantly changed the basic character of the Masters. Last year I wrote:

As far as the changes went, I felt like 1 and 17 were tougher but not too affected, and 7 was significantly tougher, but that the changes to these 3 were within reason. I thought that the changes to 4, 11, and 15 sucked, frankly. The 4th playing to 240 with that insane green just seems a little over-the-top unfair. The 11th was already the hardest hole last year, and now they have turned it completely into a US Open hole, whereby by simply making par you pick up 0.5 strokes on the entire field. It used to be a classic Masters hole, with tons of risk reward, and a Sunday pin perched right next to the pond, but now it is totally a US Open hole where there is no excitement and golf is about slogging through and pars are like birdies. There is a place for that kind of golf, and the back 9 at Augusta is not that place- Father's Day weekend is. The 15th was the worst change for me, where one of the most exciting holes in all of golf, with lots of birdies, eagles, and double-bogeys, completely had the fun factor taken out of it. This massively takes away from part of the whole ethos of the Masters, that they set up the golf course, particularly the back 9 on Sunday, to provide as much excitement as possible, where if you hit 2 really good shots on 13 & 15 you can eagle either one. We still saw that on 13, but that excitement factor on 15 seems to have been massively diminished in my opinion... ...I still think this years' event had more of a US Open feel to it, where players were more conservative, and didn't take risks, and that the course is now presenting less and less instances where players feel like they have the "green light" are persuaded to "go for it". That is what makes the Masters so exciting, and I think they are going away from this and making the tournament less exciting. I am interested to hear any thoughts you might have on this, and interested to see how the tournament "feels" next year.

Yesterday's opening round did exactly nothing to change my mind. In fact, many more people seem to be on board with me now- The Golf Channel even did a little feature on it last night. The numbers: Twelve players shooting 80 or higher, and not just the champions from the 60s but current tour pros, and good ones too, average score of 76 (4 over par), etc. etc. And the 11th hole is still straight USGA, averaging over 4.5, meaning that if you manage par on that hole you pick up half a stroke on the field.

Some are attributing the high scores to the weather, which they say will change. I for one don't believe them- I simply think that the days of players shooting rounds in the mid 60s are gone, which means a much more boring tournament: methinks it will be a long time before we see anything as exciting as Jack's amazing back 9 in 1986, Tiger's remarkable Saturday round of 65 in 2002, or Sunday back nines where anyone within 5 or 6 shots of the lead at the turn can still win it because the course is setup in such a way where you could shoot 40 on the back nine or 30 on the back nine. Sucks, that.

OK, on to the pimpin'.

D Clarke came out strong in defense of his 2006 Pimp Of The Masters title by rocking some aquamarine slacks and a snakeskin or alligator skin belt. Unfortunately he shot in the 80s, meaning not many people took his picture. I searched about 20 photo galleries online and only managed to find 1 picture which just gives a tease of said pimpalicious pantalones.

Open his title defense well. Unfortunately he shot
83 and probably won't be pimpin' on the weekend.

Brit oddball and major Gooner Ian Poulter came out full blast with this full on pimp getup.

Poulter comes out swinging

He has recently taken to wearing those hats every day, which on one hand look really cool like he is big pimpin', and on the other hand make him look a hell of a lot like Kid Rock, which isn't so good.

My favorite player from yesteryear, Gary Player, shows that his Pimpin' is eternal: dude is 71 but still bringing it strong- in fact, this year he is playing in his 50th Masters. To mark the occasion he rocked some sweet striped slacks and old school shoes on day 1.

"Still pimpin' after all these years..."

Shingo is a bit of a one trick pony, but as usual he did his thing. I did notice that like so many other international players he rocked the white belt yesterday.

Japanese cowboy pimp

I couldn't find a picture, but Colombian Florida Gator alum Carmilo Villegas went with white shoes, white pants, white shirt, and PINK belt. Normally I would say "Bravo Pimp", but current levels of Gatorhateritis prevent me from doing so.

Finally, some pretty strong newcomers:

Korea's Yong-Eun Yang went red pants/white belt, which is a good foundation to build on. Just lose the uber-dorky golf visor and you'll be just fine, son.

Solid first time effort.
Would fit right in on a Saturday in Athens.

Some dude named Kenneth Ferrie decided the way to attack Augusta National was with some serious bling. Dude is obviously a big fan of Lil' Weezy. I bet every time he makes birdie he turns to his playing partner and says "Ya heard me?"

"Bling, bling,
Everytime I come around your city,
Bling, bling,
Pinky ring belt buckle worth about fitty..."

And finally, Swedish newcomer Johan Edfors, who went all white but wasn't done there, for he threw in a painters cap, something not really seen outside of professional cycling since the early 80s. Oh, and to top it all off dude has a bitchin' mullet as well. Observe:

I like how he eschewed the white belt trend
and went with one that matched his mullet.

Unlike last year's World Cup, there is no competition
here for the Golden Mullet: dude has it locked up.

Available to paint your house this weekend if he misses the cut.

All in all a strong Day 1 for pimpin' if not for exciting golf.

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