AUGUSTA, Ga. - A tree doesn't grow at Augusta anymore. Make that on Magnolia Lane at Augusta National.
There’s a gap in the stately row of trees that line one of the most famous drives in America, the aftermath of thunderstorms that swept through Augusta early Tuesday and damaged other parts of the course, too. Workers quickly cleaned up most of the mess, but even the meticulous caretakers at the course can’t replace a tree planted before the Civil War.
Certainly not on a few days’ notice.
“One-hundred-and-fifty-year-old magnolias are in short supply for transplanting,” Augusta National chairman Billy Payne said Wednesday, a day before the Masters begins. “We were all very much saddened by that ”
The storm downed trees and power lines and littered Augusta National with debris. Payne said repair crews were on the course within an hour, and the club is so proficient at masking flaws that players didn’t even realize the eighth green had been damaged.
Magnolias, however, are notoriously difficult to transplant, so officials just left the spot bare.
“That drive, I guess it has 60 magnolia trees now instead of 61,” defending champion Phil Mickelson said. “But it did not detract from the drive up.”
MOORE SHARP IN PAR-3
No one has won the Masters Par 3 Contest and followed by winning the Masters itself, making winning the event held Wednesday at Augusta a dubious distinction.
Ryan Moore gave it a shot anyway. The Puyallup golfer fired a 3-under 24, good for a share of fourth place.
Luke Donald won it with a 5-under 22, prompting English countryman Lee Westwood to say, “Oh, poor Luke.” Second was shared by 68-year-old Raymond Floyd and Angel Cabrera, one shot back.
Peter Uilhein, winner of the U.S. Amateur at Chambers Bay in August, came in at 3-under in the Par 3 Contest. Uilhein, as the top amateur at the Masters, will join Phil Mickelson for the first two rounds thanks to a tradition that pairs the previous year’s champion with the amateur champion. Payne says officials will take a close look at their criteria after this Masters to decide whether a change in the size of the field is required. There are 99 players in the field, the most since 103 players in 1966. It’s all about the quality of golfers’ experience, Payne said, and “100 pushes that limit quite significantly.” In a bit of a change, Robert Allenby is hardly practicing at all. Allenby played the front nine on Wednesday, having played the back nine on Tuesday. “You can overdo it,” he said.