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April 04, 2012

Truth & Rumors: Gary Player rails against 'nose putters'

Posted at 10:57 AM by Mike Walker | Categories: Gary Player, Luke Donald, Masters, Tiger Woods

Gary Player has been a longtime supporter of what golf-industry dweebs call "bifurcation" -- that is, one set of more restrictive equipment rules for pros to limit distance and another, less stringent set of rules so amateurs can bomb away -- and he made that case eloquently on Tuesday at the Masters.

Two balls? Definitely. Look, I mentioned this, and the R&A, which I'm a very big fan of, said that you they are the same game. They are not the same game. If you think they are the same game, bring an amateur to come and play against Tiger Woods, and you'll sure as hell see they are not the same game. You are oblivious to the fact that it's not the same game. It ain't the same game.

However, the fun part starts when Player talks about his distaste for long putters.

I'm just shocked when I see all these young people on the Tour, too. I see them playing with a putter up here and a putter here. I was playing with a guy the other day with a putter in his nose. This is a Pro Am and I said, "What the hell are you doing?" He said, well, he had a piece of wool and a peg in there and he had this in his nose like that (indicating with finger pushed up into nose). And then you see a Scottish pro putting with it on his chin and everybody has got it anchored to them. I mean, nerves are part of the game. That's what we try to combat. That's the whole idea of golf. The man who is the winner can control his nerves the best.

Tiger's half-brother with MS hasn't heard from Tiger since father's death
ESPN's Rick Reilly files a report on Kevin Woods, Tiger Woods' half-brother who is suffering from multiple sclerosis.

Earl Jr., Kevin and sister Royce are the children of Earl Woods and Barbara Gary, of Kansas. They're 20, 18 and 17 years older than Tiger, who is the offspring of Earl's second marriage, to Kultida Punsawad. Though they lived in different houses, the four kids visited often and say they remained close until Tiger turned "about 15 or 16," Earl Jr. says. "But the more universal Tiger got, the less we heard from him."

Royce, who also lives in San Jose, stayed close with Tiger during his two years in college, fixing him meals and doing his laundry. In thanks, Tiger bought her a house. But since the funeral, none of them have been able to contact him.

"I would live in a shack," Royce told author Tom Callahan for his 2010 book "His Father's Son," "literally a shack, if I could have my relationship with my brother back."

Earl Jr. sounds especially hurt that Tiger hasn't spoken to Kevin, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2009, according to ESPN.

"I'd like to [slap] Tiger, wake him up," he says. "I'd like to say, 'Don't come knocking on the door when you need a bone-marrow transplant.' To see this is the response we get? Maybe when you see the world like he does, you don't see what other people are going through. But, seriously? You've got problems with your knee? That's nothing compared to what Kevin is going through. Nothing."

I can't help wondering what things would be like if their dad were still alive.

"A lot different," insists Earl Jr., who looks a lot like his father. "My dad was a bonding agent. He encouraged us to keep in touch, protect each other, circle the wagons."

Masters four-day badge sells for more than $2,000 on StubHub
The Masters is always the toughest ticket in sports, but the anticipation around this year's tournament has set sales records at online ticket broker Stubhub.com, according to WRDW-TV Augusta.

Employees from the company are still working with people looking for a way into the tournament, said Joellen Ferrer of StubHub.

"The demand is like nothing we have ever seen in our 10 year history," she said.

Ferrer said the sales have set records as well, but she said Tiger Woods isn't the sole reason ticket and badge sales have hit such high marks.

"It's already our highest grossing Masters event in company history," she said. "But even without Tiger it would've been our highest grossing Masters event. It just wouldn't have had so many ebbs and flows."

One of the highest days of sales though came on March 16, the day Woods announced he would be playing in Augusta.

But with the tournament starting soon and the supply low, the prices are higher right now than in years past, Ferrer said.

On Wednesday morning, a four-day badge to the Masters Tournament cost $2,392 on StubHub, while a ticket to Sunday's final round was $740.

Luke Donald might chip with his driver at Augusta National
Don't try this at home.

Luke Donald got to the No. 1 spot with his otherworldly short game, and he might have figured out a new trick for Augusta National's notoriously difficult shots from just off the green.

Q. Do you have any particular strategies this year that is new in general about the round or on a particular hole that you could share with us?

LUKE DONALD: The only real difference I've been experimenting a little bit is off the greens, off the edge of the greens. It can be a little bit tricky around here. In the morning it's dewy. The ball tends to skip through and it's a little bit easier. When it gets drier, the grass becomes very sticky around the greens. I've experimented a little bit with actually using a driver around the greens. A lot of people use rescues, 3 woods sometimes, putters. But I just found the driver had the perfect loft, that it was able to go through the grass a little bit. Whether I'll use it this year or not, I'm not sure, but certainly something I've been playing around with.

Q. You just choke up on that?

LUKE DONALD: Choke up on it, use it like a putter, yeah.

Q. Eight degrees? Nine degrees?

LUKE DONALD: It's nine degrees.

Q. Putting grip?

LUKE DONALD: Yeah.

Golf participation is on the rise. Really.
Not only is Tiger back, but so are you.

Rounds played at American golf course have climbed for four straight months, the first growth in five years, according to Bloomberg News.

The number of rounds played on American golf courses has climbed for four straight months through February. Club maker Callaway Golf Co. (ELY), mower-maker Toro Co. (TTC) and Nike Inc. (NKE), which makes golf gear and clothes, are registering revenue growth and stock gains outpacing the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

The rebound is reflected on the links. Americans are feeling secure enough in their jobs to increase leisure spending, returning to a sport basking in the media spotlight with this week’s Masters Tournament and Tiger Woods’s first PGA victory in more than two years.

“It will probably be the strongest year since the recession,” Cindy Davis, president of the golf unit of Beaverton, Oregon-based Nike, said in an interview. “I’d say it’s definitely one of the indicators that maybe consumer confidence is coming back.”

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