KNBR Radio: Art discusses the Masters with Murph and Mac


"Legendary Bay Area writer Art Spander gives us his take on the drama that unfolded at Augusta National G.C. over the weekend."

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RealClearSports: He Lost the Masters, But Won Our Hearts

By Art Spander

He lost the Masters. Kenny Perry was two shots ahead with two holes to
play Sunday, and we were thinking how fitting it would be, how
appropriate, if this 48-year-old with such great perspective, would
finally get his major championship.

He didn't. He lost the Masters. Kenny Perry, however, won our hearts.

Golf is the cruelest of games, a temptress, a harlot who waves a
beckoning finger and then slaps you across the face and shoves you into
the gutter. She'll snicker at your failure, showing not one iota of
respect. Or sympathy.

The 2009 Masters champion is that most underrated of pros, Angel
Cabrera. In a sentence, he's from Argentina and a wonderful golfer, two
years ago having won the U.S. Open.

Perry, Cabrera and Chad Campbell ended in a three-way tie at 12-under
par. Campbell bogeyed the first extra hole and was done. Perry bogeyed
the second extra hole, and the Masters was done.

Don't cry for us Argentina. Or, said Perry, for himself. Even though by
all rights he should have won. Because he deserved to win.


Perry grew up in Kentucky with a father who pushed him too hard to
excel. A father who, at age 85, with two stents in his heart, sat in
the shop of the golf course Kenny built for his home town, Franklin,
and suffered while the son he loves so much missed a second chance of a

The first was in his home state, at Valhalla Golf Club near Louisville,
where Kenny lost the 1996 PGA Championship (also in a playoff). That
loss pained him do deeply, lasted so long, Kenny put all his effort
last year into qualifying for the Ryder Cup at Valhalla, in an attempt
to regain the admiration of fans who wouldn't forget.

That accomplished - his play helped the U.S. win the cup and also
earned his family status as grand marshals of the Kentucky Derby parade
- Kenny said he could concentrate on winning a major.

Which he almost did. Which he should have done. But which he couldn't do.

Two shots ahead, two holes remaining. Not easy holes. Not at a killer
of a course, Augusta National. Not when you're a few weeks from your
49th birthday. Not when the only item lacking on your spectacular
resume is a major win.

Maybe he was nervous. Maybe he was weary. Perry bogeyed 17. Perry
bogeyed 18. Perry lost his lead. Then as darkness advanced onto the red
clay country of east Georgia, Perry lost the Masters.

But not his class.

"Two different situations," said Perry, comparing this disappointment
with that of '96. "I was young at Valhalla. Here I thought I had enough
experience. I thought I had enough to hang in there. But I was proud of
how I played. I really was."

And he should be proud. Perry came from tough times, and as a kid
didn't have the luxury of high-priced academy. He's raised a family and
with his earnings and raised huge sums for charity.

His father, Ken Sr., was an insurance man who, when Kenny was 7 or 8,
would sit on the grass, tee up one golf ball after another and make the
boy swing and swing. "He beat me up," said Kenny, meaning emotionally.
"He was a smart man. He knew you had to be tough."

And if there's anything Kenny Perry has displayed, it's his toughness,
repeatedly trying to qualify for the Tour back in the early 1980s,
winning numerous tournaments, including three last year and one this
year, and acting like a gentleman after what happened in the final
round of this Masters.

"I'm not going to feel sorry," he said. "If this is the worst thing
that happens out here, I can live with it. I really can. Great players
get it done, and Angel got it done.

"This is the second major he won. I've blown two. But that's the only
two I've had chances of winning. But I'm looking forward to (the U.S.
Open at) Bethpage Black. I'm looking forward to the British, to the
PGA. You know what? I can do it now, because it was fun."

For 16 holes it was. He didn't make a bogey for 16 holes under the most
intense pressure in one of the most prestigious tournaments on one of
the most difficult courses. Then he made two in a row.

"Our game's tough," Kenny Perry confirmed. But as we know, so is he.

"It's a mental game, and it plays a lot with your head. So I'm going to enjoy it. We are going to have some fun."

Even if he doesn't have the Masters.

As a reporter since 1960, Art Spander is a living treasure of sports
history. A recipient of the Dick McCann Memorial Award -- given for his
long and distinguished career covering professional football -- he has
earned himself a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And he has
recently been honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the PGA of
America for 2009.

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© RealClearSports 2009


Newsday: Tiger didn't have a swing, but still had a shot

By Art Spander
Special to Newsday

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The dogged victims of an inexorable fate. That's the description of golfers made by the man who helped create the Masters, Bobby Jones. Sunday, this tournament of agony and joy beckoned the top two players in the world rankings and doggedly turned them into fate's victims.

It was a dream pairing for this first major of every year, Tiger Woods, No. 1, and Phil Mickelson, No. 2, two guys who give each other plenty of respect, but as noted from caustic remarks a few months ago about Phil by Tiger's caddie, not much love.

Tied for 10th at the start, they were too far behind to win, at least that's what we presumed. But first Phil, making birdies while a gallery 10 deep in places made thunderous noise, then Tiger, with a stunning eagle at No. 8, charged up the leader board.

Tiger, in his brief, unhappy appearance before the media, later said, "I almost won the tournament with a Band-Aid swing."

Mickelson, after a 6-under-par 30 on the front, then a shot into infamous Raes Creek at 12 to make double-bogey, would concede, "If I had gotten through 12 with a par, I was right in the tournament."

Both Tiger, who shot a 33-35-68 and Mickelson 30-37-67 were right in it. Then each stumbled.

Mickelson, who had been within a shot of first -- after starting out the seven shots behind, as was Tiger -- finished fifth and Woods tied for sixth. Phil's total of 9-under 279 was three strokes back of the three-way tie for first, and Woods came in at 8-under 280.

For Woods, who had complained the excitement was gone from the Masters when Augusta National was "Tiger proofed" by lengthening of nearly 500 yards over the last few years, the par-5s once again were his domain. Sunday, he made three birdies and an eagle on them.

But in un-Tiger like fashion, he bogeyed the par-4 17th and the par-4 18th, his third bogey in four rounds on the finishing hole. It has been four years since Woods won a Masters, the longest streak since he hit the sport like a hurricane with his record-setting victory in 1997.

"I hit it so bad warming up today,'' Woods said. "I was hitting quick hooks, blocks, you name it. Then on the first hole, I almost hit in No. 8 fairway. It's one of the worst tee shots I've ever hit starting out."

Yet, after birdies at 15 and 16, he was 10 under and within two shots of Kenny Perry. "I was right there," Woods said. But not for long.

Woods and Mickelson were the box office twosome. They started an hour before the 54-hole leaders, Angel Cabrera, who eventually was to win in a playoff, and Perry. Tiger and Phil seemingly had two-thirds of the Augusta crowd, a group which included Mickelson's wife, Amy, and Tiger's coach, Hank Haney.

"You just go about your own business," Woods said when asked if he could enjoy the battle. "Phil was obviously playing well, but still I was trying to post 11 under, shoot 65. Obviously, I didn't do it. My swing was terrible. I didn't know what was going on."

Then before another question could be asked, Tiger said, "Thank you," and, victimized, purposely walked away.

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Copyright © 2009, Newsday Inc.

Newsday: Despite being far back, Woods won't concede, yet

Special to Newsday

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Reverie has met reality. Tiger Woods never should be declared out of any golf tournament, particularly a major, but right now, that idea has some serious limitations.

Surely he isn't going to win this Masters.

Not being seven shots out of first with one round to play -- although in 1956, Jack Burke came from eight back to win.

Not with players such as Angel Cabrera, who beat Tiger by a shot to win the 2007 U.S. Open; Jim Furyk, who won the 2003 U.S. Open and Kenny Perry among the nine players ahead of him.

Not the way Tiger has handled, well mishandled, the difficult greens at Augusta National. One of the game's best putters, if not the very best, Woods is 43rd in the field in putting after 54 holes.

After shooting a 70 yesterday, he is tied for 10th at 4-under-par 212, looking up, way up the leaderboard at Cabrera and Perry, who are at 11-under 205.

Tiger could shoot 64 or 65 Sunday, but as Woods, who never makes concession speeches, agreed: "If Kenny and Chad [Campbell] go off and shoot 2, 3, 4 under from where they are, it almost puts it out of reach for us. If they come back a little bit or stay where they are, we've still got a chance."

Campbell and Perry had been tied at 11 under while Cabrera was 10. Then Cabrera and Perry were at 11 under and Campbell was 9. Either way, all three are not going to collapse. One, perhaps, but not all three. And though Furyk (8 under) may not be Tiger, he is one of the world's best.

This Masters was a special test for Woods, only his fourth tournament since returning from ACL surgery on the left knee, only his first major since returning.

He won at Bay Hill two weeks ago, and the pundits declared him not only ready but the favorite.

Saturday, he opened with a double-bogey, whacking his first tee shot into the left trees, getting to the green in three and then three-putting. That he eventually had a decent 2-under 70 with five birdies can be considered impressive, if not successful.

"I fought hard to get it back," Tiger said. "I'm pretty proud of the fact I got myself back in the tournament, considering I didn't hit it as well as I wanted to and had two three-putts."

Since he broke through with his first major title in the 1997 Masters, Tiger has never gone more than three Masters without winning. But he hasn't won since 2005.

He appears out of sorts, Friday displaying considerable anger after bogeying 18 a second straight day. The question was whether Woods was not yet major-tournament ready. The answer was the usual. Self-doubt has never been allowed by Tiger Woods.

"No," he said, "It's not that at all. Not at all. I just didn't hit the ball as precise as I needed to [Saturday] and just fought my -- off to get it back, to shoot a number.

"As I said, I'm very proud of that. After making a double on the first hole, to still get myself in, well it depends on what the leaders do whether I've got a chance or not."

So far, it has depended on what he has done. And he hasn't done enough.

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Copyright © 2009, Newsday Inc.

Scotland Sunday Herald: Quadruple bogey puts paid to the Paddy slam

US Masters: Harrington challenge fades after nine on par-five second hole, writes Art Spander

PADRAIG HARRINGTON'S slim hope of winning a third straight major championship perished on a hole with the benign name of Pink Dogwood. The Irishman, who won both the Open Championship and American PGA Championship in 2008 and was one of the favourites in the Masters, took a quadruple-bogey nine yesterday on the 575-yard par-5 second hole of Augusta National.

That after his misfortune on Friday, when, having grounded his putter on the green of another par-5 hole, the 15th, with a good chance for a birdie, he watched as a swirling wind moved the ball and he was charged a stroke.

But yesterday it was Padraig, not nature's whims, which did him in. The green of the second, after a long drive, often can be reached in two. Harrington, though, reached it in seven.

He pulled his drive deep into the pines but had good lie. The second shot ricocheted off a tree trunk and plopped into a bush, from which Harrington could not extricate himself and therefore took a penalty drop.

His fourth hit the same tree as his second. His fifth barely made it out of the woods. The next shot was short of the green. Then he chipped on and two-putted.

That, however, was the only over-par hole on the front nine for Padraig, if indeed four-over par, and with the help of three birdies, on five, eight and nine, he still managed a one-over 37.

Rory McIlroy, the 19-year-old Ulsterman, had his troubles on Friday, closing with a double-bogey 5 on 16 and a triple-bogey 7 on 18 and then nearly being disqualified over a possible rules breach.

But for the third-round yesterday, McIlroy, in his first Masters, shot a one-under 71 for a 54-hole score of even-par 216. In his agonising second round, McIlroy, temporarily in sixth place, four-putted the par-3 16th. At 18, in the midst of making the triple, he left a shot in a bunker then kicked at the sand with his right foot, which immediately prompted a BBC analyst to wonder whether he had violated a rule prohibiting players from testing the sand.

Brought back to the club around 8.40pm, after a committee of rules officials had viewed a video tape, McIlroy, having already been questioned on the phone, explained in person he had not kicked the sand in anger but only as par of housekeeping.

The Rules of Golf (13-4) allow "the player to smooth sand or soil in the hazard after making a stroke provided that, with regard to his next stroke, nothing is done to improve the position or lie of his ball". McIlroy, whose 72-73-145 was right on the cut line, said he never feared he would be disqualified. "No,'' he told the BBC, "because I was confident that I hadn't done anything wrong. I think they just needed an opinion from myself. I don't think it was that big a deal.'' More than 40 years ago, 1967 to be exactly, Arnold Palmer, then still a force, similarly left a ball in a bunker but in anger slammed his wedge into the sand. Officials were going to assess him a stroke for the action, but Augusta has always been kind to Arnie and officials decided "he was not testing the hazard since he already had taken a swing'', and retracted the penalty.

Sandy Lyle yesterday looked more like the 51-year-old he is, with a one-over 37 on the front nine, than the golfer who on Friday ran off five straight birdies, holes 13 through 17, which gave him a 32 on the back nine and a two-under-par 70. "Even when you play well it is still hard work,'' said Lyle, winner of the 1988 Masters, "and under-par is nerve-wracking. I was hoping to get through Amen Corner and knew I could pick up shots on par-5s, but I didn't expect to finish like I did."

Ross Fisher's ride was interesting if unsteady. The Englishman began with a three-under 69 and then as might be expected in his debut Masters, came back with a four-over 76. He improved a bit yesterday with a 73 but is at two-over 218.

"I gave myself chances," Fisher said of his experience. "You get good looks on the greens, but I just couldn't get the speed." Tiger Woods, a four-time Masters champion, was saying virtually the same thing. But at least, unlike the last couple of years, the weather is pleasant and the roars for birdies noticeable.

Another Englishman, Luke Donald had the honor Friday of playing with Gary Player in the last round of his 52nd and final Masters. The 73-year-old, who stopped and knelt at the edge of the 18th green as he closed out his Masters career, had an 83 for 161. Four years ago, Donald was in the grouping with Jack Nicklaus at St Andrews when Jack bowed out of the Open championship. "I'm not sure why I keep getting picked," said Donald. "Maybe I'm the nice guy." Donald enjoyed himself, even though he just made the cut with an even-par 144.

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©2009 newsquest (sunday herald) limited.