Tuesday I had the opportunity to go to a practice round of the Masters. It was my first trip to Augusta, and, despite a painful sunburn suffered from an Easter Sunday from too much time by the pool, my friend and I walked the course with Tiger Woods' group (which consisted of him and good friend, Mark O'Meara).
I'd like to say that I wasn't going to be the guy chasing Tiger around the course, but as soon as you see him, that's the only thing on your mind. He's a magnetic athlete in that way. Anyway, here are some photos from the day:
Because it is. And thus begins my day-long efforts to get a good close-up picture of the most famous golfer in the world. More on that throughout the post.
Proud Canadian and former Masters winner Mike Weir.
As soon as I made the vow to get a good shot of Tiger, I completely missed him walk right in front of me because I was looking at the program. The lesson? I am a horrible photographer.
Woods and O'Meara walk down the first fairway. The two are close friends. Given the hoopla surrounding his return after a, shall we say, hectic offseason*, it makes sense that he would pair up with O'Meara.
* On that note, the crowd reaction to Tiger couldn't have been more positive. I didn't hear a single negative remark, besides me and my buddy cracking the occasional joke to ourselves. (I'm sure others were doing it too.) But he could not have picked a better venue to come back to than Augusta. They threaten to kick you out if you run between holes. I think they'll lock down on anyone trying to be a consistent heckler throughout the day.
Just off the second green, O' Meara passes by, meaning Tiger is right behind, and I'm poised to get my close-up ...
Tiger teeing off on No. 3. In addition to our practice round passes, we got two complimentary tickets to the gun show.
Phil Mickelson tees off on the fifth hole. It's funny, this hole is adjacent to the fourth green, so security is insistent for fans to stay seated until the group has finished putting on four and has teed off on five. Some guy tried to get up when Tiger's group moving from green to tee and he got shamed by a security guard into going back to his seat. Some people did the same thing when Phil and his group were making the same transition and nobody cared. Like I said, Augusta can put the clamp down when it comes to fans distracting Tiger.
A picture of this blogger in front of the 16th green. When we came back to this hole a little later, players would hit their regular shot, then, after some prodding from the crowd, they'd take a tee shot where they tried to skip the ball across the water. A few got it on the green. I think Mickelson hit his so hard it skipped through the water, over the green and into the seats behind the green. Anybody who would try that in tournament play would earn my immediate respect.
A sparsely attended 18th green. Kind of a weird set up for an 18th hole. There are no grand stands, just a slight elevation around the green that kind of lets people see over other peoples' heads, but not really. For the climactic hole of the course, you'd think they would have a better viewing option.
Yes it is, along with his son, and current player for Tennessee, Steven Pearl, who it would appear saw me taking the picture of them.
Amen Corner. I believe that's Hogan's Bridge on the left, leading to the green of the par-3 12th. Huge crowd here. There's an enormous grand stand and the holes usually decide the tournament, so it makes sense. If I was camping out for a day, it would either be here or the aforementioned 16th.
The par-5 15th hole. It's had to see this one, but you have to carry a small pond to get to the green in two. Saw a couple shots get hung up on the bank. Apparently, Augusta has put some rough to slow things down before the ball trickles into the water. I guess that's the club throwing the players a bone.
A shot of the narrow tee shot to No. 18. I could hit 10 tee shots on this hole and nine of them would graze some type of shrubbery before coming down in a less-than-optimal position. Also, the tee box is maybe 20 yards wide and goes back a long ways. The pros have no problem hitting the ball without hurting someone. I can't imagine the same is true for me.
Jim Nantz (spelled correctly this time) signs autographs and takes pictures with fans. His voice doesn't change from when he's broadcasting the event.
The Wall of Fame. Here's a picture of all the former winners. Eldrick is in the lower left-hand corner, second from the end.
A sample green jacket. I'm not sure of my size, but I'll be sure to send that info along.
And lastly, a photo from the most famous picture spot of the course. Unfortunately, that means a long line and the Masters folks taking your picture with their equipment. I circumvented the problem (or as some would say, circrumvrented) by getting this picture taken from the side. It's close to the same effect, I would say, and much more time efficient.