Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I can't remember a quieter Masters. The difficult conditions made the audible drama of the tournament all but disappear. The small piece of land that is Augusta National and the elevation changes on the property create acoustics that make it possible to hear a charging player move through the course. That sound also bleeds into the TV audio. The upcoming shot may be taped, but you know the roar you heard "just a moment ago" will be worth the wait.

\n The first big sound all week came after Rory Sabbatini made eagle at 8 in the final round, but before that — almost nothing.

\n Sunday's overall scoring (74.33) was the best of the week, and a few growls were heard, but virtually no roars. Please, put a little water on the greens and bring back the noise!

\nChanges are afoot at the LPGA, and I like what I see. First, the association is tightening the regulations for exempt status and tournament eligibility.

\n Among the modifications slated for 2008 are reducing the two-year career-money-list exemption from the top 40 to the top 20, eliminating the tournament-winners category for nonexempt players except for those in the Hall of Fame and limiting medical or maternity extensions to the following season, not beyond.

\n For too long the LPGA has been a place where ineffective players had too many ways to keep their cards without getting through another qualifying school. The second change is the promotion of Libba Galloway to deputy commissioner. She brings seven years of experience as well as expertise in competitive sports, law, finance and real estate. Two moves, two thumbs up.

\nFor nearly two months there's been talk of an impending breakup between Phil Mickelson and his swing coach, Rick Smith, with Phil moving on to Butch Harmon. Butch has been seen working with Phil at the events in Tucson and Miami. Why is this such a big deal? Last I checked, it's the player who makes the teacher, not the other way around. I have yet to see a teacher pull the trigger on a five-footer to win.

\nDottie Pepper, a 17-year veteran of the LPGA tour and an analyst for NBC and the Golf Channel, welcomes questions at dottie@siletters.com.

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