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Cometh the Hour - Cometh the man - Day One from the Masters
April 10 , 2014 by Stuart Barber

(Unknown, but often used by Sports writers, based on a phrase used by St Paul. However the only actual attribute I can find is Cliff Gladwyn an English bowler but last man in during the final Test match in South Africa 1948 who achieved the winning run with a leg bye!) But you'll have to wait until Sunday to find out who it is at Augusta National.

Full Coverage of the Masters

One person it won't be is Tiger Woods who misses this Masters, the only one since he first played in 1994. Matthew Fitzpatrick, the youngest participant in the tournament this week, was not even born then. Some of the comments about Tiger not playing verge on the ridiculous, like Steve Stricker saying the Tournament will be bereft by Tiger's absence, to the more measured tones of Augusta National chairman Billy Payne "Sure I wish he were here. No player is more compelling, more polarising, more watchable than Woods. You root against him. You root for him. But you root, which is more than you can say about almost any other guy in the 97- player Masters field"

Actually I don't think that is measured at all it's dismissive to the point of rudeness about the players assembled for this year's test of skill, and who deals best with the holes of adversity that are bound to come in the next four days. You may also recall that he confirmed the decision to allow Woods to have effectively signed for a wrong score but still be allowed to carry on playing last year

In fact, I think Phil Mickelson has the best take on Tiger's absence, "Put it this way, he is still being discussed... arguably as much as ever".

He also added this: "Look what he's done for the game the last 17 years he's played as a professional. It's been incredible. I've told him, and I've said this before, nobody has benefitted more from having Tiger in the game than myself". 

"I remember when I won my first tournament in Tucson, in 1991, the entire purse was a million dollars, first place $180,000, and Steve and I would sit down and say, I wonder if in my lifetime, probably not my career, we would ever play for a million dollar first place check. Now It's every week. It's unbelievable what has progressed with this game".
 
"And Tiger has been the instigator. He's been the one that's really propelled and driven the bus because he's brought increased ratings, increased sponsors, increased interest, and we have all benefitted but nobody has benefitted more than I have and we're all appreciative. That's why we miss him so much; we all know what he's meant to the game."

I think that's a remarkable prescient comment, even if Phil is well known for saying the right thing at the right time.

Billy Payne also ventured into the issue of "Men Only " golf clubs - it was only in 2012 that Augusta National had no women members - membership is by invitation only (At both Muirfield and Royal st George's you cannot apply for membership you have to be proposed and seconded by existing members) until Condeleezza Rice and Darla Moore were confirmed as its first female members "we readily and joyously welcomed our lady members and it remains a very good decision on our part" said Payne "we are so delighted and I know I speak for everyone that they are members. I'm proud to be a member of the R&A ( he actually means the Royal and Ancient and I bet you can guess how I'm going to vote".

Probably the best tweet I've seen this week was from the Telegraph's correspondant James Corrigan on Monday " A Severe storm warning clears the Augusta course this afternoon - see what happens when you admit lady members"

A discordant note was when Mathew Fitzpatrick was forced at very short notice to find another caddy when his regular Lorne Duncan, who caddied for him when Mathew won the Silver Medal at last year's Open, was excluded by the powers that be at Augusta for wearing sandals. The fact that a medical condition prevents him from wearing regular footwear cut no ice at Augusta. Fortunately Lee Westwood's caddy came to the rescue finding him a good replacement at such short notice.

I see Denis Pugh tweeted "if it had been Tiger or Phil's caddy he would caddy in his sandals"

The betting on who is going to win seems remarkably open but now with play under way the odds on Webb Simpson who has birdied the first three holes have dropped from 80/1 to 25/1

Ian Woosnam who won the Masters in 1992 has just played level par for the first 9 holes "Wheesy not woosie for the next nine" is the tweet I read. The only Welshman to win at Augusta

In fact it was this very day 26 years ago that Sandy Lyle was the only Scot to claim the Green Jacket playing that never to be forgotten bunker shot at 18 followed by the equally unforgettable downhill putt to win the Masters

Last evening I read Ewan Murray on who he would be watching:-

"McIlroy or Mickelson.. there's a box office element there, aside from their obvious brilliance. Things tend to happen.

I always make a point, still, of watching Tom Watson, who remains a glorious iron player.

Day hits the ball like a dream, would just be a lot better if he didn't take so long to do it."

So with the first round now well under way, a tweet recently showing a very lonely Jose Maria Canizares as the only man left on the practice ground so I'll take my cue and sign off until tomorrow.

Stuart Barber
10th April 2014

Full Coverage of the Masters

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