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10:43PM

No fun for most on a tough day at the Masters

By Art Spander

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Tony Lema, a San Leandro kid whose brief life provided both success in and insight into golf, told us that the difference between the Masters and the U.S. Open is the difference between fun and fear.

Yes, the Open, with its narrow fairways and heavy rough, can be punishing. But the men who flailed around Augusta National on Friday in the second round of the 2018 Masters may have a definition of fun that is not quite the same as Lema’s.

Phil Mickelson, believing he had resurrected his game and his chances, had a triple bogey at nine, a double bogey at 12 and shot 79, seven over par. “Yeah,” said Mickelson, “it was a rough day.“

Tiger Woods had a double bogey and shot 75, three over. “I hit my irons awful today,” said Woods, who at least made the cut — as did Mickelson. “So many beautiful putts, but nothing went in today. Didn’t control distances, shapes or anything.”

Jordan Spieth, the overnight leader, started double bogey, bogey and then managed to shoot 74. “I just had two really bad tee shots the first two holes,” said Spieth, “and then the course was very difficult today.”

Not for Patrick Reed. He shot a 66 and is at 135, two shots in the lead. Or Marc Leishman, a 67 for 137. But for almost everyone else, Augusta, with a slight breeze and challenging pin positions, was a struggle.

Which, of course, is proper for a major championship. Otherwise it’s not a major. But there was that idea, endorsed by Lema, that with its wide fairways, the Masters was enjoyable. It has been for Reed. It hasn’t been for Matt Kuchar, who shot a 75 Friday and explained, “It was a very, very hard day.”

Mickelson and Woods have won multiple Masters. Spieth has a single victory. But all the course knowledge and fine play doesn’t mean much when a shot smacks a tree, as did Mickelson’s on nine, or flies into the bushes, as did Tiger’s on five.

Matt Kuchar, with a 38 on the back nine (forgive me, Masters Gods, for not calling it the “second nine”), was visibly frustrated after a three-putt at 18 and a 75 for 143. “It was a very hard day,” he agreed. “I thought I hit a bunch of real good shots and walked away with a bogey, which is part of how it works here.”

How it works here, there and everywhere, is if you hit a perfect tee shot, a perfect approach and then a perfect putt, you probably make birdie. Probably, because as every golfer, pro to hacker, knows full well, an erratic bounce or a gust of wind may spoil all the apparent perfection.

And while it’s hard to accept when you’re the one in the vise, it’s sometimes refreshing when you’re just watching. “It’s one of those days,” said Kuchar, who finished early on, “where I’m kind of anxious to kick my feet up in the house and watch the guys deal with it the rest of the afternoon.”

Please, Matt, didn’t you ever read that advice in the spectator guide from Bobby Jones, the Augusta founder, that we’re not supposed to cheer the mistakes and misfortunes of the competitor?

“It was tough from the get-go,” said Kuchar. “It was never comfortable. I think this place keeps you on edge because of the fact on almost every hole, the line between birdie and bogey is so fine.”

“You either have to be sharp,” he said, “or you really have to be clean. I felt I was doing a whole lot of scrambling, and for the most part I was getting away with scrambling pretty well.”

Mickelson didn’t get away with it.

“There’s a disappointment between wanting it so bad and then also letting it kind of happen,” said the 47-year-old Mickelson. “As you get older, you feel a little bit more pressure with each one. I thought this was a great year, a great opportunity.”

It was, but on a tough day, he couldn’t do much with that opportunity.

9:20AM

Newsday (N.Y.): Matt Kuchar dealt crushing blow after leading British Open with five to play

By Art Spander
Special to Newsday

SOUTHPORT, England — Matt Kuchar called it crushing, having a chance at age 39 to win his first major, coming from behind to take the lead and then having it all snatched away by a remarkable performance from his playing partner — and friend — Jordan Spieth.

Kuchar moved a shot in front at the 13th hole of the final round of the 146th British Open yesterday when Spieth took about a half hour to declare an unplayable lie, take a drop on the driving range and scramble for an amazing one-putt bogey.

Read the full story here.

Copyright © 2017 Newsday. All rights reserved.

9:58AM

Global Golf Post: Match Play Is Unmatched

By Art Spander
For Global Golf Post

MARANA, ARIZONA — It's evil, match play is, and wonderful, sport at its essence, where reputations mean nothing and seedings even less, where you're playing the course — as always — and your opponent. And no less significantly, yourself.

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2013 Global Golf Post

9:56AM

Newsday (N.Y.): Matt Kuchar wins Match Play Championship

By Art Spander
Special to Newsday

MARANA, Ariz. -- He was the prospect who became suspect, a golfer who lost his swing and his confidence. Now a decade after the fall, Matt Kuchar is back at the top.

Kuchar won the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship Sunday, defeating Hunter Mahan, 2 and 1, in a final played in winds and chill so severe at Dove Mountain Club above Tucson that both players wore ski caps and occasionally used heavy mittens to keep their hands warm.

Read the full story here.

Copyright © 2013 Newsday. All rights reserved.

4:50PM

Global Golf Post: Kuchar Clips Watson in Consolation

By Art Spander
For GlobalGolfPost.com


MARANA, ARIZONA -- Matt Kuchar, who led the PGA Tour money list in 2010, may be America's best golfer. He certainly was in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2011 Global Golf Post