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“The birds sing at Augusta just like back home. The flowers here are so beautiful and make me feel so comfortable.” How sad that Seve is no longer with us. Selah!

Wednesday is always a fun day for players to play the par 3 tournament, which was the brainchild of the former Chairman, Clifford Roberts. Roberts contracted with George Cobb, a University of Georgia graduate, to design the pitch and putt layout.

Interestingly, no winner of the par 3 course has ever won the Masters tournament. Nicklaus, the sixtime winner of the Masters never played the par 3 tournament when he was active on the tour. He never admitted to being superstitious, but the fact is, he never played the abbreviated layout until he became eligible for the senior tour.

Ray Floyd in 1990 appeared to be the most likely par 3 champion to win the Masters title, but he bogeyed the 17th hole in Sunday’s final round, which brought about a playoff between Floyd and Nick

Faldo. Those who had followed Floyd on the tour considered him to be one of the toughest competitors ever to play the game. When he pulled a seven iron into the pond at No. 11, the second playoff hole to lose, it shocked everybody. You can expect the unexpected at the Masters.

When the first round of the 86th Masters begins on Thursday, it is easy to discern that the players are getting stronger off the tee and are making lower and lower scores. As the drivers are blasting prodigious distances and awing the spectators, the purses are getting bigger and bigger with first place prize money in the majors escalating to unbelievable heights. Hideki Matsuyama took home a check for $2 million and 70 thousand dollars last year. This means that he hosts the champions dinner on the eve of the Masters. Not sure what he will serve for dinner, but if the menu includes noodles and rice and a cup of soup which is typical for Japanese dinners, then the past champions probably will not turn up their nose. If he trends exotic, I am sure there will be some skeptical dinner partners since you can order raw roe in Japan, also raw chicken and raw horse meat. Perhaps, he will include Fuji apples on the menu. Japanese fruit is very good. And what about sake? Am sure that will be available.

When Scotland born Sandy Lyle hosted the dinner, heservedhaggis. My guess is that there was plenty haggis left over, and I doubt that anybody asked for a takeout container.

The weekend at the Masters has an uplifting atmosphere, especially when theweatherisgood. When it comes to the environment, the only sporting event to rival the Masters is the Kentucky Derby. Sunday’s final round at Augusta is often something to behold. It has become a Masters tradition for a close and thrilling finish. Ken Venturi, who came close on two occasions to win the Masters, once poignantly said, “The Masters begins on the back nine on Sunday.” Most years that is the way it is.

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