Who had the longest drive?

Contributing Columnist

A reader asked me who had the longest drive of the three old-timers, Palmer, Nicklaus and Player, who appeared at the start of the Masters. Gary Player, 76, used a Callaway Razr Fit driver and he easily outhit 82-year-old Arnold Palmer and 72-year-old Jack Nicklaus. All three hit their drives on the first hole into a steep hill with no roll. The yardage for each was: Player 236, Nicklaus 218, and Palmer 185. When you reach those ages, be satisfied to do as well as they did.

Callaway announced April 4 the sale of its Top-Flite brand to Dick’s Sporting Goods. The decision brings full-circle Callaway’s nearly 10-year ownership of Top-Flite, which, in its heyday, was one of the biggest brands in the golf ball category. In 2003, Callaway acquired Top-Flite in a bankruptcy auction.

I’m going to continue this article with a few observations on this year’s Masters…

There were heavy rains in the days leading to this year’s Masters. As a result the first couple of days led to balls covered with mud in many areas of the course. Said Scott Verplank, “Mud shots go everywhere, you have very little control.”

Masters rookie Kevin Chappell, who tied for 44th, said of the mud balls, “but I think they affect your mind more than anything.” Stewart Cink, in his response to balls covered with mud, said, “It just takes a lot of guts. You know what’s waiting if the ball doesn’t take the mud effect. It’s an inexact science. You just hope it works.”

At the Masters, balls burrow into the grass instead of bouncing off of it. Brandt Snedeker opined, “I don’t care how dry it is, you’re always going to get a couple, just because of the way the fairways are mown into you.” It rarely has any effect on the eventual winner.

The TV audience had the misfortune to watch Tiger Woods kick his club during Friday’s round after his tee shot went awry on the par-3 16th at the Masters. Woods was struggling on the back nine that day and his struggles spilled over on the 16th tee. He hit his tee shot into the right bunker, dropped his club and kicked it. Woods admitted frustration at that point and later apologized if he offended anybody. He said later that it hurt his toe as well. Moments of frustration on the golf course can make players do odd things.

Four players had to quit the Masters; two never started and two dropped out after playing a few holes. Dustin Johnson and Mark O’Meara were unable to start. Johnson has knee surgery in December and O’Meara had a rib injury. Justin Day had an injured ankle, and Gary Woodland dropped out after the third round with a wrist injury. Who said golf is easy on the body?

Augusta National used the 10-shot rule; any player within 10 shots of the lead makes the 36-hole cut. That helped produce one of the largest weekend fields in recent memory. Sixty-three players, 60 pros and three amateurs of the 95 players in the field made the cut, the second most since 1966, the year the 10-shot rule went into effect. Sixty-four played the weekend that year.

The Masters cut falls at the top 45 and ties and any players within 10 shots of the lead, whichever allows more players to advance. This year, Lee Westwood’s double bogey on his final hole of the second round which dropped him from six under to four under allowed another seven players to play on the weekend. Among the seven were amateurs Kelly Kraft and Patrick Cantlay who were both five over for the first two rounds.


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