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In case the 2018 Masters need an extra dose of adrenaline—for the sake of posterity, it did notTiger Woods and Phil Mickelson traversed Augusta National’s inward nine together on Tuesday morning.Patrons gravitated to the group, which included Fred Couples and Thomas Pieters, the crowd 12 deep at times. Even by Masters standards, it was a spirited scene, one Woods admitted was something he’s never experienced. They put on a show, highlighted by eagles from Woods on the 13th and 15th, the two 40-somethings waxing their competition. Perhaps a preview for what’s to come.
“Come Sunday, they may be paired together [again],” said Couples. “They’re playing extremely well and they love the course, and they’re going to do very, very well.”It was their first joint practice round in 45 combined Masters. Further cementing that, even in the tournament’s incomparable setting, this year is setting up to be unlike any other.
The Masters released the Thursday and Friday pairings on Tuesday, and they did not disappoint. Leading the charge is Woods, who will tee it up with Marc Leishman and Tommy Fleetwood at 10:42 a.m. on Thursday. Other notable groups include Sergio Garcia, Justin Thomas, and Doc Redman; Jordan Spieth, Alex Noren and Louis Oosthuizen; Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson and Rafa Cabrera Bello. You can find all of the pairings here.
The Champions Dinner was held Tuesday night, a meeting of one of the most exclusive fraternities in golf. Reigning winner Sergio Garcia hosted, serving a Spanish-themed menu, while mixing in an International-flavored salad, and for a good reason.”We want to pay a little tribute to all the winners and all the countries that have won the Masters, so we want to add to that salad. We want to add at least one or two ingredients from every country that has won the Masters, so it’s going to be a little more special and it’s our way of saying thanks to all the winners,” Garcia said.
“Then as a main course we’re going to have a beautiful – one of my favorite dishes in Spain…arroz caldoso de bogavante. It’s going to be a rice dish, not a paella, but it’s going to be a lobster rice dish. It’s kind of like a soup kind of meal. Very delicious, very tasty. So I hope that everyone enjoys it. I definitely will.”It’s the Champions Dinner; how could you not enjoy it? That’s like trying to frown at the beach.Tuesday featured a murderer’s row of press interviews, from Tiger to Rory to Phil to Justin to Jordan. While there were gems scattered throughout the day, the highlight belongs to Garcia, who relayed his nightmare of almost ruining the green jacket within 24 hours of slipping it on.
“If you bear with me, we won the Masters, obviously we got to New York for all the morning shows and everything, which was a really cool experience,” Garcia said. “And we were there, so I’ve had the jacket for a day and a half, and we’re doing all the different shows and the stock exchange and Bloomberg and everywhere. And all of a sudden we’re kind of wrapping up the first day on Monday, and I’m about to do an interview, and I kind of—I’ve been taking pictures with different people and guys behind stage and stuff like that, and I kind of look at my right arm and there’s two big grease stains on it. And I’m thinking, My God, I’ve had the jacket for a day and a half and I already have two massive stains on it. What am I going to do?”
According to Sergio, one of the stage managers was covered in grease, causing said stains. Luckily for the 38-year-old, dry cleaners do exist, and the jacket returned in pristine condition. Still, if you have any soul to speak of, that tale has to make you cringe something fierce.As I write this on Wednesday morning at 6 a.m., it is coming down in buckets at Augusta National. However, while the forecast calls for scattered showers in the morning, it appears the venerable Par 3 Contest, which begins at noon, should be in the clear. (And thank the golf gods for that, as last year’s contest was rained out).
The event has transformed into Family Day at the Masters, with many players putting their wives, children or friends on the bags. It’s a nice change a pace, the competitors getting a chance to let down their guard and enjoy the scenery before the madness begins on Thursday. It’s also bestows a chance for the patrons to see past champions, as many no longer play official practice rounds.Also, little known fact that you’ve probably never heard before, ever: No player has won the Par 3 Contest and Masters in the same year. How’s about that.