TV Viewer Fails to Put The Bag on Mickelson
AUGUSTA, Ga., April 7 — Phil Mickelson was allowed to play the third round Saturday after the tournament’s rules committee decided he had done no wrong at the 18th tee Friday when the shadow from his upright golf bag apparently shielded his ball from the glare of the sun.
An unidentified television viewer called Augusta National after Friday’s telecast to say that Mickelson, the defending champion, had possibly violated Rule 14-2, which states that a player cannot “accept physical assistance or protection from the elements.”
The complaint eventually reached Fred Ridley, the chairman of the tournament’s competition committee and a former U.S. Golf Association president. According to Augusta National spokesman Glenn Greenspan, Ridley reviewed the television tape with rules officials on Friday night. When Mickelson and his caddie, Jim Mackay, arrived at the course Saturday morning, they met with Ridley and the committee to discuss what had transpired.
“After speaking with Phil and his caddie, they determined there was no rules violation,” Greenspan said. “Apparently there was no intent, and therefore no violation.”
If the committee had decided there was intent to use the bag to his competitive advantage, Mickelson could have been disqualified.
‘Walrus’ Finally Bogs Down
Craig Stadler finished up his final round this past Sunday at the Ginn Championship on the Champions Tour with two double bogeys and a bogey on his last five holes and came to Augusta on the 25th anniversary of his 1982 Masters victory with predictably low expectations for the week.
Instead, his putting stroke came alive in the first two rounds, and he found himself tied for 15th place entering the weekend, matching the same 3-over-par 147 score posted by Tiger Woods over the first 36 holes. Now 53, “The Walrus” was the only player over 50 in the top 20 entering the weekend.
“You make a good couple of wedges in there and hit a couple of putts and it makes all the difference in the world,” Stadler said. “You can fool a lot of people into thinking you’re playing good with a putter that’s nice to you.”
Stadler had little such luck in the third round Saturday, making a triple bogey at the 155-yard 12th hole en route to a 78.
Couples Has Gloomy Outlook
Fred Couples had only played two rounds of tournament golf this year before he arrived here for his 23rd Masters and wasn’t even sure his chronically balky back would allow him to get through the practice rounds. But he was still swinging the club Saturday, having made the cut for a Masters record-tying 23rd straight time, joining Gary Player in the record book. He shot 78 in the third round and was at 14 over for the tournament.
“Standing here, I feel horrible,” Couples said Friday after his second straight 76 made the cut on the number. “It’s been a long time. It’s kind of driving me nuts. Something has to happen so I feel much better.”
Couples, 47, said he could foresee not playing again on the PGA Tour this year and possibly not coming back here next year if his back problems continue. The Masters “might be the only one I play in” the rest of the 2007 season.
“If I come back next year and don’t feel good, then there’s nothing much I can do about it,” he said. “If I play mediocre, I don’t know why I would do that. Why would you? I’d go surfing.”