The dog ate my ticket
Just how far would a Seattle man go to get his prized ducats back
Published on Wednesday, Apr. 04, 2012 08:44AM EDT Last updated on Wednesday, Apr. 04, 2012 01:16PM EDT
THE DOG ATE MY TICKETS: We've all heard the excuse "the dog ate my homework" but for a Seattle-area man it was a case of the dog ate my tickets. And not just any ticket, these were prized tickets to the Masters.
Russ Berkman told KJR-AM radio in Seattle that after running some last minute errands in preparation for his trip to Augusta, he returned home to find his dog, a Swiss Mountain Dog named Sierra, had chewed and swallowed his most prized ducats.
After discussing the situation with his girlfriend, it was decided that they needed to get Sierra to return the tickets by having the dog ingest hydrogen peroxide in order to get her to vomit (You should always consult with your vet when it comes to this type of situation). Ten minutes later, Sierra had returned what was left of the tickets she swallowed - enough for Berkman to piece together about 70-percent of the four tickets he lost.
Berkman then called the Masters ticket office and after producing proof, he was reissued new passes for Wednesday.
WHO NEEDS 'EM: The Tiger Woods-Rory McIlroy anticipated rivalry at this year's Masters has continued to fuel the ticket re-sell market. On the popular U.S. website StubHub, a ticket to Wednesday's practice round could be bought for $625 (all figures US). A Thursday to Sunday tournament badge can be had for almost $2,400. Sunday's final round badges are currently starting at $728.
PAR-3 JINX: Last year, Luke Donald made a conscious effort to try and break the Augusta jinx - the one where the winner of the Par-3 tournament on Wednesday has never gone on to win the Masters. He gave it a good shot, finishing tied for fourth after back-to-back rounds of 69 on the final two days a year ago. This time around, Donald says he plans to relax and take it easy heading into Thursday's opening round.
"I've decided this year I'm not going to play the Par 3 actually," said the world number one.
"I actually had a very focused goal of trying to win both of them, and it was something that I wanted to do; something that was different, to try and defy convention I suppose. And I almost did it. I had a good chance at winning both. But this year I'm just going to concentrate on the main one."
Donald added he doesn't believe in a jinx and that he's hasn't given up on playing in the Par-3 tournament in future years.
"As fun as it is - and I probably will play it when my kids get a little bit older, because I think it's a great experience to take out my daughters to come carry a few clubs around with me," explained Donald. "But playing on greens that are not quite the same the afternoon before the first round doesn't seem the best preparation for me."
PLACE YOUR BETS: Here's a look at the 10 (or 12 as it were) favourites at the Masters this week, based on odds from British betting shop Ladbrokes.com:
1. Tiger Woods (5 to 1) Steadily improving play over the past six months and a victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March have everyone sizing up Woods for his fifth green jacket. He’ll need to putt this week as well as he did at Bay Hill.
2. Rory McIlroy (6 to 1) The world No. 2 contends in every tournament he enters (six top-five finishes, including a victory, in his past seven starts) and he had the Masters title in his hands last year -- at least for 63 holes. Can he finish the job?
3. Phil Mickelson (12 to 1) The three-time champion has been inconsistent this season, although he has a win and a playoff loss. Regardless, Augusta National often inspires him to play his best and most creative golf.
4. Luke Donald (16 to 1) Like McIlroy, he’s a top-10 machine. He possesses an unparalleled short game that more than makes up for his lack (relatively speaking) of length. A softened course could hurt his chances but he could still dink his way to his first major title.
5. Lee Westwood (20 to 1) The Englishman, who has 12 top-10s in majors in 55 starts, is still looking for his first major title, too. He’s quietly put up some terrific performances in the past six months (second only to McIlroy perhaps) and appears ready to peak.
6. Justin Rose (25 to 1) A brilliant ball-striker with a strong all-round game, he’s in good form (a victory in his last outing) and was in the hunt at the 2011 Masters. No reason he can’t challenge.
T7. Adam Scott (33 to 1) He was a runner-up last year and has a higher level of confidence in his putter (the long broom) and his caddy Steve Williams (Tiger’s ex). But he’s not had an exceptionally strong season on the PGA Tour (best finish: tie for 13th).
T7. Hunter Mahan (33 to 1) He’s the only two-time winner on the PGA Tour this year and, like Rose, is a great ball-striker. (They are both coached by Sean Foley.) His putting has even sharply improved. About the only thing you could say against him is that he might have peaked too early.
T7. Keegan Bradley (33 to 1) The 2011 PGA Championship winner is playing in his first Masters (and second major overall) but his lack of experience is balanced by his prodigious length, fearless style and strong putting. He says the course fits his eye and preferred shot shape (draw).
T10. Jason Day (40 to 1) The 24-year-old Australian was the other runner-up with Scott last year and placed second at the U.S. Open as well, but he hasn’t been such a factor since.
T10. Matt Kuchar (40 to 1) Another fixture in the top 10 – in 2010, more so than now. But with consistent play and good course management, he still seems to know how to find the top of the leaderboard.
T10. Charl Schwartzel (40 to 1) One always has to give the defending champion some respect. His gorgeous swing deserves it anyway. But can he realistically expect to birdie the final four holes again to win? -- (Jeff Brooke)
RAIN MAN: Three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson says, if the early weather forecasts are correct, thunderstorms will turn the year’s first major into a lottery that could favour the more inexperienced players. Rain would soften up Augusta National’s notoriously fast and tricky greens, making putting easier and allowing players to shoot straight at the pin.
“When the subtleties don’t come out, the experience of playing here in the past is not as important,” said Mickelson, who fears the advantage he has built up over his rivals on the faster greens could be washed away.
“You don’t have to fear the greens and you don’t have to know where the ball will end up and you don’t have to fear certain shots because you can get up and down from the edges. Those shots are not as hard.
“Therefore, I think there’s a very good chance that a young player, inexperienced, fearless player that attacks this golf course can win if you don’t need to show it the proper respect.”
“If it plays like this, then there won’t be the big mistakes made by any of the young players. I think that it will be a crowded leaderboard and a big birdie feast.”
MAJOR WINNER: Keegan Bradley never met a major he didn’t like - or win. The 25-year-old is undefeated when it comes to golf majors after becoming only the third man to win in his major debut, coming back from five shots down with three holes to play to win the PGA Championship last fall.
“I've won every major I've ever played in,” Bradley said with a grin. “I don't think it's that hard to be honest.”
But Bradley - the nephew of LPGA legend Pat Bradley - knows he will have an epic challenge to keep his unbeaten major status and make it two-for-two this week, an unprecedented feat.
“Certainly experience is something I'm giving up at this tournament,” said Bradley, looking to join Fuzzy Zoeller as a first-time Masters player to win the green jacket.
“There is a lot of first-time ignorance. You just go out and play the course and that can help sometimes.“
Prior to arriving this week, Bradley recalled one of his first visits to Augusta National.
"When I was on the Hooters Tour, I had an event in McCormick, South Carolina, which is 10 minutes away. I decided to drive up and see Augusta. I remember going to Subway and parking my car down Magnolia Lane on the other side and just eating and staring down Magnolia Lane and ready to rip my hair out of my head."
WHAT ABOUT US: Talk of the Masters being a battle between Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy is “naive,” according to top-ranked Englishmen Luke Donald and Lee Westwood.
World number three Westwood says he can see why the focus would be on McIlroy and Woods but it does a disservice to all the other top players gathered in Augusta this week.
“Rory has never won here, Tiger has not won here since 2005,” said Westwood. “So I think everybody in this room would have to be naive to think it was a two-horse race wouldn’t they?”
“There’s more. I think Phil (Mickelson) might have a little bit of something to say about that; Luke might; I might.”
“It's great for the game of golf and the Masters Tournament ...it's whipped up a bit of a frenzy, I suppose.”
Neither Westwood nor Donald have won a major championship but both feel they are among a large group of players who have a chance of sliding into the winner’s green jacket on Sunday.
“Everyone wants to make that kind of rivalry, and obviously those two guys garner the most attention right now,” said Donald. “It’s a little naive to say that they are the only two that have a chance to win around here. Just in the last, what, three or four years of majors, I don’t think there’s been a multiple winner.
“So obviously without one or two people dominating, I think there’s a chance for a lot of people to win this week.”
“I woke up that morning and I felt like I was going to win. I honestly did. I had this complete calmness about it, too. That was the best part about it. It’s all good to say I’m going to win today, but if you are all nervous inside then you actually have doubts. I felt so calm and I was so convinced that I could do it.” -- Charl Schwartzel, who came from four strokes off the pace to win the Masters in 2011 with four straight birdies to close out the tournament.
Jeff Brooke contributed to this report