Keeping Score

From the Morning Read inbox

Another ‘Masters miss’ for the record books
I enjoyed John Hawkins’ article about the players who came painfully close to winning the Masters (“Masters misses that still make us wince,” March 29).

Another player to remember is Ed Sneed. He had one of the most beautiful golf swings in the history of the game. As far as beauty, gracefulness, and fluidity, Sneed’s swing was right up there with Bobby Jones’ and Sam Snead’s. It was that good. Sneed was a heck of a player, winning four times on the PGA Tour and being a Ryder Cupper (’77).

Sneed and Tom Watson lost to Fuzzy Zoeller in the 1979 Masters. Sneed had an unfortunate finish, bogeying his last three holes. His 5-foot par putt on the 72nd hole hung on the hole’s lip. The picture of Sneed peering down at the ball, with putter in hand, waiting to see if his ball would drop into the cup, ran in newspapers and periodicals throughout the country the following week.

Fast forward 15 years or so, while I was a teaching professional for Jim McLean at the Doral Resort & Spa, Sneed, getting prepped for the Senior Tour and stopped in to take a lesson from McLean. During the lesson, they watched footage of Ed’s play during the ’79 Masters. I was in the room watching the lesson and heard Ed tell Jim a fascinating fact about one of his finishing bogeys.

On the par-3 16th hole, with the pin in its usual back-left Sunday position, Sneed said he hit a solid mid-iron that was flighted toward the middle of the green. A ball landing in the middle of that green is virtually assured of catching the green’s middle ridge and funneling toward a back-left pin placement. But on that Sunday, Sneed’s ball stopped on top of that ridge, leaving him a long, downhill, lightning-fast putt, which he three-putted.

Sneed mentioned that when he walked onto the green and marked and lifted his ball, that his ball had settled into an old, un-repaired ballmark. Without this bad break, his ball surely would have released off the ridge toward the hole, leaving him a makeable birdie putt and ensuring a par, at worst.

Bad breaks are part of the game. Unfortunately, Ed Sneed got one late in the game on Sunday at Augusta.

Anyway, along with Norman (’96), Hoch (’89) and Venturi (’56), Sneed’s last round would rank as one of the most painful Masters losses.

Christopher Toulson
Chappaqua, N.Y.
(Toulson is a PGA of America member and the head golf professional at Sunningdale Country Club in Scarsdale, N.Y.)

What might have been at Augusta National
A few further thoughts on John Hawkins’ Masters misses (“Masters misses that still make us wince,” March 29).

In 2005, in addition to everything else that happened, Chris DiMarco lipped out a chip on 18 in regulation that would have given him the jacket had it gone in, with no need for a playoff.

Len Mattiace had one year that he was one of the best players in the world, winning twice in 2002, setting up his Masters performance in 2003. He was one of an elite group of golfers that year with multiple victories, a list that includes Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh. I played with Mattiace in the 2002 Heritage pro-am on Hilton Head, and I could not have picked a nicer guy to play with that week. Still a big fan.

Scott Hoch’s shortie miss was on the 10th hole, but he didn’t lose until Faldo dropped a bomb for birdie on No. 11.

Just think: Of Faldo’s three Masters victories, two were gifted to him (by Hoch and Greg Norman), and the other was a playoff victory over Raymond Floyd. Faldo is this close to having zero green jackets, but as fate would have it, he’s got three.

I can’t wait for April 11.

Gregg Cook
Mechanicsburg, Pa.

Better than 10 ANA Inspirations?
Reader David Williams criticizes Augusta National Golf Club for allowing the best female amateurs to play the course only in the final round of the new Augusta National Women’s Amateur (“From the Morning Read inbox,” March 28). He also blasts club leaders for playing the same weekend as the LPGA’s ANA Inspiration, claiming it forces the best amateurs in the world to make a tough decision.

I predict this tournament will be enhanced in the future to become the premier women’s amateur event in golf and will do more to promote the game than 10 ANA Inspirations could ever do. The fact that only the top 30 qualify from the first two rounds to get to Augusta National makes this tournament that much more challenging and special for those involved. I doubt that it was a hard decision at all for these women to choose a chance to play at the premier golf venue in the world.

The ANA Inspiration? Get a clue!

Frank Blauch
Lebanon, Pa.

Mid-amateurs deserve spots in Augusta women’s event
Thank you, Martin Kaufmann, for your honest assessment of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and shedding light on some of the issues not discussed in the media promotions (“Augusta event won’t do much for women,” March 27).

One positive outcome so far has been an increased conversation around women’s golf, which for the most part has been a perplexing constituency for most major governing golf bodies to figure out. Ask any woman playing the game for the past 20 years and we can give you simple solutions to making the game more welcoming and inclusive, but that’s not the purpose of this letter.

Augusta National indicated the ANWA was “established to inspire greater interest and participation in the women’s game by creating a new, exciting and rewarding pathway for these players to fulfill their dreams.” I applaud this intention. One glaring issue that has failed to make the headlines is the exclusion of the top mid-amateur female golfers.

The celebration and inclusion of the current U.S. Mid-Amateur champion at the Masters has left many of the women’s mid-amateur ranks perplexed at this oversight for the ANWA (assuming it was an oversight and not intentional).

Last year, Matt Parziale, a firefighter from Brockton, Mass., made headlines. It is disappointing and unfortunate that players such as Shannon Johnson, the current U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, and Lauren Greenlief, the 2015 Mid-Am winner who reached the quarterfinals of the 2018 U.S. Women’s Amateur, will not have the chance to compete. These women play for the love the game while balancing careers and family, just like Parziale.

The good news is the inaugural ANWA will put the top female amateurs on a larger media stage than ever before, and that is a great step in the right direction. One could argue that only a handful of the young women competing at the ANWA will make it on the LPGA tour and the rest will most likely give up competitive golf. Why not give a couple of spots to the highest-ranked female mid-amateurs and inspire more women to fulfill their dreams?

Susan Curtin
Westwood, Mass.

Another vote for mid-amateurs at Augusta
Martin Kaufmann raised some very interesting points about the Augusta National Women’s Amateur that are worthy of consideration (“Augusta event won’t do much for women,” March 27).

Another issue of concern is the list of contestants excluded: the top-ranked women’s mid-amateurs. Because mid-amateurs don’t have and therefore can’t play in as many competitions as college players, they are not able to earn as many points to qualify for the event.

I hope that Augusta National will, in the future, award some exemptions to some of the top women’s amateurs 25 and older who deserve to compete in this event.

Lloyd Meisels
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Regardless of conflict, women now have a choice
There’s been a lot of discussion about the Augusta National Women’s Amateur since it was announced (“From the Morning Read inbox,” March 28).

Comments abound about the conflict with the ANA Inspiration and the one round at Augusta National. Interestingly, how often do the participants actually have a choice of events to play?

Regardless of Augusta National Golf Club’s motivation, another golf event at this level for women is a good thing.

Debbie Waitkus

Keep the hangers-on off developmental tours
I have to disagree with Dave Seanor's take on eligibility to play on the Tour (“Secret to golf’s minors: Just play better,” March 29).

When the PGA Tour moguls call it a “developmental tour,” I take them at their word. How many years and tournaments must one play to achieve "development"?

Every player in every sport, male and female, has a ceiling on his or her abilities. Some reach it in Little League, and others play 15 years for the Yankees. Golf is no different.

I propose a limit on the number of starts available to players on the Tour. Proper research would provide an equitable number, and the older guys can start their own tour if they want to keep playing.

Imagine that: a developmental tour to gain status for the Old Guys Retirement Income Tour. It makes me shed a tear.

Jim Kavanagh
St. Augustine, Fla.

The end of golf? You might bet on it
I could not disagree more with Alex Miceli about gambling and golf (“Tour’s outdated drug policy nabs Garrigus,” March 25).

If golf needs a sports book to gain and maintain interest in a sport that was founded in Scotland with no win, place or show, then we may be seeing the end of the sport.

As a PGA professional, I teach new and existing golfers, and advocate for my association every day. Nowhere do I talk about a PGA Tour professional’s odds at winning next week’s golf tournament as a way to get people interested.

I hope that golf, a sport that can be played for life, has the necessary cachet without Las Vegas appeal.

Mark Anderson
Alexandria, Va.
(Anderson is a PGA of America member.)

‘The Hole Truth’ can hurt
It seems to me that a prerequisite for working in media now is to take a side and then cheerlead. We see it in political reporting and now in golf. It’s not new; however, it’s never been so obvious.

On Sunday morning, while watching “Morning Drive” on Golf Channel, I thought Gary Williams was going to cry when author Bill Felber, in his book “The Hole Truth: Determining the Greatest Players in Golf Using Sabermetrics,” had Tiger Woods rated fourth-best of all time. This was a scientific method, using Sabremetrics to measure the performance of players. Williams, while being gracious and pleasant with Felber on the air, was a little (no, a lot) like a whining Justin Thomas about a rules violation.

Williams and writer/reporter Jaime Diaz spoke of the “span of career” used in calculating the score used. They argued that if the span were reduced to seven years, which would cover Woods’ best years, that Woods would be higher on the list. Yes, that’s true. But if the span were reduced to two weeks in 2017, Dustin Johnson would be higher, too.

Reporters need to report, not pontificate. Golf Channel is notorious for spending more time showing highlights of Woods’ shots (even though he might be T-15) than the leaders’ shots. The entire golf-reporting world is a Tiger Woods cheering section. Reporters who are speaking of Woods seem like the rabid fans at tournaments who act like the fans of The Beatles when they arrived in New York in 1964.

Felber’s book measured statistics in numerous categories. This isn’t a fan poll. If it were, I’m sure that Williams would find Woods in about the same position, as there are no doubt just as many Woods “haters” as there are fans. But how scientific would that be?

Steve Hoffman
Hickory Hills, Ill.

Fleck over Hogan, it wasn’t
Jimmy Roberts on Golf Channel’s Sunday coverage of the Dell Match Play compared Tiger Woods’ loss to Lucas Bjerregaard to Jack Fleck beating Ben Hogan in the 1955 U.S. Open.

C’mon, man!

Harry McKee
Granbury, Texas

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