Augusta, Ga.

My first day at the 2018 Masters:

-My column, to be posted at startribune.com and in the Wednesday paper, is on a day spent following Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and on what they had to say about their new-ish friendship.

-Said hello to Vikings receiver Adam Thielen, who was on the grounds with a couple of friends. Remember seeing Steve Hutchinson here during his playing days.

-Tom Watson might have been the only guy on the practice range wearing saddle shoe-style golf shoes.

-Augusta National is a highly controlling organization. One thing the green jackets can’t control is the blooming of their famous azaleas. Or maybe they can. Because they’re spectacular this year, after a few down years.

-What you see live that you can’t grasp on TV: The elevation change from the 10th tee to the 16th green is immense, and so is the drop from the 6th tee to the green.

-Tiger was remarkably forthcoming during his press conference. One item not included in my column: Asked if him winning The Masters after back fusion surgery at the age of 42, having not won here since 2005, would be the greatest comeback in sports history, he said this:

``Well, I have four rounds to play, so let’s just kind of slow down. I’ve had anticipation like this prior. If you remember the build-up from the PGA in 2000 to the Masters of 2001, nine months of building up, what that tournament would mean. And it’s the same thing. I got to go play and then let the chips fall where they may, and hopefully I end up on top. But I got a lot of work to do between now and then.

``As far as greatest comebacks, I think that one of the greatest comebacks in all of sport is the gentleman who won here, Mr. (Ben) Hogan. I mean, he got hit by a bus and came back and won major championships. The pain he had to endure, the things he had to do just to play, the wrapping of the leg...how hard it was for him to walk, walk period, and he ended up walking 36 holes and winning a U.S. Open. And that’s just - that’s one of the greatest comebacks there is, and it happens to be in our sport.’’

Good stuff.

-Phil Mickelson puts on the greatest press conferences in the sport. He was asked about holing a flop shot during a practice round, and...well, I won’t type the 3,000 words he said, but he included the grain of the grass and the way the ball rolls on different greens and turned a simple question into a treatise on how tricky Augusta National can be. And I can’t think of anyone else who could make that answer sound like advanced physics.

-I’ll be writing columns and posting blogs from Augusta all week. I’ve covered 25 baseball opening days and this is my 10th Masters, thanks to the Star Tribune. Thanks for reading.

-There was a long line to get into Woods’ press conference. I’ve never seen that before at The Masters. Or anywhere else.

 

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