Saturday, April 12, 2008
Updated: April 13, 9:18 PM ET
Masters Live Blog: Round 4
By Jason Sobel
Throughout this week, ESPN.com golf editor Jason Sobel will be live blogging from the Masters, bringing you inside information and analysis from Augusta National Golf Club. Refresh this page often to keep track of all the entries during each round.
Have a question or comment for Sobel? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Round 3 blog
• Round 2 blog
• Round 1 blog
• Par 3 blog
7:30 p.m.: Assuming Immelman doesn't pull a De Vicenzo, that'll do it from Augusta. Thanks for all of the questions, comments and, yes, even the poetry this week. I received more than 2,500 e-mails, so thanks for that. Take the day off tomorrow, too, to celebrate Immelman's win. You deserve.
And with that, I've hit my 39,143 word limit over five days (37 total hours) of live blogging. That's all from Augusta. See you with the next Live Blog in Torrey Pines. Until then, hit 'em straight
7:25 p.m.: Trevor Immelman is the newest Masters champion. I think this calls for
From Bo in Philadelphia:
Now if we only had a limerick for the occasion
7:22 p.m.: E-mail from Dee in Texas:
Tan pants, black shirt, green jacket
His jacket size is on his caddie's jumpsuit. It's a 38.
7:20 p.m.: Immelman's ball is in a fairway divot. Hell, he could just putt it into a nicer spot and then hit his approach
or he could just hit it to 25 feet and walk up the fairway while tipping his cap to the gallery.
7:16 p.m.: E-mail from Steven in Washington, D.C.:
Nice job on the pre-tournament picks.
Sure, Tiger didn't win, but he's in a share of second place.
Stewart Cink you had ninth; he finished in third.
You called Gary Player finishing last and Paddy Harrington taking fifth. Phil
Mickelson is going to finish fifth when you picked him for sixth.
Here's what you wrote about Snedeker: "The stats say Snedeker doesn't do anything all that well, but he knows how to get the ball into the hole and post a decent score. Might still be a few years away from making a serious major run, but it'll happen at some point." I think that about summed up his week here.
Oh yeah, and that Immelman guy:
66. Trevor Immelman (T-5) - "Myriad injuries and illnesses have befallen Immelman in the past year, adversely affecting his game. He'll still contend for majors during his career, just not this week."
What a stupid I am!
7:14 p.m.: Immelman stripes his drive right down the pipe on 18. Anyone know his jacket size?
7:08 p.m.: We interrupt this Trevor Immelman coronation to bring you a report from the course, where Immelman just knocked one on the green after a rough predicament in the greenside bunker. That leads to this e-mail from Bill Moore, executive director of the New York State Golf Association:
how many emails did you just receive saying you made the blog jinx of all blog jinxes?
Quite a few. I think some of Trevor's friends are about to come in here and make me stop typing about him.
Just kidding. No jinx here. Immelman makes a very nice par save on 17 and heads to the final hole with a three-stroke lead.
7:03 p.m.: E-mail from Michael in South Africa:
I am sitting in Cape Town, South Africa, screaming at my television in a mixture of Xhosa, English and Afrikaans at 1 a.m. You must understand that Trevor is a true South African athlete, and as such will make every effort to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory; and that is precisely why that shot [on 16] was dumped into the pond. I have faith. Ons sal wen.
P.S. Immelman will carry on where Els has left off. South Africa will continue its proud history of punching above its weight in the golfing world. Tim Clark, Immelman and the always arrogant Sabbatini are the new guard for South African golf, one that we must look forward to.
Speaking of Els, I wonder what is going on in his mind right now. He's had so many chances to win this tournament in the past, has always wanted to win it
and now sees a friend and countryman, the much younger Immelman, about to win the green jacket. It was reported earlier on the telecast that Els called Immelman last night to wish him well. He must be happy for him, but there has to be a certain level of jealousy, as well.
6:59 p.m.: So, who is Trevor Immelman? David in the ESPN research department back in Bristol, Conn., checks in with the following:
• This is his 20th career appearance in a major.
• His previous best finish in a major was T-5 in the 2005 Masters.
• He's the fifth South African-born player to win a major and the second to win the Masters, joining his idol Gary Player, who claimed three green jackets.
• He's the first to win the Masters when holding at least a share of the lead after every round since Seve Ballesteros in 1980.
• He's the first to win the Masters when holding at least a share of the first-round lead since Ben Crenshaw in 1984.
• He's the first player born outside North America to win the Masters since Vijay Singh in 2000.
• Winner comes out of Sunday's final pairing for the 17th time in the past 18 years.
• He entered as 29th-ranked player in world.
• He had one win in 95 previous PGA Tour events (2006 Western Open).
• He had missed the cut in four of eight PGA Tour events this season; best finish was T-17th at WGC-Accenture.
• He had broken par just once in 16 Masters rounds before this year.
6:56 p.m.: E-mail from Edward in Greensboro, N.C., who takes offense to Michael's insinuation:
Trevor Immelman a one-hit wonder? Come on. He's ranked in the top 30 in the world right now, and he's barely even played in the last season because of the parasite and then the tumor. He's in his late 20s. And he's finished in the top 10 in majors before -- I'm pretty sure he even has a top five at the Masters. He's also been on two Presidents Cup teams.
Immelman isn't even close to being someone like Ben Curtis or Shaun Micheel who came out of NOWHERE. I think most people who have followed golf for the past few years know who Immelman is, and that he's one of the top 10 players under 30 in the world.
6:54 p.m.: Tiger Woods makes birdie (finally!) on 18, completing a final-round 72 and moving into a current share of second place. Watch out, Jack! Here comes Tiger
for your all-time runner-up record!
6:48 p.m.: Not so fast, my friends!
Immelman hits his tee shot into the water hazard at 16. He does own a five-shot cushion, but a big number here and Brandt Snedeker might still have a chance to make this interesting
6:43 p.m.: E-mail from Michael in Parts Unknown:
Immelman has played brilliantly this week, but I think this was a big fluke. He will join Ben Curtis, Shaun Micheel, Rich Beem and perhaps Zach Johnson as one-hit wonders.
Nope, I'm not buying it. First of all, I don't think Johnson is a one-hit wonder. When he won last year, I was asked everything from, "Is he the next rival to Tiger Woods?" to "Is he a total fluke?" My answer: Somewhere in the middle. The player whose game I likened Johnson's to most was David Toms, which is a high compliment, in my book.
As for Immelman, I'll favorably compare him with his countryman Retief Goosen. Both are quiet, steady, solid performers who won't bring down the house in the interview room but are very, very good players with extremely good swings.
6:32 p.m.: E-mail from Mike in Gulfport, Fla.:
You insinuated early in the blog that Tiger wasn't being cocky, because he said winning the Grand Slam was "easily within reason" and not "easily within reason for me." However, he followed that statement up by saying, "I've won 5 tournaments in 12 of my seasons. I just need to win the right four," or something to that effect. Clearly he meant it was within reason for him to win the Grand Slam, unless you know of someone else who has repeatedly won five tournaments? Karma has come back to bite Tiger.
First of all, that was a joke earlier. Yes, I know Tiger meant the Grand Slam was easily within reason for him. I'll be sure to let you know next time there's a little sarcasm in here, so you don't fall behind.
Secondly, I can almost guarantee that when questioned about his comment after the round today, Woods will say something to the effect of, "No, I don't regret making that comment. I've won all four majors at least twice in my career before. I knew that all I had to do was win them in the same year and I'd have the Grand Slam. But obviously, that's not going to happen this year."
Whether you think it was a cocky comment or one that made sense, Woods won't back off from it after the fact.
6:22 p.m.: E-mail from Jim in Menlo Park, Calif.:
At 5:57 p.m., your watch read "five minutes to never."
Time to get it fixed
it is definitely running slow.
Yep, we hit "never" a little while ago.
In related news, this tournament seems like one of those when Tiger Woods runs away from the pack, one where you find yourself saying, "Hey, if Woods weren't in this, we'd have one hell of a fight for the title." Well, I think we can safely say that about Immelman. Without him, there'd be four players within one shot of the lead
but they're all playing for second place right now.
6:17 p.m.: Why is Immelman playing so well? I already posted his par-4 numbers, but let's look at the overall stats:
• Driving distance: 292.7 yards. (Rank: 3)
• Driving accuracy: 86.5 percent. (Rank: 1)
• Greens in regulation: 73.13 percent. (Rank: 1)
• Total putts: 1.55 per hole. (Rank: 4)
Quite honestly, I don't think I can remember a time when one player ranked in the top four in each of these categories at any tournament, let alone the Masters. If he had these numbers and didn't win, there should be an investigation.
6:14 p.m.: Trevor Immelman makes birdie. He's up five with five to play.
Only two things can happen now, folks. Either Immelman will own a green jacket pretty soon
or we'll see the greatest collapse in Masters history. I say he strolls to an easy win from here.
6:08 p.m.: Unreal wedge shot from Immelman on 13 to within two feet and this could turn into a coronation over the final six holes.
If the blog jinx is ever going to rear its ugly head, it'll be now. But let's hope not, for Immelman's sake.
6:05 p.m.: Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Or something like that. Brandt Snedeker pushes his second shot into the creek on 13, just as he did in Round 3, and that one's going to be costly.
5:57 p.m.: Tiger Woods misses a 10-footer for par on 14, will fall to 4-under, five behind Immelman with four to play. I know I said "never say never." Well, my watch says it's about five minutes to never right now.
5:53 p.m.: Brandt Snedeker drains a long birdie putt at 12 to move to 6-under, while Immelman makes bogey. The lead is down to three.
5:47 p.m.: Trevor Immelman has now played a total of 37 par-4 holes this week. His tally: 11 birdies, 25 pars and just one bogey. Wow.
Leads to this e-mail from Dave the former ESPN golf researcher:
Here are the players who have fared the best on the par-4 holes since 1997:
• Tiger Woods, 2001: 8-under
Making it all the more amazing is the fact that in the PGA Tour's par-4 birdie or better category, Immelman currently ranks 201st out of 204 players (9.91 percent), ahead of only David Duval, Robert Garrigus and J.P. Hayes.
5:45 p.m.: Hey, if I said it for Immelman earlier, I've got to say it for Woods, too
Yip, yip, yip, yip, yip, yip, yip
After a great shot to within four feet below the hole, Woods pulls his short birdie putt and walks off 13 with a disappointing par.
5:42 p.m.: If Trevor Immelman does win the Masters today, his biggest shot may have just occurred, as he holes the long putt for par to remain at 10-under. That was HUGE.
5:40 p.m.: E-mail from Josh in Minnesota, who notes the inexperienced leaderboard:
• Davis Love III, 1999: 7-under
• Mark Calcavecchia, 2001: 7-under
Zach Johnson was 9-over last year on the par-4s;
Phil Mickelson was 7-over in 2006.
Now the tournament has started. Flesch drops two strokes at 12, Snedeker is playing with three arms (two wrapped around his throat), and Immelman half-duffs a chip on 11.
And Tiger Woods spins one back to within a few feet at 13 after driving into the trees and punching out. He'll have that left for birdie.
5:36 p.m.: Steve Flesch does indeed make double on 12. Trevor Immelman is now up by four strokes.
How will he finish up? Well, if the chip on 11 is any indication, maybe not very well. Immelman leaves it short of the green and he will have to hole a lengthy one to save par.
5:33 p.m.: The anti-Tiger contingent is out in full. From Jim in Chicago:
Five back with five to go, even on the day and you damned kool-aid drinkers STILL hold out for a Tiger win.
And from Robert in Parts Unknown:
Good lord, put it to bed already. Tiger Woods will not win the 2008 Masters.
First things first: Never say never, especially when it comes to Tiger Woods. But yes, this is Trevor Immelman's tournament to win right now
5:29 p.m.: Steve Flesch finds Rae's Creek on No. 12. Going to drop at least a stroke, maybe two. Maybe more.
5:27 p.m.: With Tiger Woods on the par-5 13th and with the par-5 15th looming, it's worth mentioning the following numbers:
• Hole 13: one eagle, seven birdies
• Hole 15: two eagles, nine birdies
Just because they're par-5 holes doesn't mean they're birdie holes.
5:19 p.m.: Spy report from my man on the course, Lanier:
Just ran into Steve Flesch coming into restroom! I was leaving and he's jogging in! Is he e-mailing you, too?
If anyone has Flesch's digits, tell him to hit me up at the e-mail address above when he gets a chance. You know, next restroom break or whatever. No rush. Not sure if he's busy or anything.
5:17 p.m.: Oh, by the way
that's the first birdie on 11 so far today.
It's now a four-horse race. Immelman up two on Flesch, with Snedeker four back and Woods five back. There's a foursome that includes Paul Casey, Stewart Cink, Padraig Harrington and Phil Mickelson eight back, at 2-under.
5:15 p.m.: WOW! Tiger Woods makes a birdie putt of 70-something feet on No. 11 to get to 5-under.
Too little too late? Or the start of something unbelievable?
5:12 p.m.: E-mail from Steve in Cincinnati:
Looking at Immelman's card, he has yet to make a bogey on the back nine for the week. Suffice it to say, no bogeys on this back nine today would win
Is 9-under the number?
Yes, I've got to believe nine more pars will give Immelman the title. I thought 8.5-under was the number
5:07 p.m.: We actually haven't talked much about Steve Flesch today, but at 8-under, he's just two behind Immelman and two clear of Snedeker. Very un-Flesch-like round so far, with a birdie, a bogey and eight pars. Entering this round, he had an eagle and 11 birdies in 54 holes.
Then again, eight more pars could be enough, depending on how Immelman plays down the stretch.
4:59 p.m.: ESPNEWS interview. Back in a few minutes
4:57 p.m.: Spy report from Lanier on the course:
What a great exchange Bones and Phil had before Phil's second shot on 15. Bones tried to talk Phil into laying up. Phil said, "This is Sunday at Augusta and I'm playing to win." Then he takes out a wood and hits it into the patron's stands!
He did save par on the hole.
4:55 p.m.: E-mail from Aaron in Toledo, Ohio, actually made me laugh out loud:
Trevor Immelman has a library of every major championship since
1984? Let's hope he threw out the 1996 Masters.
Same goes for 1989. A guy with the yips probably shouldn't be watching Scott Hoch on the 72nd hole too often.
4:52 p.m.: Has anyone seen Brandt Snedeker's wheels? Because they've officially fallen off.
Five bogeys on the front nine, including one at No. 9. In his previous 54 holes, he had carded a total of
4:48 p.m.: Bogey for Tiger Woods at No. 10. Six down with eight to play. It's gonna have to be an epic comeback.
4:44 p.m.: Looking a little further down the leaderboard, here's an e-mail from Robbie in Louisville, Ky.:
Ian Poulter birdied the first two holes to get to 4 under, but since then has four doubles, two bogeys, and one birdie in the last 11 holes. Can we start calling him No. 32 (his current standing) instead of No. 2?
Remember what it said in that GolfWorld U.K. magazine, however:
The Englishman, asked by the magazine to predict the winner of the first major of the season at the Masters in April, replied: "Put Tiger down for that one."
For the year's second major at the U.S. Open, he said: "You can put me down for that one."
So there you go. Major comeback from Woods coming up. Then Poulter takes the title at Torrey Pines, because, you know, Tiger NEVER plays well there.
4:37 p.m.: I'm not ready to say this. But Josh in Lincoln, Neb., apparently is:
Since no one else will say it, I will. Tiger. Is. Done. (Especially after hitting that last shot high into the bunker.)
And right on cue, Immelman makes bogey on 10. Tiger Woods within four, though obviously in trouble on No. 10.
Leads to this e-mail from Ron in Parts Unknown:
Tiger's great and everything, but coming back like Jack in 1986? No way. Jack shot a 30 on the back side in 1986. I'm guessing the course was about 125,000 times easier then than it is now. Factor in the wind as well.
If Tiger shoots LIGHTS OUT on the back side, he'd shoot a 31 or 32.
OK, I'll buy that. But it's also very conceivable that Immelman, Snedeker, Flesch et al. each shoot 37 or 38 on the back and Woods comes in with 32 or even 33 to win this thing. And I don't mean to say this just regarding Tiger. If anyone in the top five shoots 32 or 33 on the back, he might win the green jacket.
4:28 p.m.: E-mail from Bryan in Ohio, who recalls something I posted in the Round 3 blog:
Nice call yesterday on Casey. Doesn't look like he can hit the reset button now. He is going down in flames.
How much do you think he'd like to go back to No. 1 and start over again?
4:25 p.m.: E-mail from Jake in Bristow, Va., who points out this. Take a careful look. The four toughest holes? Yup, it's 9, 10, 11 and 12 -- right where the leaders are headed very soon. Amen Corner could be where Immelman wins or loses this tournament.
4:21 p.m.: Steve Flesch counters his bogey at 7 with a birdie at 8. He's now in solo second.
Nothing against Flesch, but you have to wonder how much he wants this. Here were some of his comments after yesterday's third round:
"I can't wait to see the whole video of the tournament next week when I get a hold of that. But I said to my caddie coming up 16, I said, 'You know, all the Masters I've watched, I've always wanted to be in one of the final groups.' And I said, 'No matter what I do the rest of the week, this is the best day I've ever had at Augusta.'"
Complacent? Just happy to be here? Or does he have the right attitude to fare well when the pressure is on?
4:16 p.m.: NOONAN!!!
Yip, yip, yip, yip, yip, yip, yip
Many readers have e-mailed to mention that Trevor Immelman ranked 196th in putting last year, and he just looked like it on No. 7, pulling a short birdie putt. That said, he still made par and Snedeker takes a bogey. The lead is now four.
Will that one come back to haunt Immelman? Well, it won't help his cause, I can tell you that much.
4:10 p.m.: Great e-mail from David in Mankato, Minn.:
Immelman and Woods are the only two in the top five with better scoring on the back nine than the front. Immelman is 3-under on the front, 8-under on the back; Woods is 1-under on the front, 4-under on the back.
Looks as though Immelman is trying to even that out a little bit. Great approach into No. 7, and he'll have a very makeable birdie putt.
4:02 p.m.: Immelman makes par on No. 6, Snedeker bogey. All of a sudden, the South African is three shots clear of the field and playing even-par golf for the day. Does 12 more pars win this thing? Absolutely. The other contenders have to be hoping Immelman comes back to the pack.
3:51 p.m.: I was waiting for someone to send this e-mail and I finally received it, from Chris in Sacramento:
Tiger? Out of it? I don't think so. He's down only five with three relatively unaccomplished players ahead of him. In 1986, Jack Nicklaus was 5-6 strokes back with 10 holes to play, with major winners Seve Ballesteros, Tom Kite, Greg Norman, Nick Price, Corey Pavin, Bob Tway and Payne Stewart all in the hunt. Tiger has a ways to go, but this is how legends are made.
If it happens, you know the comparisons will be made afterward. Just remember, you read it here first.
That said, par at No. 7 keeps Woods six back with 11 to play.
3:49 p.m.: Trevor Immelman makes birdie after a sublime approach on No. 5. The lead is two once again. Right where Brandt Snedeker wants it, perhaps?
3:45 p.m.: One-stroke penalty, it appears, for Paul Casey on No. 6.
This one is all Casey's fault. The one thing golfers are told, from a young age, is that when you're playing in windy conditions, do not ground your club before hitting a putt. That's exactly what Casey did, and he was forced to assess a one-stroke penalty on himself. If there is no wind and the ball happens to move, that's tough luck. But in 25-mph gusting winds, it's just a bad move to ground your putter.
Casey takes a bogey because of the penalty, falls to 4-under.
3:42 p.m.: E-mail from Ryan in Cleveland, with the first prop bet of the day -- and the only one we really need:
Based on the wind and the fact it is Sunday at Augusta, can we set the winning score over/under at 8.5-under-par? It just looks like 9-under is going to be the number to hit.
And so it is done. I'll take the
over. Wait, no. The under. Maybe. Too close to call.
Can the winner actually finish 8.5-under-par for a push?
3:38 p.m.: E-mail from Ed in Granger, Ind. -- yes, the same Ed in Granger, Ind., whose e-mail I posted 22 minutes ago:
I can't believe those idiots out there who think Tiger is over-reading his putts. He almost knocked that snake in at 5, and his birdie putt at 6 was center cut. In the future, you should really be more judicious about the e-mails you post.
How big is that bandwagon, anyway? Can everyone hop back on at once?
3:36 p.m.: Tiger Woods is now in fourth place! But he didn't even do anything to get there.
Paul Casey goes double-bogey then bogey on 4 and 5, drops to 5-under, and a tie with Woods and Stewart Cink.
3:33 p.m.: Out of it. Not out of it. Out of it. Not out of it.
Seriously, if Tiger Woods could just tell us whether he's going to be in contention at the end of the day, we'd know just how much attention we should pay to him right now. Birdie at No. 6 moves him back to within five of the lead.
Gotta say "not out of it" for now.
3:30 p.m.: E-mail from my buddy Brian in South Carolina, who noticed this at the same time I did:
Just wanted to point out what a 68 can do today. Miguel Angel Jimenez teed off in about 40th place. He is currently tied for 10th. I'm gonna take a guess and say he finishes in the top seven.
Exactly. I'll throw it out there right now. If any of the top four players -- Immelman, Snedeker, Flesch or Casey -- shoots 68, he'll win a green jacket.
3:26 p.m.: First spy report of the day from my man Lanier out on the course:
Tiger coming to co-ed heaven number at No. 6.
Um, in that case you might want to leave the porta-potty, dude.
Best place to be right now? A volunteer on one of the first three holes. One just told me their job is done for the week and now they get to watch the tournament and look forward to playing a round here at Augusta National in the coming days. What a nice fringe benefit!
And my inbox will be filled with "How do I sign up?" e-mails in 3
3:23 p.m.: Excuse me for a minute, I've got to go call my friend Jeremy for tonight's lottery numbers.
Just as soon as we're told Snedeker would rather play from behind, he shoots up to the lead, then makes bogey to fall one back.
Let's see whether Brandt can get through the entire day without a par. Come ride the Snedeker Roller Coaster! So far he has gone bogey-eagle-bogey.
3:16 p.m.: Tiger Woods makes bogey on No. 4. Guess what, folks -- he's now six behind with 14 to play. Chances are dwindling by the minute. Leads to this e-mail from Ed in Granger, Ind.:
Tiger is over-reading almost every putt he hits this week. I can't count the number of times he's read too much break. It's already happened twice today, including the short one he just missed at 4. I'm shocked he hasn't compensated for this by now.
Agreed. And it's not something we usually see from Woods, especially on a course he knows so well. I really figured he'd have everything figured out by the time he teed off in the second round, but he just looks puzzled by some of the reads out here. Doesn't matter how well he's striking the ball (which, so far, has been average, by his standards); if he can't make a putt, he's not going to move up the leaderboard. Simple as that.
3:08 p.m.: Gotta do an ESPNEWS interview. Back in a few
3:06 p.m.: Brandt Snedeker pours in a long eagle putt on No. 2 to tie for the lead at 10-under.
OK, folks. Now we get to see if Jeremy's e-mail rings true.
3:02 p.m.: Tiger makes par No. 3, which would be nice if, say, this was June and he was playing in the final round of the U.S. Open, but won't quite get it done here. Leads to this e-mail from Dee in Texas:
I want to be the first in the blog to jump off the Tiger bandwagon.
Duly noted. Just don't get trampled with everyone else piling on top. Such as
Joe in Universal City, Texas:
Tiger is TOAST! It is just not meant to be for him. He got all egotistical and said one of the hardest accomplishments in all of sports (winning the Grand Slam) was "easily within reason."
If that's his way of self-motivation, he'd better get a new one.
To Tiger's credit, he never said it was easily within reason for him; he just said it was easily within reason.
2:54 p.m.: Major props to ESPN researcher David, back in the Bristol, Conn., office. Earlier in the day, I asked him to find a way that would prove Zach Johnson and today's potential winner are the most unheralded back-to-back champs in Masters history. Here's what he came up with:
Lowest Combined PGA Tour win totals
Masters Champions, Consecutive Years
• 1979-80: Fuzzy Zoeller/Seve Ballesteros (3)
• 1993-94: Bernhard Langer/Jose Maria Olazabal (4)
• 1990-91: Nick Faldo/Ian Woosnam (4)
>> Career wins at time of victory
Of course, Seve, Langer, Ollie, Faldo and Woosie were all accomplished players on the international stage, so tallying their PGA Tour victories doesn't quite quantify the type of players they were considered globally, but at least this is a start.
Let's look at this year's potential numbers (last year's champion, Johnson, had one career win when he won the Masters):
• Trevor Immelman has one career PGA Tour win
• Brandt Snedeker has one career PGA Tour win
• Steve Flesch has four career PGA Tour wins
• Paul Casey has no career PGA TOUR wins
(Remember, however, that Casey owns eight international victories and Immelman has five.)
If either Immelman, Snedeker or Casey wins today, it will be the lowest combined total of PGA Tour wins for consecutive Masters champions in Masters history.
2:50 p.m.: E-mail from Matt in Covington, Ky.:
I am a huge Steve Flesch fan (went to the same high school as him, although I am much younger). I'm a college student and I told a friend before the tournament started that if Fleschie won I would show up to class on Monday wearing nothing but a Masters hat and golf shoes. Should I be nervous?
No. But your classmates should.
Flesch made par on the first; he's now in a share of second, two behind Immelman.
If he wins, let's declare a mental holiday for all students in Covington tomorrow. Take the day off. Or see Matt in, uh, all his glory. Your call.
2:43 p.m.: We talked yesterday about the absolute thrashing Stewart Cink has received from Tiger Woods so far this season, playing with him in the final round of the Buick Invitational (when Tiger won by eight) and getting smoked in the final match of the Accenture Match Play Championship.
Payback time? Perhaps. Cink starts birdie-birdie to pass Woods (par-par) on the leaderboard.
Just throwing this out there: If Woods just started birdie-birdie, the world would shift off its axis. But Cink? Eh, good for him
2:39 p.m.: Jingle-jangle. Jingle-jangle. You hear that? Those are nerves. And they're coming from the first green, where Immelman and Snedeker are walking off after making matching bogeys.
2:31 p.m.: Brandt Snedeker is a victim of the wind, pushing his approach shot on No. 1 into the gallery.
If you read yesterday's blog, you'll remember the following from my friend Jeremy, who played against Snedeker when he was at the University of North Carolina and contributed this:
Something to watch today: I've known Brandt a long time and played a good bit with him in college, etc. He loves chasing the lead, but it's a lot tougher for him to protect a lead or a good round. He only knows one way and one speed.
Well, Jeremy's back with a follow-up today:
I told you, he was leading and made three straight bogeys, then got aggressive coming in trying to catch Trevor and turned it around again. Will be interesting to watch today if Trevor falters.
Jeremy was right on with this and it will be interesting to see if Snedeker can play as the "chaser" rather than the "chasee" again in Round 4.
2:22 p.m.: E-mail from my buddy Chris over in Golf Channel's studio production trailer:
Finally got to walk the course today. One thing I was wondering -- how do they decide who gets to be the marker when they have an odd number of guys make the cut? The guy they had with Sandy Lyle hit it to about 8 feet at No. 4 today. At some point if he's having a good round, do they whisper to him to not beat the pro?
I actually asked someone about this the other day and was assured that Lyle couldn't just ask one of his buddies to play the course with him or -- horror of all horrors -- auction off the tee time on eBay for a little extra cash. (What, like you wouldn't pay a gazillion trillion dollars to play a sort-of-official round in the Masters?)
Instead, the club offers a marker who is already a member here and an accomplished player.
Rick in Augusta chimes in with a note on today's marker:
Nice to see Jeff Knox get called by name on 16 in the coverage on Masters.org. He played as a marker with Sandy Lyle. He's a very strong player. I wonder -- is his score made public?
If it works the way markers work at most other tournaments, there's a chance he's picked up a few times if he got into trouble or Lyle had already putted out. Then again, as Chris alluded to, maybe they'll simply make him pick up so he doesn't beat the pro.
2:18 p.m.: Someone in Tiger Woods' pairing posted a birdie on the first hole
but it wasn't Tiger Woods.
Stewart Cink makes a 3 on No. 1 and is now tied with Woods in fifth place at 5-under. Woods made par.
2:11 p.m.: First e-mail of the day from Pat in Parts Unknown comes with the cryptic subject header "BPTHWTMCBHNCFBTWO":
When do we get to start calling Tiger
the Best Player To Have Won Thirteen Major
Championships But Has Never Come From Behind To Win
Well, I guess he's already claimed that title. But as I wrote in my "What the Contenders Need to Do (And Avoid)" piece last night, I don't think this is due to any sort of inability to come from behind; it's just that it hasn't happened
yet. Is today the day? It wouldn't shock me, but then again, nothing does.
Speaking of Tiger, I shared the following text message last night with Bob Smiley of the Fore Right golf blog, who is also writing a book on what was supposed to be a monumental season for Woods:
Bob: Ugh. At this pace, Tiger will catch Immelman by Round 10.
Me: Hey, maybe you should write a book about Immelman!
After following Woods from Torrey Pines to Dubai to Tucson to Orlando to Miami and now Augusta, I don't think Bob enjoyed that comment. He never texted me back.
2:09 p.m.: One other topic of discussion among the golf writers: If Immelman (or Snedeker or Flesch or Casey) wins today and is awarded the green jacket by Zach Johnson, it would make the most unheralded back-to-back Masters champions since
when? Larry Mize to Sandy Lyle (1987-88) included one player (Lyle) with a British Open and a Players title already to his name. The trio of Gay Brewer to Bob Goalby to George Archer (1967-68-69) included a middle player (Goalby) who had won seven PGA Tour events at the time. Jack Burke to Doug Ford (1956-57)? Burke already had 10 career wins. Before that, well, there really isn't any two-year span that doesn't include at least one Hall of Fame champion, or close to it.
Moral of the story: If Johnson is draping a green jacket over the shoulders of Immelman (or Snedeker or Flesch or Casey) in a few hours, let's just say there will be fewer flashbulbs popping than when Phil Mickelson did the same for Tiger Woods or when Woods returned the favor the next year.
2:03: OK, let's talk wind. I just took a 30-minute stroll around the grounds and would say there's about a two-club wind out here. But it's very sporadic, coming in brief gusts instead of steady breezes, meaning that sometimes it's a zero-club wind and sometimes I think it can get up to even as much as possibly a four-club wind. What does that mean? Lots of pressure on players to make solid decisions and lots of swings that start in a two-club wind but get knocked off track by a quick gust or a sudden calm.
And as we all know, wind is the greatest determining factor when it comes to scoring -- much more so than rain or cold. (Earthquakes are, uh, sorta tough, too.) There are birdies to be made out here, but anything in the 60s will be a very good score.
2:00: Best day of the year in sports? You can have your Super Bowl or early-round NCAA tourney games. I'll take Masters Sunday, thanks. Somebody's going to have a brand new green jacket in a few hours
and I have no idea who it will be.
At dinner with a few fellow golf writers last night, the question was asked: "So, who's going to win?" A couple of guys abstained. (Weak!) When it came to my turn, I said, "Immelman," but it sounded more like your non-golfing buddy who asked which player was leading, then repeated the name as if he had never heard it before. "Immelman????" So yeah, the fact that I'm picking the guy to win today while adding a few question marks to his name doesn't exactly exude confidence in him.
Cool note that a few ESPN researchers and I dug up this morning: Only one previous final four in the final round of a major (2007 British Open) has failed to include a major champion in two dozen tournaments, dating back to the 2001 PGA Championship, when David Toms and Phil Mickelson (neither with a major to his name at the time) played in the final pairing, with Shingo Katayama and Steve Lowery in front of them.
What does that mean? Probably nothing. But I would limit the list of potential winners to the final pairing of Trevor Immelman and Brandt Snedeker, the penultimate pairing of Steve Flesch and Paul Casey, and the third-to-last pairing of Tiger Woods and Stewart Cink. For what it's worth, Casey agrees with me. Asked if the winner could only come from these three groups, he said, "Hmmm
That's right. Woods still has a chance to win this thing. But with a six-stroke deficit, he's hardly the favorite. It's gonna take something special -- depending on how much the 20-25 mph gusts affect play, "special" could be a 66 or it could be a wind-blown 70 (more on this in a minute) -- but we all know Tiger is capable of special.
Anyway, less talkie, more bloggie. Hit me with lots of e-mails to the address above. And keep refreshing the blog as you watch the telecast. OK? Good. Let's get going
Jason Sobel is ESPN.com's golf editor. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com