DORAL, Fla. (AP) — Jack Nicklaus once joked that if Augusta National kept expanding its golf course that “pretty soon we’ll be teeing off downtown somewhere.” He never mentioned anything about teeing off from a different golf course.
Whether that happens remains to be seen, but the 13th hole is getting a lot of attention ahead of the Masters.
Golfweek magazine is reporting that Augusta National has approached neighboring Augusta Country Club about acquiring land behind Amen Corner. The ninth fairway at Augusta Country Club is parallel — separated by a row of trees that block the view — of the 11th green, 12th green and 13th tee box at Augusta National.
The magazine cited sources it did not identify. Augusta National had no comment.
Augusta National previously has bought land around the club for reasons unrelated to the golf course, though the Golfweek report allowed for an immediate conclusion that the target would be the 13th hole. The par 5 measures 510 yards, and two years ago Bubba Watson took it over the trees and had a sand wedge into the green.
The hole was only 480 yards on the card for the first Masters in 1934. During the most extensive lengthening for the 2002 Masters, it went from 485 yards to 510 yards. It’s one of the most exciting holes on the back nine with a severely canted fairway and a tributary of Rae’s creek in front of the green.
If the club were to acquire part of neighboring course, the 13th tee could be pushed farther back.
“The tee shot at 13 would be helped by a little bit of length,” said Nicklaus, a six-time Masters champion. “The tee shot is really dangerous and it needs to be hit well. I think we the length the guys hit the ball today, it’s a little easier than it needs to be.”
As for Augusta Country Club, the magazine said Tom Fazio and Brian Silva are working on changes to move the ninth hole and change the eighth green.
DALY’S DEBUT: The PGA Tour Champions can’t come soon enough for John Daly. He turns 50 on April 28 and will be playing the next tournament on the schedule.
Daly committed to the play in the Insperity Invitational on May 6-8 at The Woodlands Country Club.
He has played only seven regular PGA Tour events in the last year, none since the Barracuda Championship in August.
Daly also said he would play the Principal Charity Classic on June 3-5 in Iowa. To recognize Daly playing, the tournament on Tuesday offered fans a chance to buy one-day tickets for half price through March 7.
RYDER CUP MEMORIES: Justin Thomas is among the few active Americans who knows what it’s like to celebrate a Ryder Cup victory.
He was 15.
His father, Mike Thomas, was on the PGA of America board in 2008 when the matches were at Valhalla so his son was tagging along for the week.
“It was a really cool week,” Thomas said.
And it got even better on Sunday. He was around the 17th hole when Jim Furyk won to clinch a rare victory over Europe.
“J.B. (Holmes) had won his match, and he saw my mom and I. We knew him and he kind of grabbed me under the ropes,” Thomas said. “We were right there with everyone, right there behind the green. They won, and Phil (Mickelson) is there high-fiving everyone. I gave Phil a high-five and he was hugging my mom. It was crazy. For someone like me, I remember those moments. It’s funny now being with him all the time.”
Thomas wasn’t with Mickelson at the Ryder Cup dinner last week that Jack Nicklaus hosted. Only later did he realize only the top 40 on the current standings were invited. Thomas was at No. 45 because his victory at the CIMB Classic and tie for third at Silverado were in the fall and did not count. If they had, he would have been No. 9
THE QUAD SQUAD: Adam Scott joined an exclusive of three players to have made a quadruple bogey on the weekend of a PGA Tour event and still win.
Scott went from a three-shot lead to a one-shot deficit in the third round of the Honda Classic with his 7 on the par-3 15th. He was tied going into the final round and ended up with a one-shot victory.
The easiest quad to overcome belonged to David Toms. He had a five-shot lead going into the final round at Quail Hollow in 2003, and he still led by five going to the 18th. He finished with a four-putt quadruple bogey to win by one shot.
And then there was David Graham in the 1983 Houston Open. He made a quadruple bogey on the par-5 opening hole at Woodlands Country Club and finished the third round five shots behind. Graham closed with a 64 and won by five.
KERR AWARD: Cristie Kerr’s latest victory was off the golf course. She was selected to receive the Charles Bartlett Award from the Golf Writers Association of America for her commitment and charity work to fight breast cancer. The award is given to a golfer for contributions to improve society.
Kerr founded “Birdies for Breast Cancer” in 2003 in the aftermath of her mother battling the disease. The foundation became so successful that it joined with the Jersey City Medical Center to create the Cristie Kerr Women’s Health Center. It opened in 2010 and has performed more than 10,000 procedures.
“There is still so much work to be done in breast cancer research and prevention, and I will continue to use my platform as a golfer and wine-maker to raise money and awareness for women battling the disease,” Kerr said.
The award will be presented at the GWAA’s annual awards dinner April 6 in Augusta, Georgia.
DIVOTS: Graeme McDowell and his wife are expecting their second child, a boy. As when daughter Vale was born in 2014, his wife is due in September of a Ryder Cup year. Provided everything goes according to plan, the baby will be born on Monday of the Deutsche Bank Championship, just like last time. “The actual date will be different,” he said. … Honda Motor Company extended its streak as the longest-running continuous title sponsor on the PGA Tour by announcing a five-year deal that goes through 2021. Honda became title sponsor in 1982. Next on the list is AT&T (Pebble Beach) dating to 1986, and Shell (Houston Open) that dates to 1992. … U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Hannah O’Sullivan is among six amateur who have been invited to play the LPGA Tour’s first major at the ANA Inspiration. The others are U.S. Women’s Amateur runner-up Sierra Brooks, Karen Chung of USC, Bronte Law of England, Leona Maguire of Ireland and Albane Valenzuela of Switzerland.
STAT OF THE WEEK: The top three players in the world — Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy — have all missed the cut in the last month.
FINAL WORD: “I think it’s great if there’s a big ruckus when he shows up because the media gets away from me and you don’t hear the bad comments I say or twist them.” — Bubba Watson, on Donald Trump making a visit to Doral.