By Alan Shipnuck
Monday, April 07, 2014


1. Lexi. Hello, world.


Lexi Thompson
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2. Matt Jones. That’s how good these guys are: a player most folks have never heard of pulled off two of the all-time pressure shots to steal an unforgettable victory. Onions.


Matt Jones
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3. Billy Payne. What sounded like a slightly nutty idea -- a Drive, Chip & Putt contest at Augusta National -- turned out to be a homerun, with a bunch of little charmers offering the perfect start to Masters week. Throw in the Pacific and Latin Amateurs, television for the Par-3 tournament and various other initiatives, and Chairman Payne has become maybe the most important popularizing figure in the game today.


Billy Payne
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4. Michelle Wie. No, she didn’t win, but the Dinah was the 10th time in 11 starts she has finished 16th or better going back to last year, a level of sustained consistency that has built up her confidence and, hopefully, portends big things. More impressively, after the bruising experience of being a massively hyped teen prodigy, Wie has blossomed into a self-possessed, well-adjusted young woman worth rooting for.


Michelle Wie
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5. Greg Norman. With Aussies having won four of the last eight Tour events, and a young protégé of his defending in Augusta this week, is it time to declare Shark the Se Ri Pak of the men’s game?


Greg Norman
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1. Kooch. You’re never going to see a worse pressure shot than Kuchar’s snipe into the water on the 72nd hole at Houston. Just brutal. Though I loved his gee-whiz reaction.


Matt Kuchar
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2. Charley Hull. The teen queen from England was in position to make a Sunday run at the Dinah but went 4-over in the span of nine holes in the middle of her round. Apparently this game isn’t as easy as she’s made it look.


Charley Hull
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3. Sergio. Needing a birdie on the 72nd hole to catch Jones as the clubhouse leader, Garcia instead made a messy bogey. Story of his life.


Sergio Garcia
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4. The Paulina prudes. Note to all those kvetching about Ms. Gretzky’s cover: this is a business, and all of your complaining is only encouraging other editors out there to reach for similar buzz-generating material.


Paulina Gretzky
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5. Masters punters. Who’s going to win this week? Who knows. This is the most wide-open Masters of the post-Faldo era, and I love it.


Augusta National
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