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  • Golf Glance
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, April 18, 2018

    PGA Tour: Valero Texas Open, April 19-22

    • TPC San Antonio - AT&T Oaks, San Antonio, Texas (Greg Norman/Sergio Garcia; Par 72, 7,435 yards)

      Purse: $6.2 million; $1.116 million to winner

      Defending Champion: Kevin Chappell

      Television: Thursday-Friday 3:30-6:30 p.m. ET (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 1-2:45 p.m. ET (Golf Channel), 3-6 p.m. ET (CBS Sports)

      LAST WEEK: RBC Heritage (Satoshi Kodaira)

      THIS WEEK: Chappell enters as the defending champion for the first time in his PGA Tour career. Zach Johnson (2008-09) is the last player to successfully defend at the Texas Open. ... Sergio Garcia, who was a consultant on the course design, is in the field for the first time since the Oaks course made its debut in 2010. Adam Scott won that year, and returns to the event for the first time since 2011. ... Charley Hoffman won the event in 2015 and has finished in the top 15 in 10 of his previous 12 starts. ... The par-5 18th hole played to a stroke average of 4.855 last year, making the closing hole the third easiest on the course in 2017. ... 19-year-old Joaquin Niemann from Chile will make his professional debut. No player from Chile has won on the PGA Tour. ... The Texas Open (1922) is the third-oldest non-major on the PGA Tour behind the BMW Championship (1899) and the RBC Canadian Open (1904). The tournament will move to the week before the Masters next year ... India's Shubhankar Sharma makes his third start in Texas this year (Dell Match Play in Austin, Houston Open).

      NEXT WEEK: Zurich Classic of New Orleans

      LPGA Tour: HUGEL-JTBC LA Open, April 19-22

      Wilshire Country Club, Los Angeles, Calif. (Norman Macbeth, Par 71, 6,450 yards)

      Purse: $1.5 million; $225,000 to winner

      Defending Champion: Inaugural event

      Television: Thursday-Friday 6:30-9:30 p.m. ET (Golf Channel), Saturday-Sunday 6-9 p.m. ET (Golf Channel)

      LAST WEEK: LOTTE Championship (Brooke Henderson)

      THIS WEEK: All eight winners on Tour this season and 21 of the top 25 ranked players in the world are in the field. The last LPGA event held at Wilshire Country Club was in 2001, with Sweden's Annika Sorenstam coming from 10 shots behind in the final round to beat Korea's Mi Hyun Kim on the first playoff hole. ... Wilshire has played host to the PGA Tour's L.A. Open (now the Genesis Open at Riviera) four times. ... China's Shanshan Feng is No. 1 for the 23rd consecutive week. ... This is one of three inaugural events on the LPGA Tour this season. ... Korea's Inbee Park leads the Race to the CME Globe with 1,048 points, followed by Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn (963), who has five top-seven finishes in eight events this season.

      NEXT WEEK: LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship, San Francisco, Calif.

      Champions Tour: Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge, April 20-22

      Buffalo Ridge Golf Course, Ridgedale, Mo. (Tom Fazio, Par 71, 6,963 yards); Top of the Rock (Jack Nicklaus Signature nine-hole Par 3); Mountain Top (Gary Player 13-hole Par 3)

      Purse: $1.8 million, (Team: $348,750)

      Defending Champion: Carlos Franco, Vijay Singh

      Television: Friday 12:30-3 p.m. ET (Golf Channel), Saturday-Sunday 3-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel)

      LAST WEEK: Mitsubishi Electric Classic (Steve Flesch)

      THIS WEEK: The second oldest event in senior golf dates back to the inaugural event won by Sam Snead and Gardner Dickinson in 1978, and adds Mountain Top to the rotation this year. ... 18 teams will play 18 holes at Top of the Rock on Friday (Alternate shot on front nine, Best ball on back nine), with the other 18 teams playing 13 holes of Best ball at Mountain Top. The 18 teams switch courses on Saturday. On Sunday, all teams play 18 holes at Top of the Rock (Alternate shot on front nine, Best ball on back nine). ... Franco and Singh recorded a tournament-record score of 12-under 42 at Top of the Rock to come from seven shots back to win last year. ... Steve Strick and Jerry Kelly, who are Nos. 1 and 2 in the Charles Schwab Cup, will play together in a team event for the seventh time since 2008.

      NEXT WEEK: Off

      --Field Level Media

  • Haas shoots 65, leads Mitsubishi Electric Classic
    By Field Level Media / Friday, April 13, 2018

    Jay Haas shot a 7-under par 65 on Friday to take a one-shot lead over Steve Flesch after the first round of the Mitsubishi Electric Classic in Duluth, Ga.

    • With inclement weather forecasted for Sunday, tournament organizers decided both the second and third rounds will be played on Saturday, with the threesomes remaining the same throughout the day. The second round will begin at 7:15 a.m. ET, with the final round scheduled to start at 12:45 p.m.

      Haas carded a bogey-free round Friday, posting his lowest score in 15 career rounds at TPC Sugarloaf. The 65-year-old Haas is the fourth-oldest player in the field behind Larry Nelson (4-over), Tom Watson (6-over) and Tom Kite (5-over).

      Flesch was also bogey-free on Friday, hitting 17 of 18 greens in posting his lowest score to par since shooting a 66 in the second round of the 2017 Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

      Bernhard Langer, fresh off tying for 38th at the Masters last week, is in third place after shooting a 5-under 67 on Friday. He is seeking to win a tournament for the 12th consecutive year, which would break his tie with Hale Irwin for the most all-time.

      Georgia natives Scott Parel (Augusta) and Gene Sauers (Savannah) are tied for fourth another shot off the pace.

      Defending champion Stephen Ames is in a tie for 19th at 1 under.

      --Field Level Media

  • Tiger confirms he'll play first U.S. Open since 2015
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, April 12, 2018

    Tiger Woods is confirmed to play in the U.S. Open for the first time since 2015.

    • The U.S. Golf Association announced on Thursday that Woods intends to compete at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., June 14-17.

      Woods is a three-time U.S. Open champion. He has finished in the event's top 10 just twice since his third victory, at Torrey Pines in 2008. That was also the most recent of his 14 major championships.

      He is coming off a tie for 32nd at the Masters.

      Woods last played the U.S. Open in 2015 at Chambers Bay in University Place, Washington, missing the cut.

      Woods has made six starts on the PGA Tour in his return from his latest back surgery, finishing as the runner-up in the Valspar Championship and tied for fifth in the Arnold Palmer Invitational in the lead up to the Masters.

      -- Field Level Media

  • Firestone will host Senior Players Championship in 2019
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, April 12, 2018

    While Firestone Country Club is set to lose its annual World Golf Championships event, the club won't be left high and dry.

    • The Akron, Ohio, club will host the 2019 Bridgestone Senior Players Championship next July 11-14, the PGA Tour announced early Thursday.

      The PGA Tour will announce a new host for the WGC event at 3 p.m. Thursday.

      Bridgestone, which sponsored the WGC event at Firestone, will move its sponsorship to the Players Championship, one of five majors on the PGA Champions Tour.

      "Bridgestone has been a tremendous partner and valued member of the PGA Tour family since 2005, and we are excited to begin this new journey with them as we bring major championship golf to Northeast Ohio with the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship," said PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, per Golfweek.com.

      "With Firestone Country Club's South Course as the host venue, golf's 65-year tradition in Akron will continue."

      --Field Level Media

  • Golf Glance
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, April 11, 2018

    PGA Tour: RBC Heritage, April 12-15

    • Harbour Town Golf Links; Hilton Head Island, S.C. (Pete Dye; Par 71, 7,099 yards)

      Purse: $6.7 million; $1.206 million to winner

      Defending Champion: Wesley Bryan

      Television: Thursday-Friday 3-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 1-2:45 p.m. ET (Golf Channel), 3-6 p.m. ET (CBS Sports)

      LAST WEEK: The Masters (Patrick Reed winner)

      THIS WEEK: For the seventh consecutive season, the RBC Heritage immediately follows the Masters. ... World No. 1 and South Carolina native Dustin Johnson is the only top 10 player in the field, although seven of the top 25 players are entered, including No. 13 Paul Casey and No. 16 Marc Leishman, who are both coming off top-15 finishes at Augusta National. ... The field includes 33 players who played in the Masters last week. ... Fourteen of the top 30 players in the FedExCup standings are entered, including Patton Kizzire (No. 2), Johnson (No. 7) and Casey (No. 10). ... Seven of the 11 RBC Heritage winners in the FedExCup era have gone on to reach the season-ending Tour Championship. ... This is the 50th RBC Heritage, with past winners including inaugural champion Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Hale Irwin, Fuzzy Zoeller, Tom Watson, Nick Faldo, Davis Love III, Greg Norman and Nick Price. ... Wesley Bryan earned his first career PGA Tour victory at the RBC last year, rallying from four-shots back on Sunday to beat Luke Donald by one shot. ... Donald has seven top-three finishes at the event, one of only five players to finish runner-up at an event at least five times since 1934. ... Bryan is seeking to join Payne Stewart (1989-90), Davis Love III (1991-92) and Boo Weekley (2007-08) as the only back-to-back winners of the event. ... The past five winners of the event have trailed by at least three strokes entering the final round. ... The lighthouse behind the 18th green will feature a tartan wrapping to commemorate the event's 50th anniversary. The winner receives a tartan jacket.

      NEXT WEEK: Valero Texas Open, San Antonio, Texas

      LPGA Tour: LOTTE Championship, April 11-14

      Ko Olina Golf Club, Kapolei, Hawaii (Ted Robinson, Par 72, 6,397 yards)

      Purse: $2 million

      Defending Champion: Cristie Kerr

      Television: Thursday-Saturday 7-11 p.m. ET (Golf Channel)

      LAST WEEK: Off

      THIS WEEK: The LPGA Tour returns to Ko Olina for the seventh consecutive year, with seven of the top 10 players in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings in the field, along with ANA Inspiration champion Pernilla Lindberg. ... Cristie Kerr returns to Hawaii to defend her 2017 title, which she earned with a tournament record 20-under 268 score, punctuated by a final-round 66. She has three other top-10 finishes in six previous LOTTE Championships and needs five points to qualify for the LPGA Hall of Fame. ... Previous LOTTE champions Kerry, Michelle Wie (2014) and Sei Young Kim ('15) will be paired together Wednesday, teeing off on the 10th hole. ... China's Shanshan Feng is in her 22nd week at No. 1 in the world rankings.

      NEXT WEEK: LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship, San Francisco

      Champions Tour: Mitsubishi Electric Classic, April 13-15

      TPC Sugarloaf, Duluth, Ga. (Greg Norman, Par 72, 7,259 yards)

      Purse: $1.8 million, $270,000 to winner

      Defending Champion: Stephen Ames

      Television: Friday 12 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. ET (Golf Channel), Saturday-Sunday 3-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel)

      LAST WEEK: Off

      THIS WEEK: All five previous champions and 31 of the top 36 players in the Charles Schwab Cup standings are in the 78-player field. ... 2018 tournament winners Jerry Kelly, Mark Calcavecchia, Joe Durant and Vijay Singh are also entered. Singh made the cut and finished 49th at the Masters last week. Others in the field who competed at Augusta are Bernhard Langer (t-38th), Sandy Lyle, Larry Mize, Mark O'Meara, Jose Maria Olazabal and Ian Woosnam. ... Defending champion Stephen Ames won his first Champions title at the event last year, becoming the third Canadian to win on the tour with his four-shot victory. Ames also became just the 11th player to record victories on the Web.com, PGA and Champions tours. ... Tom Watson, 68, will make his 200th start on the Champions tour. ... The field has averaged over par in three of the previous five events held at TPC Sugarload.

      NEXT WEEK: Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge, Ridgedale, Mo.

      --Field Level Media

  • Reed takes over U.S. Ryder Cup points lead
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, April 10, 2018

    France can officially brace for the arrival of "Captain America" in the fall.

    • Patrick Reed's triumph at the Masters vaulted him eight spots to No. 1 in the United States Ryder Cup Team Points released Tuesday. The polarizing hero of the U.S. victory at Hazeltine two years ago was almost certain to make captain Jim Furyk's squad with his long history of match play success, but Reed has now all but locked up one of the eight automatic spots on the team.

      The four majors in 2018 are weighted heavily in the points race, with winners receiving two points per $1,000 earned at the Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship, and all other players receiving 1.5 points per $1,000 earned. That's compared to one point per every $1,000 earned in regular PGA Tour events in 2018 leading up to the Aug. 12 cutoff.

      That led to the biggest shakeup in the U.S. points standings this year following the Masters. Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson each moved down a spot while remaining in the top five. Rickie Fowler jumped four spots to No. 6 with his runner-up finish at Augusta National, while Brooks Koepka fell two more spots to No. 7 while he continues to recover from a wrist injury.

      Phil Mickelson is currently holding onto the final automatic qualifying spot at No. 8, followed by Matt Kuchar, Brian Harman, Kevin Kisner and Gary Woodland. Chez Reavie, Tony Finau and Charlie Hoffman round out the top 15. Tiger Woods, who will serve as a co-captain on the team, is no longer among the top 25. Furyk will also have four captain's picks to round out his 12-player team.

      Reed earned the moniker of "Captain America" in helping lead the U.S. to just its second Ryder Cup victory since 1999, including a dramatic showdown against Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy in the Sunday singles pairings. Paired again with McIlroy in the final round of the Masters, Reed shot a 1-under 71 to win his first major championship while McIlroy struggled to a tie for fifth after carding a 2-over 74 -- the only player to finish in the top 15 who shot over par on Sunday.

      The 42nd Ryder Cup will be held at Le Golf National in Paris this September. Future venues include Whistling Straits in Haven, Wis. in 2020, the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Italy in '22 and Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, N.Y. in '24. Europe has yet to announce the home courses for the 2026 and '30 Ryder Cups. After returning to Hazeltine in '28, the next U.S. course will be The Olympic Club in San Francisco in 2032.

      --Field Level Media

  • Masters champ Reed is no Spieth -- when it comes to U.S. Open oddsmakers
    By Field Level Media / Monday, April 9, 2018

    Patrick Reed may have stared down some of the biggest names in golf Sunday to win the Masters, but that didn't impress the oddsmakers quite as much come Monday.

    • Online sportsbook Bovada on Sunday listed Reed at 40-1 odds to win the U.S. Open in June at Shinnecock Hills in New York. On Monday, Reed's number had improved, up to 28-1.

      But the three golfers who finished directly behind him, plus Reed's Sunday playing partner whom he beat by three strokes in the final round at Augusta, all had better odds.

      The favorite is American Jordan Spieth. The 2015 U.S. Open winner is listed at 9-1, up from his 10-1 odds on Sunday. Spieth shot a record-tying final-round 64 on Sunday to finish two strokes behind Reed. Runner-up Rickie Fowler, who lost by just one stroke to Reed, is tied with Tiger Woods at 14-1. Woods finished tied for 32nd at 1-over par last weekend.

      Fourth-place Masters finisher Jon Rahm of Spain is tied with Jason Day at 18-1.

      Coming in just behind Spieth at 10-1 odds to win the season's second major are Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy. McIlroy teed off with Reed in the final pairing on Sunday, but was inconsistent on his front 9 and never challenged down the stretch. He finished tied for fifth with Bubba Watson and Henrik Stenson, six shots behind Reed.

      Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is listed at 40-1.

      Here is a look at the 10 golfers with the best odds to win the U.S. Open, along with other notable golfers, per Bovada as of Monday:

      Jordan Spieth: 9-1

      Dustin Johnson: 10-1

      Rory McIlroy: 10-1

      Tiger Woods: 14-1

      Rickie Fowler: 14-1

      Justin Thomas: 16-1

      Jason Day: 18-1

      Jon Rahm: 18-1

      Hideki Matsuyama: 20-1

      Justin Rose: 22-1

      Notables

      Patrick Reed: 28-1

      Sergio Garcia: 28-1

      Henrik Stenson: 33-1

      Phil Mickelson: 33-1

      Bubba Watson: 40-1

      Brooks Koepka: 40-1

      Tony Finau: 75-1

      --Field Level Media

  • Woods scores final-round 69 at Masters, ties for 32nd
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, April 8, 2018

    Tiger Woods knew before the start of play Sunday that he would not need to be fitted for a fifth Masters Green Jacket.

    • But he delivered the occasional snippet that displayed he might need to make more room in the closet in a future year after finishing strong with a final round 3-under 69.

      Overall, Woods finished his four rounds at the Masters at 1-over 289 in his first time meandering around Augusta National since 2015. He tied for 32nd place, 16 shots behind winner Patrick Reed.

      "I thoroughly missed it. I missed playing major championships," Woods said in a post-round interview with CBS. "It's been 2 1/2, three years since I've played in a major championship and normally I build my schedules around them. This was great to be back and be able to play in a major again and to have an opportunity to win the title at the beginning of the week.

      "Obviously, it didn't pan out. I didn't hit my irons good enough, I didn't make enough birdies, I made too many mistakes. But overall, it was fun to be able to compete again and play in the Masters."

      His highlight shot on Sunday was when he scored an eagle on the par-5 15th hole. Woods successfully read the 30-foot putt and pushed it hard to the left at the outset and the ball quickly shifted toward the right and went directly at the hole and dropped in.

      Woods had a chance to finish at even par for the tournament but he missed a short par putt on 18.

      For the round, Woods also had five birdies and four bogeys in addition to the eagle.

      "I drove it on a string today, which was nice," Woods said. "I had another loose day on the irons and I putted awful today ... All in all, it was a bittersweet ending."

      One of Woods' longtime rivals also scored an eagle on 15. Phil Mickelson had one earlier Sunday while posting a 67.

      The round was easily Mickelson's best of the week as he finished at 2-over 290.

      Meanwhile, Woods continues to search for his stride after the long layoff.

      He had three birdies and three bogeys during an uneven 36 on the front nine. Woods scored birdies on two par-5 holes (2 and 8) and also recorded one on the par-3 4.

      The bogeys were on par-4 holes 3, 7 and 9.

      On the back side, Woods scored another birdie on the par-5 13 and that prompted a strong run that included the eagle on 15 and a birdie on the par-4 17.

      The latter birdie briefly got Woods back to even par for the first time since Thursday.

      Woods tipped his cap and his golf club to ovations as he walked up the fairway on 18. But he was unable to finish in style due to the subpar putting on the 18th green.

      Woods is making his way back after undergoing four back operations. He recently returned to the PGA Tour earlier this year.

      Woods has won 14 major titles but the last was back in 2008, when he outlasted Rocco Mediate in the famous 91-hole U.S. Open battle at Torrey Pines.

      Woods opened the tourney with a 73 on Thursday in his first round at August National in 1,089 days.

      The second round was a step back as he shot 3-over 75, but he managed to make the cut by one shot.

      That round left Woods 13 shots behind second-round leader Patrick Reed, making it clear Woods wouldn't be a contender.

      An even-par 72 on Saturday kept Woods at 4-over and also made it clear he wasn't going to be in the mix for a high finish. But he did need just 29 putts while playing the picturesque course.

      Woods did a good deed prior to his opening round when he briefly visited with wheelchair-bound Shane Caldwell, a 52-year-old man from Columbia, S.C., fighting stage 4 lung cancer.

      Caldwell's stepdaughter, Jordan Miller, put the word out through social media that the dying man had always wanted to meet Woods. The Tiger Woods Foundation eventually learned of Miller's request and set up a meeting with Woods and Caldwell as Woods was leaving the driving range.

      Woods said he will now take a break and try to improve his fitness. But he leaves the event with an appreciative feel and liked this visit to the Masters much better than the last two.

      "It felt great to compete out there again and walk this golf course," Woods said. "The last couple years I came here, it was just to eat. (This is) a much better way to come to August National."

      --Field Level Media

  • Simpson shoots back-to-back eagles at Masters
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, April 8, 2018

    Webb Simpson joined some elite company on Sunday, hitting back-to-back eagles in the final round of the Masters at Augusta National.

    • Starting the day at 3 over, Simpson birdied the second hole to get off to a solid start.

      But at No. 7, a par 4, he holed out his second shot from 166 yards for eagle. He followed that up by chipping in on the par-5 No. 8 to move to 5 under on the day and 2 under for the tournament.

      Only three other players -- Phil Mickelson (2010), Dustin Johnson (2009) and Dan Pohl (1982) -- have accomplished the feat. Theirs all came on the 13th and 14th holes.

      Simpson, the 2012 US Open winner, had only two eagles ever at the Masters coming into Sunday's round, according to Yahoo Sports.

      He hit another birdie on the 11th hole to go one shot lower.

      --Field Level Media

  • Tiger recovers from tough start to card 72 at Masters
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, April 7, 2018

    Tiger Woods recovered from a bogey-bogey start to his third round at the Masters on Saturday to record an even par round of 72 and remain at 4-over (220) for the tournament.

    • He was in a tie for 42nd when he walked off the course shortly before 3 p.m. ET, with the leaders yet to tee off, and tied for 40th when Patrick Reed wrapped up several hours later.

      Despite hitting only four fairways Saturday, it was Woods' best round of the tournament after recording a 73 in the opening round and a 75 on Friday.

      Woods bogeyed each of his first two holes Saturday to fall back to 6-over, but recovered the shots with birdies on Nos. 6 and 8 to make the turn at even par 36. He parred the first five holes on his back nine before a bogey at the par-5 15th hole. Woods followed that with a birdie at the par-3 16th and closed out his round with a pair of pars.

      He hit 12 of 18 greens and needed 29 putts to get around Augusta National on Saturday. He continues to fail to consistently take advantage of the par-5s that have long been a source of his Masters success. Woods was 1-over on the par-5s Saturday - two bogeys, a birdie and a par - and is only 1-under on the par-5s this week.

      "Again, I didn't play the par-5s well and I didn't hit a lot of good iron shots," Woods told reporters after his round. "It was the same as yesterday."

      He has hit only 19 of 42 fairways through the first three rounds.

      "This week, I'm hitting so many good putts, they're just not going in," Woods said, shaking his head. "But I'm not hitting it close enough. I'm not getting up there, I'm not taking advantage of the par-5s, and consequently a good-fought round is even par."

      Woods did fare better than Phil Mickelson, who triple-bogeyed his opening hole en route to a 2-over 74 on Saturday. Mickelson also bogeyed his second hole before recovering three shots with an eagle on the par-5 eighth and a birdie on No. 9 to make the turn in 37.

      He traded a bogey and a birdie on Nos. 13 and 14 and closed with a bogey on No. 18 after leaving his third shot on the front side of the green with a back pin placement and two-putting.

      Woods was asked what he hoped to accomplish during Sunday's final round while being out of contention, as he will begin the day 18 shots off Reed's lead.

      "Hopefully I can hit my irons better," he said. "It's been scratchy this week. I just haven't gotten it done. I feel like I'm driving it better than I have all year, but I am not capitalizing on it. And when I did miss, I missed in the wrong spots. My swing is just off with my irons, and just at the wrong time."

      Woods, who fell out of the top 1,000 while recovering from fusion surgery on his back last year, will return to the top 100 by making the cut this week.

      "I'm just kind of gradually working on it," he said when asked if it marked any kind of milestone in his comeback. "Just gradually building. I was pretty far out there... I've had some success so far in this comeback. I'm getting there. I wish this week was a little better.

      "Hopefully tomorrow I can shoot something to get me to even par or even in the red. I think that will be a good goal tomorrow. And I hope I can get it done."

      --Field Level Media

  • Woods makes cut after 3-over second round at Masters
    By Field Level Media / Friday, April 6, 2018

    Tiger Woods' hopes of winning the 2018 Masters are on life support after he shot a second-round 75 on Friday to finish a stroke above the field's cut line (5 over) at 4 over entering the weekend.

    • Woods shot an opening-round 73 on Thursday at Augusta National in pursuit of his fifth Masters victory. He finished the second round seven strokes behind clubhouse leader Jordan Spieth.

      Woods got off to a rough start on the front nine Friday, bogeying his first hole and registering a double bogey on the par-4 5th hole, where his second shot was buried in magnolia bushes and took minutes for him to find, eventually resulting in an unplayable lie and a drop and chip-out from the trees.

      He was better on the back nine, with birdies on the 13th and 15th, but bogeys on the 12th and 16th kept Woods from finishing any better than 3 over on the day.

      "I didn't hit my irons very crisp and very clean, so I didn't control my distance and shapes or anything," he told ESPN shortly after wrapping up his round.

      Woods said he was unaware of his standing as the day went on, hoping to stay within 10 strokes of the leader. He finished 13 strokes behind Patrick Reed (9 under), who shot a 6-under 66 and registered nine birdies on the day.

      "I'm going to have to shoot a special weekend and need help," Woods said of his chances. "I'm not in control of my own destiny here -- I'm so far back. I don't know what the weather is for tomorrow (with thunderstorms expected), but I need to go out there and shoot something in the mid-60s and hopefully do the same thing on Sunday."

      Woods is back at golf's first major of the year for the first time since 2015. That was also the last time Woods made the cut in a major, failing in two other attempts.

      "It was about six months ago I didn't know if I was going to play again," Woods said, referring to his recovery from back surgery last year that threatened his career. "It's incredible and I'm just so thankful to have this opportunity to be able to play golf again."

      --Field Level Media

  • Tiger shares inspirational moment with man battling lung cancer
    By Field Level Media / Friday, April 6, 2018

    Tiger Woods isn't too busy during Masters week to pass up doing a good deed.

    • After warming up on the driving range prior to Thursday's opening round, Woods briefly visited with wheelchair-bound Shane Caldwell, a 52-year-old man fighting stage 4 lung cancer.

      The meeting began with the famous Tiger Woods smile and this greeting: "Are you Shane?"

      Woods and Caldwell briefly chatted and Woods signed his golf glove and handed it to Caldwell. Woods wished Caldwell the best moving forward.

      "It was pretty emotional," Caldwell told the Amarillo Globe-News.

      An avid golfer before becoming ill, it has long been the dream of the Columbia, S.C., resident to meet Woods. And his stepdaughter, Jordan Miller, put the possibility into action by working social media and word eventually made it to the Tiger Woods Foundation, which got in touch with Miller and set up Thursday's meeting.

      "She wanted to do everything she could for her stepdad to meet Tiger Woods," Renay Caldwell, wife of Shane, told the Globe-News. "She sent out tweets and she hounded everybody under God's creation. She is a full-time student and mother. She has spent every waking minute trying to get people to respond, tweeting ESPN and even one the of the Bachelors."

      Miller's efforts paid off -- she termed the idea as "a crazy dream" -- and that left her stepfather with a stellar day to remember.

      Not to mention scoring a pretty good memento with the golf glove, one that contained an inspirational message:

      "Stay strong!!

      Tiger Woods"

      --Field Level Media

  • Mickelson shoots 79, matches worst round of career at Masters
    By Field Level Media / Friday, April 6, 2018

    Phil Mickelson's Masters' stock took a turn for the worse on Friday as he followed up an opening-round 2-under par 70 with a second-round 79 to match his worst performance of his career in a round at Augusta National.

    • Mickelson finished the day at 5-over 149, right at the field's cut line.

      "I don't know what's happened the last couple of days. It's a little disappointing," Mickelson told ESPN after his round. "I've been playing so well this year. To play like this ... it's disappointing. This is my favorite tournament of the year. A rough couple of days."

      Mickelson found himself near the top of the leaderboard Friday with an early birdie paired with early struggles by first-round leader Jordan Spieth.

      But then came the par-4 No. 9, and the three-time Masters winner came undone. Sitting just one shot off the lead, Mickelson sent his tee shot right of the fairway -- not a bad lie, but with a pair of trees sitting directly between him and where he wanted his ball to go.

      Not one to shy away from a challenge, Lefty tried to punch it between (or around) the trees. He hit one of the trees flush, the ball ricocheting right and landing farther away from the hole and into the bushes.

      With an unplayable lie, Mickelson chose to drop and replay from his original drop in the pine straw, ultimately carding a triple-bogey 7.

      "There was plenty of gap," Mickelson said. "I was trying to run a 2-iron down there to try and salvage par, get it up and down. I was even for the day, 2 under for the tournament. It wasn't a hard par if I just chased it down there by the green. But I pushed it, and it wound up in the bushes."

      Mickelson responded with a birdie on the 10th, but a bogey on the 11th and double-bogey on the 12th -- after his tee shot rolled into Rae's Creek -- further complicated matters. He finished with two bogeys (16th and 18th) in his last six holes.

      Mickelson pointed to an issue in his swing as reason for his struggles Friday.

      "I thought we had kind of fixed it," he said. "Really good warm-up and was hitting it great, and then the first hole I blocked it again. I was a little worried the rest of the round, and that was kind of the case. Didn't quite have it again. The conditions were a little more severe, and so the misses were magnified."

      --Field Level Media

  • Spieth rides birdie spree to Round 1 lead at the Masters
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, April 5, 2018

    Jordan Spieth, the 2015 champion, fashioned a splendid 6-under-par 66 to sweep to a two-shot lead after the first round of the Masters Tournament on Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga.

    • Spieth reached 7-under with birdies on the 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th holes before hitting his drive on the closing hole left and into the trees and scrambling to save bogey.

      The latter saw him chip sideways out of the trees and play a 3-wood from the start of the fairway to the left of the green before an inch-perfect chip that stopped just shy of falling in the cup for par.

      "I knew left of the green I had room there, it was obviously a fantastic shot," Spieth said of the chip on ESPN after his round. "I couldn't get it closer with a bucket of balls."

      While he's in a familiar position -- leading after a round at The Masters for the ninth time in 17 career rounds in the tournament -- Spieth knows there is a long way to go.

      "It's Round 1," he said. "I know as well as anybody that anything happens here at Augusta National. I'm not going to get ahead of myself. It's riding momentum from last week."

      Tony Finau and Matt Kuchar two strokes back after shooting 68s. Henrik Stenson of Sweden, Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, Patrick Reed, Charley Hoffman, Adam Hadwin of Canada, Rafa Cabrera Bello of Spain and Haotong Li of China share fourth place after 69s in conditions that were cool and mostly calm.

      Early-wave leaders Bernd Wiesberger of Austria, Marc Leishman of Australia and 2007 champion Zach Johnson are at 70 with late finishers Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler, while Vijay Singh of Fiji (who won this event in 2000), Satoshi Kodaira of Japan, Cameron Smith of Australia, Xander Schauffele and Louis Ooshuizen of South Africa shot 71 on Thursday to finish three strokes off the lead.

      Amateur Doug Ghim holed out from the fairway on the 18th hole for his second eagle of the day, placing him in a group at 72 that included Italy's Francesco Molinari, Kyle Stanley, Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, Tommy Fleetwood of England and 1992 champion Fred Couples.

      Four-time champion Tiger Woods was among a group at 73 after the morning wave that included Ted Potter Jr., Brian Harman, Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, Jason Dufner, Pat Perez and Daniel Berger.

      Defending champion Sergio Garcia of Spain tied a dubious mark with a 13 on the par-5 15th hole on Thursday. Garcia came to the 15th tee at 2-over-par, but hit five consecutive shots into the pond that fronts the putting surface by landing them on the sloped green and watching as his ball rolled back into the water.

      His score on the 15th tied the course record for shots on a single hole and set the record for the highest score on No. 15. The previous high score on the hole was an 11. Garcia made an eagle 3 on the same hole in the final round last year en route to victory.

      Garcia made a tough, side-hill 10-foot putt to end the torture, and then birdied the par-3 16th on the way to a round of 81, tied with amateur Matt Parziale for 85th in the 87-player field.

      --Field Level Media

  • Woods wraps Masters first round 1-over
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, April 5, 2018

    Tiger Woods shot an opening-round 73 on Thursday at Augusta National in pursuit of his fifth Masters victory.

    • "I definitely didn't score as well as I could," Woods told ESPN shortly after wrapping up his opening 18. "I hit the ball a little better than my score indicates. I need to play the par-5s a little bit better. As of right now, I'm only five back. This is a very bunched leaderboard. I think that by the end of the week it's going to be pretty crowded."

      The round Thursday was the fifth for Woods in 79 career rounds on the course in which he failed to birdie a par-5.

      Woods had a chance to get to even par for the day with a long birdie chance on the 18th but settled for a tap-in for par and finished 1-over.

      "It's quick at the start and then it flattens out, I just thought it was going to be quick and downgrain all the way through," Woods said of his putt on 18.

      For Woods, Thursday was his first round in the event in 1,089 days, and he walked of the course lamenting a few missed opportunities.

      "Some opportunities to make some birdies and didn't do it," Woods said.

      With four bogeys in the first round, including on back-to-back on the 11th and 12th when his driver accuracy failed him, Woods was able to birdie 14 and 16 to get to 1-over.

      Woods was back at golf's first major of the year for the first time since 2015. That was also the last time Woods made the cut in a major, failing in two other attempts.

      Woods entered the event with consecutive top-five finishes for the first time since 2013.

      --Field Level Media

  • Defending Masters champ Garcia cards 13 on No. 15
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, April 5, 2018

    Sergio Garcia tied a dubious mark at the Masters with a 13 on the par-5 15th hole at Augusta National.

    • Garcia finished 9-over-par after one round and needed 43 strokes to finish the back nine.

      Garcia came to the 15th tee at 2-over-par. But the defending champion lost five consecutive shots in the water by landing them on the sloped green only to watch his ball roll into the water at the front right of the green.

      The 2017 Masters winner tied the course record for shots on a single hole and set the record for the highest score on No. 15. The previous high score on the hole, referred to as Firethorn, was an 11 (by Jumbo Ozaki in 1987, Ben Crenshaw in1997 and Ignacio Garrido in 1998).

      During the 2017 event, Garcia needed only 20 shots to play the 15th hole over four rounds.

      Garcia made a tough 10-foot putt to end the torture. He birdied the par-3 16th.

      Tom Weiskopf carded a 13 on the 12th in 1980 and Tommy Nakajima had the same score at No. 13 in 1978.

      --Field Level Media

  • Multiple injuries reported as Masters-bound bus crashes
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, April 5, 2018

    A bus taking passengers to the Masters golf tournament flipped over on a Georgia interstate on Thursday, injuring numerous people.

    • The Georgia State Patrol said 18 people were aboard. Various reports had as many as 16 passengers being taken to a nearby hospitals, with an area television station reporting five were listed in serious condition.

      Police said driver Steven F. Hoppenbrouwer, 61, of of Gwinnett County, Ga., was charged with driving under the influence and failure to maintain a lane.

      Police said the bus drove off the side of the road at around 8:45 a.m. on Interstate 20 about 18 miles west of Augusta National Golf Club. Their report said the driver ran off the right side, then overcorrected before the bus overturned in the median.

      A man who answered the phone of the Georgia-based limousine company operating the bus refused to comment, according to multiple reports.

      -- Field Level Media

  • Finau shoots 68 despite ailing ankle
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, April 5, 2018

    Tony Finau didn't appear the least bit hampered by his ailing ankle while carding a 4-under 68 in Thursday's opening round of the Masters.

    • The 28-year-old Finau collected six birdies and two bogeys during his stellar round. He was the clubhouse leader when his round ended, though Jordan Spieth used a stretch of five straight birdies to hold a two-shot lead at 6 under when Thursday's action was complete.

      "There's no way I thought I was going to be in this position," Finau said on ESPN after his round.

      Finau was cleared to play after receiving an MRI exam on his dislocated left ankle Thursday morning. He was on the driving range Thursday morning and appeared to be walking gingerly.

      Finau said after his round that on a scale of 1-10, his pain rated "a 10 for sure" when the injury happened, but it bothered him less and less as Thursday unfolded.

      "I stopped thinking about it," he said. "I was able to stay in the moment because of my foot. Every shot that I hit, I had to think about it a little bit. So it was easy for me to stay in the moment. (The ankle) kind of masked the pressure."

      Finau was injured celebrating a hole-in-one during the Par-3 Contest on Wednesday. After making the ace, Finau, whose wife and four children served as his caddy, ran toward the green in celebration. He turned around to run backward and slipped while backpedaling, turning his ankle in the process and dropping to a knee.

      He appeared to pop the ankle back into place before limping back to the tee box. He received X-rays, which were negative, but did not finish the event.

      Finau teed off at 12:43 p.m. ET with Bernhard Langer and Yuta Ikeda in his pairing.

      He got off to a shaky start with a bogey before notching four birdies on the front nine. Finau added two more birdies on the back nine as well as one bogey, and saved par at 18 by sinking a 13-foot putt.

      Finau, ranked No. 32 in the world, is playing in his first Masters. At the end of the first round, he sits tied with Matt Kuchar for second behind Spieth. He is scheduled to tee off at 9:36 a.m. on Friday for Round 2.

      --Field Level Media

  • The Masters remains one of America’s foremost sports spectacles
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, April 4, 2018

    If there's a single recognized symbol for American golf, then it's The Masters Tournament, one of the world's premier sporting events and a place where the change in seasons melds with the pursuit of winning one of the game's most important events.

    • Eighty-seven invited golfers will tee it up at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga. beginning Thursday for a shot at golf immortality. A victory accomplished here among the Georgia pines and Azaleas procures membership into one of the world's most exclusive golf clubs and a level of prestige that usurps a victory in any of the other major championships of world golf.

      The total purse here is $11 million, and usually more because Masters' officials keep that number, as well as the amount going to the winner, close to the vest.

      This year's tournament proves to be one of the most star-studded fields in recent memory, with Phil Mickelson and Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy coming into Augusta off PGA Tour wins and four-time champion Tiger Woods returning as the legend we once knew.

      Then there's the likes of Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day of Australia, determined Englishman Ian Poulter (who won last week in Houston to earn a spot in the field), two-time winner Bubba Watson, and even defending champion Sergio Garcia of Spain.

      Watson said one of the best things about this year's Masters is that so many golfers are in top form, an aspect that will make the tournament even more competitive.

      "That's what we want - we don't want an asterisk by it and say everybody played bad so you just won," said Watson, who was nearly flawless in his ball-striking in winning the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play two weeks ago. "We want everybody to play their best.

      "It's going to come down to how we prepare. You've got to be mentally prepared. The mental part of it is what drains you around this place. So you got to be focused on every shot and committed to what you see and what you want to do."

      The course is made for bombers like world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who missed the tournament last year after he hurt his back in a mishap at his rental house after one of his practice rounds, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who can drive the ball as well as anyone on the Tour.

      "Last year I was about as confident as I've ever been, so it was probably a 10. This year it's probably a nine and a half," Johnson said about his confidence heading into this week's event. "Yeah, it's good. Starting to swing it a lot better. I'm feeling a lot better on the golf course, for sure."

      The 2015 Masters champ, Spieth has twice tied for second and last year finished tied for 11th. He obviously has a game and a temperament that's perfect for the challenges of Augusta National and playing golf under the harshest of spotlights.

      "I'm so excited for this week," said Spieth, the reigning British Open champion. "Game feels good, and the golf course is looking to be already pretty firm and fast. We'll see how it holds with the weather that's coming in.

      "I think this course brings out the feel aspect of my game, which is the better side of me on the golf course. It's not a technical driving-range golf course - you have a lot of uneven lies and very slopey greens, and so you have to play a lot off of feel and what that lie gives you. It is my favorite tournament in the world."

      Twenty former champions are in the field, with Woods (who won in 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2005) as the only four-time winner playing this year.

      Nine of the 10 players who have won one of the other three majors in the past five years will also tee it up, including U.S. Open winners Johnson, Martin Kaymer of Germany and Justin Rose of England. Brooks Koepka, last year's U.S. Open winner, withdrew the week before the Masters because of a wrist injury.

      Other recent major winners in the field are British Open champions McIlroy and Henrik Stenson of Sweden, and PGA Championship winners Day, Thomas, Jason Dufner and Jimmy Walker.

      --Steve Habel, Field Level Media

  • Augusta National to host new amateur women's championship
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, April 4, 2018

    Augusta National announced it will host the final round of the new Augusta National Women's Amateur Championship starting in 2019.

    • Chairman Fred Ridley said Wednesday the tournament's first two rounds will be played at nearby Champions Retreat Golf Club, with the 30 players who make the cut battling it out on the famed Augusta National course in the final round on April 6.

      Former LPGA star Annika Sorenstam lauded the venue hosting the event.

      "As a little girl, knowing you have a chance to play on the greatest stage, it would've sent me to the range," Sorenstam said.

      Ridley said it's a move to help grow the game.

      "Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts left behind a legacy of always trying to contribute meaningfully to the game of golf," Ridley said, per Golfweek. "The Augusta National Women's Amateur Championship embodies that principle, and we believe this event will have a significant and lasting impact on the future of the women's game."

      The 54-hole stroke-play event will be televised.

      Invitations will be sent to winners of the U.S. Women's Amateur, Ladies' British Open Amateur, Women's Amateur Asia-Pacific, U.S. Girls' Junior, Girls' British Open Amateur, Girls Junior PGA Championship, according to Golfweek.

      Winners of the tournament will receive future invites for the next five years, with the remaining slots filled out by the top-ranked U.S. amateurs, the top amateurs in the World Golf Ranking and those chosen by the Augusta National Women's Amateur Championship Committee.

      --Field Level Media

  • Tiger, Phil forming unexpected bond at 'tail end'
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, April 3, 2018

    For the better part of two decades, it would have been nearly unfathomable to think of Phil Mickelson approaching Tiger Woods about playing a practice round at the local muni, much less at the Masters.

    • The two had a famously frosty relationship as Tiger was racking up 14 majors, many of them at the expense of Mickelson, the lovable second fiddle to Woods' historical dominance for many years.

      But there was Mickelson on Monday, asking Tiger's caddie Joe LaCava about Woods' interest in a practice round shortly after arriving at Augusta National. They agreed to pair up on Tuesday, playing a nine-hole game against 1992 Masters champion Fred Couples and Belgium's long-hitting Thomas Pieters.

      It speaks volumes about the mind set of the 47-year-old Mickelson and the 42-year-old Woods at this stage of their careers. Tiger has four green jackets, the most recent coming 13 years ago, sandwiched by the first two of Mickelson's three triumphs at Augusta. Woods is playing in his first Masters since 2015, and less than a year since undergoing fusion surgery on his back.

      "I think Phil and I, we've been through it for so long," Woods said at his Tuesday press conference when asked about his relationship with Mickelson. "We've been together on these (Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup) teams long enough, and then when I got hurt and had to take a different role on these teams... Phil was great, he tried to help me out when I was trying to make a comeback."

      Woods is in Augusta preparing for his first major tournament since the 2015 PGA Championship. Of the eight majors played since, four have been won by players in their 20s. Mickelson's most recent major win came at the 2013 British Open, which was his last victory anywhere until winning the WGC-Mexico Championship last month.

      "Our friendship has gotten stronger over the years," Woods said. "We've gone through it a long time, the better part of 20 years. Our friendship has certainly gotten a lot stronger.

      "I think part of it is age. We're at the tail end (of our careers), we understand that. We understand where we're at in the game now compared to when we were in our 20s. That was then, this is now."

      Although Woods has finished in the top five in each of his past three tournaments, he has only five total tournaments under his belt in this latest comeback. He has played exactly four weekend rounds in majors over the past four years and his last top 10 in a major came five years ago at the U.S. Open. So while the excitement around his return to August is understandable, Woods is tapping the breaks a bit on the expectations.

      "I have four rounds to play, so let's just kind of slow down," he said with a smile. "I've had anticipation like this prior (returning from injury). It's the same thing. I have to go play, and then let the chips fall where they may. I have a lot of work to do between now and (Sunday)."

      Mickelson explained Tuesday he was intent on playing with Woods before the first round begins Thursday.

      "It was good to be able to watch what he was doing and how he was hitting it," Mickelson said. "I wanted to see him play."

      It's abundantly clear that Woods is relishing his return to competitive form. He is flashing easy smiles all around Augusta National and interacting with the crowd and fellow players. ESPN golf writer Bob Harig said he could not remember Woods and Mickelson playing a practice round together since 1998, one Mickelson has brought up a few times in boasting that he won $500 from Tiger.

      "They're different people on the golf course (now)," Couples said after Tuesday's practice round. "If Tiger would have kept winning majors, maybe they might not have played today. But it's a little different scenario. I think there's fun times for them ahead. I think they had a good time today. They've never really disliked each other, and they probably aren't best of friends, but they're friends.

      "You take away Tiger Woods, and Phil probably has 10 or 12 majors, but you can't. Tiger's got all the majors - most of them, and now they're coming together just for a few years. They may be paired together on Sunday. They're playing extremely well, and they love the course and they're going to do very, very well."

      Woods and Mickelson are among the handful of pre-tournament betting favorites, along with a slew of 20-something players taking over the PGA Tour along with top-ranked Dustin Johnson and reigning Masters champion Sergio Garcia, both in their 30s.

      "I don't think there's one clear-cut favorite," Woods said. "I think that's what makes this year's Masters so exciting. There are so many guys playing well. From the guys in their 20s to Phil at 47. It's going to be fun. Not just from the spectators but for the players as well."

      --Derek Harper, Field Level Media

  • Tiger, Phil rout Couples, Pieters in practice round at Augusta
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, April 3, 2018

    A day after Fred Couples lauded Tiger Woods following a practice round at Augusta National, Woods and Phil Mickelson took it to Couples and Belgian Thomas Pieters in a nine-hole practice-round match Tuesday morning.

    • "Thomas and I, we got shillelaghed, yeah," Couples joked with reporters afterward. "We were 2-up after two and then it didn't go so well after that. They enjoyed beating us badly.

      "I feel bad for Thomas, because I couldn't help Jack Nicklaus in his prime today, so Thomas had a lot on his shoulders."

      According to Couples, Woods and Mickelson combined for three eagles, including two by Woods on the back-nine par-5s, No. 13 and No. 15.

      The Masters tees off Thursday, and Woods is playing his best golf in years. He has three top-12 finishes in 2018 and finished in the top 5 in each of his last two tournaments.

      On Tuesday, the big-name foursome drew plenty of cheers from a massive gallery, especially at the 18th, where the crowd was reportedly more than 15 rows deep at the green.

      "It was great," Couples, the 1992 Masters champion, said. "It's always great. When you get paired in this tournament and you're with Tiger, the energy is unreal. And when you get paired with Phil the energy is unreal.

      "And Thomas -- speaking of him because he's a great player -- he finished fourth last year and was in the last group. And he knows all about it too, so it was fun. I'd like to play every year with these guys, but Tiger and I have become good friends and we like to play here. It was very loud, very fun and they hit some really good shots, wow."

      Couples told reporters on Monday that Woods' game looked the same as it did 10 years ago after the pair played a practice round with current world No. 2 Justin Thomas. He was effusive with praise for Woods again after Tuesday's round.

      "He's driving it really, really well, and he feels really good," Couples said. "Tiger is Tiger, and he's hitting it a long way and he's hitting it really, really flush. It's pretty good."

      The 42-year-old Woods is back on the PGA Tour after undergoing back surgery for the fourth time in April 2017. This will be his first time playing the Masters since 2015, when he finished tied for 17th. He hasn't played in any majors since missing the cut at the 2015 PGA Championship.

      Couples, 58, has dealt with back issues for 25 years but has never opted to have surgery. He was asked Tuesday if he thinks Woods came back too soon from previous surgeries.

      "You know, when you're in your late 30s and you've won 100 tournaments and 14 majors, you don't want to sit around," Couples said, adding that he hasn't discussed back injuries in-depth with Woods. "So I think he would have done what any other top players have done their whole lives ... come back and try to play. And it didn't work out. But now it seems like, from what any of us see ... the sound of the ball is unreal."

      "He's enjoying it. He's playing great, why wouldn't he enjoy it? He's part [of the atmosphere]. He's a funny guy, and he's enjoying it."

      Woods isn't the only accomplished veteran whom Couples expects to contend this week. He also praised the 47-year-old Mickelson's game.

      Could Woods and Mickelson, whom Couples says "probably aren't best of friends, but they're friends," perhaps both threaten the top of the leaderboard by week's end?

      "They may be paired together on Sunday," Couples said. "They're playing extremely well, and they love the course and they're going to do very, very well."

      Woods is scheduled to tee off in Round 1 at 10:42 a.m. ET on Thursday with Australian Marc Leishman and Englishman Tommy Fleetwood.

      Couples will go off at 12:10 p.m. with China's Haotong Li and Chilean Joaquin Niemann, with Mickelson joining Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar at 1:27 p.m.

      --Field Level Media

  • Couples raves about Tiger after Augusta practice round
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, April 3, 2018

    Fred Couples played a nine-hole practice round with Tiger Woods at Augusta National on Monday and came away impressed.

    • The pair, who were joined by Justin Thomas, were followed by an eager gallery through the front nine as Woods put on an impressive display.

      "He hit a few drives that were well worth watching, whether you paid for it or are in the tournament like me," said Couples, per ESPN.

      "He's doing well," Couples continued. "If you watched him play today, there's not much of a back problem. He's hitting it a long way, and it looks beautiful. Today wasn't any different than it was 10 years ago when we played. It was pretty awesome."

      The 42-year-old Woods is back on the PGA Tour after undergoing back surgery for the fourth time in April 2017. This is his first time playing the Masters since 2015, when he finished tied for 17th.

      He hasn't played in any majors since missing the cut at the 2015 PGA Championship.

      Woods is a 14-time major winner, including four Masters wins, with his most recent major victory coming at Torrey Pines in 2008 when he outlasted Rocco Mediate in the famous 91-hole U.S. Open showdown.

      As for his chances this year, he certainly is coming in playing his best golf in years. He finished tied for second at the Valspar Championship and tied for fifth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in his last two events.

      Couples, who won his only major at the Masters in 1992, gets to watch Woods in action again Tuesday as the pair will join Phil Mickelson and Thomas Pieters for another practice round.

      --Field Level Media

  • Woods camp dismisses accuracy of new Tiger biography
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, March 29, 2018

    Tiger Woods' camp is dismissing a new biography about the golf great as an at-times inaccurate regurgitation of previously written material.

    • With The Masters on the horizon April 5-8, Simon & Schuster has released "Tiger Woods" by authors by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian. The book details Woods' rise to PGA Tour dominance but opens with the account of Woods being injured outside his home in November 2009 after crashing his SUV, triggering months of scandalous headlines and his subsequent fall from grace.

      "This book is just a re-hash from older books and articles and it's hard to tell if there's anything original at all," said Woods' manager, Mark Steinberg, according to the Golf Channel. "The authors claim, 'We seldom quoted anonymous sources,' yet they relied on them at least 65 times."

      The authors cite numerous sources, but Steinberg said that Woods was not given the opportunity to comment or fact check the book. The manager said there were "egregious errors" and mischaracterizations of events.

      "It's clear the sources they actually rely on are people that haven't spoken or interacted with Tiger for many years, most with ulterior motives," Steinberg said.

      The authors released a statement defending the content of the book.

      "Our book, 'Tiger Woods,' is based on three years of research and reporting, during which we conducted 400 interviews with more than 250 people, many of whom had never talked about their relationship with Tiger before," Benedict and Keteyian wrote. "Let us be clear: We stand by the accuracy of our reporting."

      -- Field Level Media

  • Ryder Cup returning to Hazeltine; Watson surges in rankings
    By Field Level Media / Monday, March 26, 2018

    The Ryder Cup will return to Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn. in 2028, the PGA of America announced Monday.

    • Meanwhile, Bubba Watson surged from 11th to third in the U.S. Ryder Cup Team points standings following his victory at the WGC-Dell Technologies match play event, his second victory of the year and 11th of his PGA Tour career. He trails only Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson.

      The top eight players in the standings receive automatic spots on the U.S. team, with captain Jim Furyk selecting the final four spots. Watson is followed by Brooks Koepka, whose wrist injury will continue to sideline him through next month's Masters, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Matt Kuchar and Brian Harman.

      Patrick Reed fell out of the top eight with his elimination in the quarterfinals on Saturday, followed by Gary Woodland and Rickie Fowler. Kevin Kisner, who lost to Watson in Sunday's final, moved up 21 spots to No. 12.

      Earning a spot on the Ryder Cup team has been a stated goal for Watson, who was left off the '16 team that brought the Ryder Cup back to the U.S. at Hazeltine. He was ranked ahead of multiple players who were chosen over him, but Watson admittedly wasn't in strong playing form at the time.

      Hazeltine will become the first American venue to play host to multiple Ryder Cups when the 48th edition of the event returns in 10 years. Four English courses have played host to multiple Ryder Cups: The Belfry (1985, '89, '93, 2002); Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club (1961, '77); Royal Birkdale Golf Club (1965, '69) and Southport and Ainsdale Golf Club (1933, '37).

      Designed by Robert Trent Jones in 1962 and enhanced by his son, Rees Jones, in 2002 and 2005, Hazeltine is also scheduled to play host to its third women's major championship, the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, in June 2019.

      The 42nd Ryder Cup will be held at Le Golf National in Paris this September. Future venues include Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisc. in 2020, the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Italy in '22 and Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, N.Y. in '24. Europe has yet to announce the home courses for the 2026 and '30 Ryder Cups. After returning to Hazeltine in '28, the next U.S. course will be The Olympic Club in San Francisco in 2032.

      --Field Level Media