Augusta Diary


Compiled by Philip Reid

Maybe time for a scuba driver

PÁDRAIG Harrington hit so many balls into the water in last week’s Houston Open that some observers felt investing in shares in the ball-retrieving company that employs scuba divers would kick-start the American economy.

The fallout of Harrington’s waywardness – with an estimated eight visits to water hazards, no fewer than seven of them off the tee – was that the man chasing a third straight major title spent much of the past two days tinkering with drivers in attempting to work out which one to use come tomorrow’s first round of the Masters.

At one stage, he had five different drivers on the range . . . but the Dubliner has decided to revert to an old one for his continued quest for major glory, going back to a 9.5 degree lofted driver with a slightly longer shaft he used in the 2007 Masters when he finished tied-seventh. “I actually don’t think I ever had as good a driving tournament as I did two years ago, so hopefully I can replicate that,” said Harrington, who explained that the reason he needed to change drivers was because he had been “tinkering” with his swing and needed extra loft.

For the record, he used an eight-degree driver on each occasion he won a major, in the 2007 and 2008 British Opens and the 2008 US PGA.

Immelman keeps dinner simple

ANYONE expecting antelope or wild game at last night’s champions dinner hosted by Trevor Immelman was disappointed, as the South African decided the adventurous route was not the way to go. “I wanted to have a South African flair, but I also wanted to keep it simple so that past champions would want to try it and eat it and enjoy it,” he said.

The previous year’s champion gets to select the menu for the champions dinner, traditionally held the Tuesday before the Masters. Immelman chose a starter of spinach salad, with a choice of two main courses: one a dish called Babotie, which comprised mince meat in curry spices coated in egg and served with rice; the other a dish called Chicken Sosaties, which were basically chicken and vegetables skewers. Immelman selected a traditional Afrikaans dessert called Melktert, very similar to pumpkin pie except that the main ingredient is milk.

Time up for practice range

TIME has caught up on the practice range where players traditionally hone their long games. From next year, a new range – being built on the main car-parking lot - will replace the practice ground that is being used for the last time this year. The current range has a length of just 265 yards and even the net – which stands 105 feet tall – has on occasions proved incapable of preventing golf balls from flying over the boundary fences on to Washington Road, the principal highway in Augusta.

Looking for retirement key

DON’T go looking for the job of carrying Tiger’s bag just yet anyone. Steve Williams, who currently has the best gig in golf, has joked with Woods that he will give up the job as soon as the world’s number one breaks Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 major wins. Tiger’s reaction? “My favourite number is 21, so we’d better get to 21 soon, then you can retire.”

Green jacket and trophy stay put

WE all know that the winner of the Masters is fitted out with a green jacket, that can only be worn inside the grounds of Augusta National and which has to be left in the clubhouse through the year. However, the champion receives a gold medal and a sterling replica of the Masters Trophy. The real trophy remains permanently at the club.