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Saturday, April 12, 2008
Updated: April 13, 9:18 PM ET
Masters Live Blog: Round 4

By Jason Sobel

Throughout this week, 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

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 … a haiku.

From Bo in Philadelphia:

Now if we only had a limerick for the occasion …

7:22 p.m.: E-mail from Dee in Texas:

Very possible.

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.

Great shot.

7:16 p.m.: E-mail from Steven in Washington, D.C.:

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:

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:

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:


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:

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.:

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.:

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:

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:

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:

And from Robert in Parts Unknown:

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 … or lose.

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:

Round 4
• 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:

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:

Yes, I've got to believe nine more pars will give Immelman the title. I thought 8.5-under was the number … maybe not.

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:

He did save par on the hole.

4:55 p.m.: E-mail from Aaron in Toledo, Ohio, actually made me laugh out loud:

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 … five bogeys.

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.:

Hee hee.

Remember what it said in that GolfWorld U.K. magazine, however:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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.:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

Um, in that case you might want to leave the porta-potty, dude.

Here's more:

And my inbox will be filled with "How do I sign up?" e-mails in 3 … 2 … 1 …

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.:

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:

Duly noted. Just don't get trampled with everyone else piling on top. Such as …

Joe in Universal City, Texas:

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.:

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:

Well, Jeremy's back with a follow-up today:

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:

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:

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":

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 … yes."

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's golf editor. He can be reached at