BARRINGTON, R.I. - I am always fascinated by the sense of ownership that the public has with the ultra-private Augusta National. That feeling extends to professional golfers, who have become less reluctant to air grievances about The Masters. More and more players are calling for a return to the good old days of the tournament, when eagles and birdies ruled Sundays, instead of the 72-hole grind that the major has become. Who would have ever predicted a day when the U.S. Open would be more fun than the Masters?
"To be honest, I think [Augusta chairman] Billy Payne is going to take that course back a little bit and bring some more of the theater back," said Nick Price, who is competing at the CVS Caremark Charity Classic. "I think they overdid it with the severity. When I used to finish playing on Sunday, if I wasn't in the hunt, I'd run to the television. Now, it's not as exciting."
Said Brad Faxon: "It's not just the length. It's adding the rough and the trees."
Mark O'Meara, the 1998 champion, offered this prescription after this year's tournament."Speed the course up," he said. "You don't always have to lengthen it. Hopefully [the tournament officials] will take a look at that because people want to hear the roars. That's what I always thought was great about the Open championship. They don't play with the course that much. The weather and the conditions dictate the score. I think in time [the officials] are going to see it. I don't think they'll bring it back to where it was when I won in '98, but I do think they're going to start to make the players think a little bit more and move the tees around a little bit more."
We can only hope the green jackets are listening.