Notebook: Big Three opine on Eisenhower’s Tree
by John Bednarowski
sportseditor@mdjonline.com
April 11, 2014 04:00 AM | 1450 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After their ceremonial tee shots, the trio of, from left, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus offered their opinions on the felled Eisenhower Tree.
<Br>Associated Press photo
After their ceremonial tee shots, the trio of, from left, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus offered their opinions on the felled Eisenhower Tree.
Associated Press photo
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AUGUSTA — In addition to being three of the greatest champions who have played the game, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player are among the best golf course designers in the world.

So there’s little surprise that they each have an opinion on what Augusta National should do in regard to replacing the fallen Eisenhower Tree.

“I think I would probably put a tree right back where the tree was,” Palmer said about the large loblolly pine that was lost after last February’s ice storm damaged most of the tree’s branches. “(I’d) try to get (the new tree) about as similar as it was when it was taken out.”

The approximately 100-year-old tree guarded the left side of the 17th fairway. But since the tree stood only 210 yards off the tee, it rarely came into play for the tournament professionals.

Nicklaus said the tree was a real problem for the members, and and that if a new tree is planted, it should be placed farther down the fairway.

“I look at the area, (and) it does look a little naked,” Nicklaus said about the view off the tee. “Could you put a tree back? Sure, you could put a tree back. But I, personally, think the hole needs definition a little further up, not back. There’s many things they can do, and I’m sure they will come up with a solution that they think is best for the golf course.”

Player would prefer nothing at all.

“I am anti-trees in the middle of the fairway, same as I’m against bunkers in the middle of the fairways,” he said. “There’s enough trouble. Golf is a very tough game, particularly for the members who don’t hit many fairways. I think the tree, as much respect as I had for the name attached to the tree, I think it’s best that the tree is not put back.”

ADD TWO: England’s Luke Donald thought his score of 77 was bad enough.

Before the night was over, though, it got worse.

It was determined that, after Donald left his shot from a greenside bunker on No. 9 in the trap, he then ground his club in the sand, violating Rule 13-4. He was assessed a two-stroke penalty, which turned his 77 into a 79.

MAYBE GOALBY WAS RIGHT?: On Wednesday, 1968 Masters champion Bob Goalby said his great-nephew, Bill Haas, might have a chance to win his first Masters this week.

After shooting a 4-under-par 68 on Thursday, Haas has a one shot lead after the first round.

However, if Haas wants to keep the bragging rights for the best Masters finish in his immediate family, he has little room for error. His father, Jay Haas, who currently plays on the Champions Tour, finished third in 1995 and has five top-10 finishes.

CAPTAIN TOM: With the Ryder Cup coming at the end of the summer, 2014 Ryder Cup caption Tom Watson is going to be playing a few more events on the PGA Tour so he can better see the players that potentially will make up his team.

Watson said he will play the Heritage next week at Hilton Head and then the Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia the week of the Fourth of July. He will also get to see them at the British Open, the PGA Championship and the Players Championship.
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