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  • AUGUSTA, Ga. ­­­– Phil Mickelson did not play particularly well the first two rounds of The Masters. He shot a 76 on Thursday and a 73 on Friday to finish at +5, and as a result he’s headed home for the final two days. Here, then, are a few thoughts on Phil at the midpoint of The Masters.

    1. I probably don’t need to begin with this disclaimer, but it’s relevant for what follows. I have never won a Masters, and neither, I assume, have you. (If you have, let’s talk. Perhaps over a round of golf at a certain Georgia club.) Matter of fact, I’ve never even played in a Masters, and thus I don’t know what it’s like to miss the cut in one.

    2. That said, Mickelson’s demeanor in the wake of almost surely missing the cut on Friday could best be described as “unusual.” He was smiling as he came off the green, smiling as he tossed his glove to a young fan, smiling as he embraced his wife and bro-hugged a few patrons, smiling as he approached the media, for heaven’s sake. Who does that? Sure, it

    Read More »from 18 thoughts on Phil Mickelson's difficult Masters week
  • Tiger's fault? ESPN's ratings down 28 percent for Masters opening round

    This year's Masters tournament doesn't include the wattage of Tiger Woods' star power and it's being reflected in the initial television ratings. ESPN announced on Friday that its ratings for Thursday's opening round were down 28 percent from the same time slot in 2013.  

    Last year's first day saw an average of 2.8 million viewers on the Worldwide Leader while 2014's opening round only saw an average of two million people inside the tent. 

    From an ESPN press release:

    ESPN’s live telecast of the first round of the 2014 Masters Tournament on Thursday, April 10, attracted an average audience of 2 million viewers with a 1.5 U.S. household rating, according to Nielsen Media fast national data. ESPN’s telecast aired from 3-7:30 p.m. ET.

    Viewership peaked at 2.4 million between 6:30-7 p.m. while the ratings peak was a 1.7 between 6-6:30 p.m. The ratings and viewership declined from ESPN’s 2013 first round telecast, which earned a 2.0 rating with 2.8 million viewers.

    As Ed Sherman of the

    Read More »from Tiger's fault? ESPN's ratings down 28 percent for Masters opening round
  • AUGUSTA, Ga. - The Masters is a demanding mistress. You want to make her happy, you'd better be prepared to throw everything else in your life overboard ... and for Bill Haas, that even includes his own brother.

    Shortly before the Masters, Haas fired his brother Jay Haas Jr. as his caddy and hired Scott Gneiser on the bag. Gneiser has experience in major championships, having helped David Toms win the 2001 PGA Championship.

    "I needed to switch it up," Haas said. "My brother has been on the bag a bunch for a few years, and I think I needed a change."

    Haas hopes that Gneiser will bring a steadying influence. "He was available and has a major win," Haas said. "He's been under the gun, played a lot of big events. He's seen it. I don't think he can do anything but help me, and I just like him."

    It makes perfect business and golf sense, but oh, is it cold. Add to that the fact that Haas has a long lineage of Masters play in his family, including his father Jay Haas and his great-uncle Bob

    Read More »from Bill Haas fired his own brother as caddy en route to Round 1 lead at the Masters
  • You think you're missing Tiger Woods at Augusta this weekend? Try being the social media maven behind @GCTigerTracker, the Golf Channel-run Twitter account that normally follows the golfer's every move on the course during tournaments. 

    With Tiger on the mend after back surgery, there really isn't that much for the account to tweet out during Masters weekend. But we have to still give @GCTigerTracker, which has over 54K followers, a lot of credit: It has still been a very entertaining follow as the action unfolds in Georgia. 

    Here's a few of the best tweets: 

    Read More »from This Tiger Woods-focused Twitter account is still a must-follow during Masters weekend
  • AUGUSTA, Ga. — You can spend thousands at Augusta National's gift shop and you'll never get something in your bag like this: a genuine in-play ball.

    Jason Day was on approach to the second green at Augusta when his shot sailed and zipped right into the bag of a patron. Greatest souvenir ever, right?

    Well, not exactly. The ball was still in play, so Day and a rules official had to determine the proper course of action:

    Jason Day inspects a souvenir bag.

     Day had to use the ball to finish the hole, but he got a free drop, and was able to get up and down for birdie. Not a bad escape.

    Day, one of the trendy pre-tournament picks to win this year's green jacket, started the day at 3-over, seven strokes behind leader Bill Haas. If he makes it to the weekend, he'll be a long way behind the leaders.

    ____
    Jay Busbee is a contributor for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter.

    Read More »from Jason Day puts a shot right into a spectator's gift bag
  • Every golfer has his own traditions at Augusta National during Masters week, but Tom Watson might have the most touching — not to mention tastiest — of them all.

    As Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star notes, it was 10 years ago this week that Watson's longtime caddy Bruce Edwards died at age 49 because of complications from Lou Gehrig's disease. Watson was in the champions locker room getting ready for the 2004 Masters when he learned the sad news.

    An egg salad sandwich at August (Jay Busbee/Yahoo Sports)Watson would later say that he felt like Edwards was with him during that round of 76 on April 8, 2004 — a loop he made with Edwards' old yardage book in his pocket.

    Touched by that presence, Watson paid tribute to Edwards that day with a gesture that he has often repeated in Amen Corner.

    From the Kansas City Star:

    “Bruce always ate an egg salad on the 13th tee,” said Neil Oxman, Watson’s current caddy and a long-time friend of Bruce. “So Tom left an egg-salad sandwich on the 13th.”

    Sure enough, Watson left an egg salad sandwich on the

    Read More »from Tom Watson pays a cool tribute every Masters week to late caddy Bruce Edwards
  • The opening round of the 2014 Masters is in the books, and with it came plenty of great headlines. Bill Haas opened with a 4-under 68 as he attempts to win a first major championship. Adam Scott and Bubba Watson, the last two champions at Augusta National, are a shot back at 3-under as is Louis Oosthuizen, the former Open champion that has contended here in the past (full Thursday recap is right here).

    The second round is underway and we are happy to bring you score updates, notes from the course and anything we can to make your Masters experience that much better.

    So jump in, enjoy and fire any and all comments to us on Twitter at @shanebacon and we will try to get some of the best up on the live blog.

    Important linksCurrent leaderboard Tee times Masters.com featured pairings Our picks to win

    Have a question? Direct it to @shanebacon on Twitter.  The best questions and comments will be added to the running blog. Here we go, friends ...

    ***

    LIVE LEADERBOARD HERE

    7:25 PM — And

    Read More »from Masters 2014 Live Blog: Follow all the second round action from Augusta
  • AUGUSTA, Ga. — Luke Donald was penalized two strokes at The Masters on Thursday for grounding his club while the ball was still in a bunker on the ninth hole. A spokesman for Augusta National, where the Masters is played, told Yahoo Sports that the penalty was reported by a patron to an official on the course.

    According to Augusta National spokesman Steve Ethun, Donald was informed of the penalty after his round but prior to signing his scorecard. (Had he signed an incorrect scorecard, Donald would have been disqualified.) Donald took a first-round score of 79 (+7), a total that included the two-stroke penalty.

    Shortly after the conclusion of play on Thursday night, Yahoo Sports spoke to a patron from Atlanta who agreed to speak on condition of partial anonymity. John, 40, indicated that he and a companion were seated near the bunker on No. 9, about 15 feet from Donald.

    "He hit the ball fat, it hit the lip, and rolled back down to his right," John said. Donald then "smacked the sand,"

    Read More »from Luke Donald's penalty at Masters reported by a patron at Augusta National
  • One day is in the books at Augusta National and the 2014 Masters, and the day brought plenty of incredible rounds, some tough breaks for some of the top names and a leaderboard that is as stacked as one would expect.

    We take a second to recap all that happened on Thursday at the Masters.

    One of the stories of the day was just how hard Augusta National played for a Thursday. We saw twice as many rounds in the 80s as we saw in the 60s, with plenty of the names we expected to contend basically shooting themselves out of the tournament after 18 holes.

    What were some of the names that took advantage of the conditions and played solid golf at Augusta National? Bill Haas is the first, firing an opening round 68 to hold the first-round lead all by himself. Haas bogeyed the opening hole, but played his final 17 at 5-under to grab the clubhouse lead after day one.

    Right behind Haas are the two champions of this event, Adam Scott (the defending champ) and Bubba Watson, who alongside Louis

    Read More »from 2014 Masters Day 1 Recap: Haas, Scott impressive early
  • Much like the short-lived meme which bears his name, Jason Dufner's scorecard in the first round of the Masters slumps lifelessly, and will be difficult to rouse.

    Dufner, golf's most recent major winner thanks to his victory at last year's PGA Championship, entered this year's Masters as a solid pick for a breakout win. That hope lasted all of nine holes. Dufner parred the entire front nine, looking solid enough. But then the wheels fell off, the bandwagon burst into flames, and women and children ran screaming from the carnage ... metaphorically, of course.

    A double-bogey on 10 began a four-hole stretch that would see Dufner leap from Even to seven strokes over par, capped by a quadruple-bogey 9 on 13. He then followed a birdie on 15 with two bogeys, and ended the day at a cringeworthy 80.

    "The margins are very small. Miss a shot and you're going to make a bogey or a double," Dufner said, "or in some cases a 9."

    This was in no way the way Dufner wanted to begin his latest charge at a

    Read More »from Jason Dufner's Masters chances are already slumped against the wall

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