WHO: Phil Mickelson
WHAT: Masters preparation
WHERE: TPC at Sugarloaf
WHEN: BellSouth Classic
Some pros griped about the Monday finish at the BellSouth but not Mickelson. He says playing the week before a major helps him stay sharp, so having only two days instead of three between rounds is a bonus. If Lefty is going to contend this week, he'll have to be on his toes at the spots I've listed.
As an assistant pro at the National from 1989 to '92, I played more than 100 rounds there, with a best of 65. Here are the pivotal locations at the Masters.
1. Number 1 was the hardest hole last year. The key is to avoid the long, deep fairway bunker on the right.
2. The front-left pin is the hardest hole location on the course. The narrow opening on the front left of the green is sloped and only 10 yards wide.
3. Wedge control is mandatory. Miss your target on the short approach by as little as a yard on this shallow, elevated and slanted green, and you're lucky to make par.
4. With three tiers and a false front, the green has more break than any other on the course.
5. The hardest driving hole, 18 is routinely the first or second most difficult at the Masters. After 10 holes that require a draw off the tee, you suddenly have to switch gears and hit a fade.
Michael Breed teaches at Sunningdale Country Club in Scarsdale, N.Y., and is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher.
Five Toughest Spots at Augusta National
1. 1st tee
2. 4th green
3. 7th green
4. 14th green
5. 18th tee
... AND ANOTHER THING
"Tour events must go to Monday if they get socked with rain. Sponsors and host clubs invest millions and deserve the chance to recoup that money."
How much rain has fallen on PGA Tour professionals this year? Almost twice as much as has fallen on Seattle, America's most notoriously rainy city. Through Sunday, Seattle had received 10.19 inches of rain, while PGA Tour events had been deluged with 18.67 inches.
Jan. 10--16 Sony 0.19"
Jan. 24--30 Bob Hope 0.11"
Feb. 14--20 Nissan 6.19"
Feb. 22--27 Match Play 1.21"
Feb. 28--March 6 Doral 1.15"
March 7--13 Honda 3.25"
March 14--20 Bay Hill 2.45"
March 21--27 Players 1.51"
March 28--April 3 BellSouth 2.61"
TOP 100 TEACHERS POLL
Will a member of the Fab Four (Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh and Tiger Woods) win the Masters, or will someone else ?
Fab Four 71%
Someone else 29%
"This year all the majors will belong to the Fab Four."
THE TRAINING STATION
JOHN BAZEMORE/AP (MICKELSON)
GARY HERSHORN/REUTERS (AUGUSTA NATIONAL)
The huge fairway bunker on the right makes number 1 Augusta's hardest hole.
STAN BADZ/PGA TOUR/WIREIMAGE.COM (RAIN)
JOHN BIEVER (ELS)