Posted on: April 10, 2011 12:29 pm
Edited on: April 10, 2011 12:39 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Three hours before their favorite son starts the biggest workday of his young career, an anxious crowd was already gathering back home.
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy grew up playing at Holywood Golf Club outside Belfast, where members and friends were collecting themselves to watch the final round on television from Augusta National.
CBS broadcaster Jim Nantz said he called the club at around 12 p.m. ET, and was told that a throng was already forming, including two newspaper reporters and a TV crew, to watch the reaction of McIlroy's friends and fans at the wellspring where he learned the game.
Nantz said it was not certain whether McIlroy's parents, who aren't with him in Augusta, will join the party or not. Gerry McIlroy, Rory's father, used to tend bar at the club, one of the many jobs he held to help finance his son's golf over the years.
Rory, 21, started play on Sunday with a four-shot lead. Only three players in the previous 74 years of Masters play have lost a 54-hole lead that big entering the final round.
Posted on: April 10, 2011 12:14 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The weather's perfect and the course is, too.
The best two hours of the year beckon at the 75th Masters Tournament.
After two days of a tougher set-up, Augusta National officials have placed the key back-nine pins in the customary honey spots for the final round, which should generate some serious fireworks. The weather will approach 90 degrees and there hasn't been a drop of rain all week, allowing the officials to dial up the conditions exactly as they want them.
"I think we are going to hear some cheers," said Mike Davis of the USGA, who is working the event in the signing area.
World No. 2 Lee Westwood eyed the pin-placement sheet before he headed off to warm up and walked through the world's most famous stretch of holes, one by one.
The 10th flag is in a slightly different spot, but that's not particularly considered a scoring hole, anyway. He reeled through the rest and started to smile, then made note of a new pin locale on the 17th.
The 17th green was rebuilt in the offseason and the flag is in a back-right location Sunday. It's usually tucked in the front portion, closer to the bunker, Westwood said.
It will allow players a better chance to get closer to the flag, in theory.
"That'll be the most interesting one," Westwood said. "Because that's the firmest green on the golf course."
Most importantly, the flags on the 13th and 15th, the crucial par-5s, appear to be within a few inches of the traditional locations.
Posted on: April 10, 2011 11:29 am
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- As thought there isn't enough heat on the back nine on Sunday normally?
The weather forecast for the final round in the Augusta National area looks more like a midsummer day's dream.
By the time the leaders are playing the back nine, temperatures are expected to soar into the low 90s in the sunshine, and the fans standing in the pines will be suffering along at 86 degrees in the shade at 5 p.m. ET.
The good news is that for the first time in three days, there's virtually no chance of rain projected during the back-nine fireworks. Saturday's forecast called for a 50 percent chance of thunderstorms, but the event dodged the heavy stuff and there have been no weather-associated delays all week.
In other words, the only claps will come from the gallery, not thunder.