AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Saturday at the Masters means a big day for fans of Tiger Woods. One of the all-time-greats was back near the top.
The energy from Tiger’s Friday finish only grew stronger overnight.
“Oh, Tiger’s back. He’s shooting a 64 today. You heard it here first. Let’s go.”
Enthusiasm as thick as the Augusta humidity as patrons turned out to see if the legend could keep it going.
“He’s hitting the ball great. He’s in every hole. If he can make a couple of putts, I think he’s got a good chance to be in the last group on Sunday.”
Tiger hasn’t won here since 2005. His recent results prove he’s capable of doing it this year.
“There’s no question he’s playing better. And he’s putting better, which will definitely give him a chance.”
“While Tiger may be playing well now, what about that intimidation factor he used to have back in the day?”
“He’s been playing as one of the players for the last, what, 10-15 years? And time has gone and gotten to a point where he’s just one of them.
“I do agree that part of his game has gone away. He had everybody beaten when he showed up on Sunday in the old days.”
The Masters, as always, is set for an incredible finish. A finish that could be historic depending on the performance of one of the greatest players ever.
“He’s back. It’s pretty exciting to watch, right?”
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Saturday at the Masters is moving day and while the pros hope to move up on the leaderboard… junior patrons move about the course.
Ashley Osborne: These junior patrons.
I got the answer.
Ashley Osborne: Not tallying golf scores
You got it Ryan? Everybody got it down?
Ashley Osborne: But the cost of lunch
Total– four dollars and fifty cents.
Ashley Osborne: Emerson Finch on the masters scavenger hunt too.
Ashley Osborne: Can you tell me what a scavenger hunt is?
Emerson Finch/ Junior Patron: You get to find eagle and flags.
Ashley Osborne: How are you here at The Masters?
Emerson Finch/ Junior Patron: I have a Junior Pass.
Elliott Woodward/ Patron: And as part of that free pass, there’s a scavenger hunt.
Ashley Osborne: Her grandad helped her fill out the junior pass passport.
Ashley Osborne: What are you most looking forward to seeing here today?
Emerson Finch/ Junior Patron: Eagle.
Did you see the Eagle statue when you walked in?
Emerson Finch/ Junior Patron: Yes
And did you write it down in your book?
Emerson Finch/ Junior Patron: Yes.
Ashley Osborne: Why’d you write 19.
Emerson Finch/ Junior Patron: Because there were 19 flags.
Ashley Osborne: On top of the leader board. Do you know what those flags are?
Emerson Finch/ Junior Patron: They’re for different states.
Ashley Osborne: Close, different countries. You were super close though.
Elliott Woodward/ Patron: The youth learn about the course and about the tournament, about the history.
Elliott Woodward/ Patron: And then we found out which year Arnold Palmer first won The Masters. What year was that?
Emerson Finch/ Junior Patron: 1958.
Elliott Woodward/ Patron: 1958, exactly.
Ashley Osborne: And she is very engaged. I mean, she knows the answers. She’s doing things. How proud does that make you?
Elliott Woodward/ Patron: Oh it’s a splendid thrill for me. Just to see her get so excited and of course she was so anxious this morning. We were at home and it was raining and she was just so anxious to leave home.
Ashley Osborne: Do you think you win anything if you everything?
Emerson Finch/ Junior Patron: Yes
Ashley Osborne: You do! What do you win?
Emerson Finch/ Junior Patron: I don’t know.
Ashley Osborne: The week before this, there was a women’s tournament. Now little ones like her have the chance to maybe play out here one day. What does that mean for you as a grandfather of little granddaughters?
Elliott Woodward/ Patron: Well I have 4 granddaughters and a grandson. It’s extra special for me with so many young girls in my family with the prospects of women one day playing on this course.
Ashley Osborne: And little Emerson’s already planning her champions dinner.
Elliott Woodward/ Patron: What’s the entre going to be?
Emerson Finch/ Junior Patron: Steak.
Elliott Woodward/ Patron: Alright, Steak for the entre. And what kind of sides are we having?
Emerson Finch/ Junior Patron: French fries.
Elliott Woodward/ Patron: French fries, great.
GRANITEVILLE, S.C. (WJBF) — Austin Eckroat of Oklahoma took a 5-shot lead into the final round, but he would have to make a couple of clutch birdie putts late to finish off his victory in the 6th Junior Invitational at Sage Valley. The Oklahoma State commit made a big birdie putt on 15, then needed another one on 18 to secure a 1-shot win over Australia’s Min Woo Lee. Lee fired a final round 67 to nearly overcome a 9-shot deficit for the victory.
Duluth, Georgia’s Benjamin Hunt was in the hunt for most of the day Sunday, but he double bogeyed 15 and 17 and finished tied for 7th.
Here is the full release on Sunday’s final round from the PGA of America:
Graniteville, South Carolina (April 23, 2016) – Sometimes in life you have to read the fine print. Austin Eckroat of Edmond, Oklahoma, shot a final-round 75 to win the 2016 Junior Invitational at Sage Valley Golf Club by one shot over Min Woo Lee of Australia. Eckroat led wire-to-wire finishing with a three-day total of 210.
Don’t be deceived. Sunday was an epic struggle for the 17-year-old Oklahoma State verbal commitment, who edged Lee (211), John Axelsen of Sweden (third place, 213) and Davis Shore (fourth, 214) of Knoxville, Tennessee.
The leader by three and five strokes after the first two rounds, respectively, Eckroat started Saturday’s final round slowly. He knew early something was amiss. He double-bogeyed the first hole, his first double-square all week.
His was so off, he had more bogeys or double bogeys (three) within his initial seven holes than he had the first two rounds (2), combined.
“I really struggled off the tee,” said Eckroat. “I was hitting it left and my irons were going right. I had no idea what I was doing.”
Four consecutive pars on holes 8-11 steadied his ship, but only temporarily, as bogeys on No. 12 and 14 shaved his lead to a single shot.
He birdied the par-5 15th, getting up and down from just off the green (50 feet). “I knew I needed to make that [15-foot birdie] putt.”
At 16, Eckroat “pushed” his 4-foot bid for par.
“Then I heard the loud roar,” he said.
The roar was engineered by Lee, who snaked in “probably the best shot I’ve ever hit. It was a big 40-footer, down the hill, left-to-right, then right-to-left, a double-breaker. It just trickled in.”
Just like that, things were all square between Eckroat and Lee.
After routine pars on 17 for Eckroat and on 18 for Lee, it appeared extra holes might be in order.
Eckroat pushed his drive on 18 into the right rough. He was 235 yards out.
“I was thinking playoff,” admitted Eckroat, who pulled his 2-iron. “Whenever you have a 2-iron in hand, you are not thinking birdie.”
That mindset changed quickly when the 2-iron split the large green and rolled within 12 feet.
“I just totally forgot everything, swung and it worked,” said Eckroat of his second shot.
That left just the putt. Uphill, slightly right-to-left.
Eckroat walked it in. Just the third birdie of the day at No. 18 provided the 2015 Oklahoma Junior Champion with the greatest win of his burgeoning career.
Moments after his charge, which included eight birdies en route to a closing 67, had ended and his hopes for a playoff were dashed, the 17-year-old Lee was content with his effort and pleased for his friend.
“I am glad Austin made the birdie on the last hole. I’m happy for him.”
Asked about the week, his win and the experience, Eckroat smiled and offered, “this place [Sage Valley] is awesome, by far my favorite golf course.”
The 54-hole Junior Invitational at Sage Valley Golf Club is widely recognized as one of the premier junior tournaments in the world. The prestigious event attracts many of the game’s top-ranked junior golfers on an annual basis.
|Junior Invitational Champions||Paul S. Simon Character Award Recipients|
|2016||Austin Eckroat, Edmond, Okla.||Cooper Dossey, Austin, Tex.|
|2015||Marcus Kinhult, Sweden||Philip Barbaree, Shreveport, La.|
|2014||Scottie Scheffler, Dallas, Tex.||Cameron Champ, Sacramento, Calif.|
|2013||Carson Young, Pendleton, S.C.||Michael Pisciotta, Alpharetta, Ga.|
|2012||Zachary Olsen, Cordova, Tenn.||—|
|2011||Nicholas Reach, Moscow, Pa.||—|
Over the last few tournaments, Tiger Woods appearances at the Masters Golf Tournament have been more like a journeyman pro than a 14-time major champion.
He’s missed three out of the last four.
Tiger is back, this year, and there’s a buzz. Good news travels fast.
Michael Lester was on the prowl at Augusta National, Tiger Hunting.
“It’s unreal to have the big cat back right now,” said Lester. “He’s playing real well right now and he’s the favorite.”
Tiger’s name is back on the scoreboard at the Masters and that’s something to talk about.
Bubba Watson: “Keep talking about Tiger Woods,” says 2-time Masters Champion, Bubba Watson. “Interview him all the time, tire him out. Nah, you know it’s fun.”
“Are you tired of talking about Tiger?” I asked 3-time champ, Nick Faldo.
“His presence here is going to be huge this week,” said Faldo. “Unbelievably he’s found a way to be competitive”
“It’s great that he’s back playing and playing well,” said 2013 champion, Adam Scott. “No one really knew how it would go. He’s played really nicely.”
“We all know that he kind of drove the needle, but he’s more than that. He is the needle,” said 1998 champion Mark O’Meara. “When he plays professional golf and he plays at a level we are used to seeing him play, people watch.”
“When he comes out he draws so many people, the price of the tickets have gone up. We need him to play well,” said the Black Knight himself, Gary Player.
Near the course you find the hospitality houses, where they think very well of Tiger.
“It’s a benefit for everybody in Augusta,” says Ram Silverman. “It’s not just the hospitality, it’s on the badge end. It’s pretty much the whole nine yards. It makes a big difference. Masters is always good, better when he’s here.”
“What would be your excitement level be if Tiger wins a Green Jacket Sunday?” I asked.
“I don’t think words could even describe it.”
No one is just going to hand Tiger Woods his fifth Green jacket. He’s going to have to earn it against a very strong field.
But he’s back at the Masters and that’s a start.
The spotlight of the sports world is shining on Augusta, Georgia this week as the city gets set to host The Masters.
Patrons and players from all over the world are in town for the tournament as the excitement builds toward round one on Thursday.
Here we are kicking off the first full week of April and with it the official start of springtime in Augusta.
Monday of course was a practice round. Whether they’re here for the pros or the plants, patrons we talked to are looking forward to a great week.
Day one of Masters week. A time to break out the cameras and cold beverages and soak it all in.
“This is my first time here and I’m just taking in the beauty of the course. Getting to see all the holes you see on TV and seeing it out in person for the first time. So I’m excited about that for sure.”
“I’m just here for the first time. I’m enjoying the golf course here.”
“We’re here for my husband’s birthday. So that’s the main thing.”
By midday Monday there was still no sign of one of the biggest Masters stars of all-time. But that didn’t stop folks from talking about him.
“I’m here for Tiger Woods.”
“I’m anticipating Tiger’s comeback obviously.”
“Like to see Tiger back in it.”
“A lot of Tiger Woods fans out here. No surprise. You know, when he won this tournament back in ’97, sportscaster Jim Nantz said it was a win for the ages. Well, some patrons we talked to said they want Tiger to do it again so it will be a win for the aged.”
“I think it’s good for golf. For the old guys. Make a little comeback. Make a little comeback. A good run on Sunday. That’ll be aweome.”
Today’s pretty awesome too. A chance to take a stress free stroll around one of
the prettiest places on earth. Just 3 short days ’til the competition begins. Come Thursday, many patrons will be watching the leaderboard and hoping it’s 1997 all over again.
“I think fans would love it. Especially this one.”
Tiger is always a big attraction at The Masters. The weather may end up stealing some of the headlines as the week goes on. Rain in the forecast for Wednesday. Rain and cold maybe, on Saturday. For now though, picture perfect conditions at Augusta National Golf Club