Pepper Mill: Silent Augusta

Pepper Mill: Silent Augusta

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.

The first big sound all
week came after Rory Sabbatini made eagle
at 8 in the final round, but before that — almost

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!

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

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.

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.

For 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.

Dottie Pepper, a 17-year veteran of the LPGA tour and an analyst for
NBC and the Golf Channel, welcomes questions at [email protected].

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