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Augusta Insight – Rules Official Style

MARANA, AZ - FEBRUARY 26:  J.B. Holmes (R) talks with rules official Dean Ryan after taking a drop on the 18th hole during the quarterfinal round of the Accenture Match Play Championship at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club on February 26, 2011 in Marana, Arizona.  (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
MARANA, AZ - FEBRUARY 26: J.B. Holmes (R) talks with rules official Dean Ryan after taking a drop on the 18th hole during the quarterfinal round of the Accenture Match Play Championship at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club on February 26, 2011 in Marana, Arizona. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

It’s been a few days since Charl Schwartzel slipped on the Green Jacket and I have to say that coming down from the adrenaline rush that The Masters causes is not a lot of fun.  As a fellow golf fan, I am sure you can relate.

For the last few years one of my extra ways to get some insight about The Masters has been a post-tournament chat with RCGA (GolfCanada) Rules Chairman and Flagstick Rules Columnist, Dean Ryan.  Ryan, an Ottawa resident, was once again at The Masters as a rules official and we had a short debrief by phone just last might.

It was a quick one and I’d like to talk with him more about this year’s tournament soon, but what he passed on last night was intriguing:

-Unlike many tour events Dean says the radio chatter is pretty much non-existent between Rules Officials at The Masters where there are staff to take care of each hole.  That all changed on Sunday when a certain young Irishmen made a foray into the cabins to the left of the 10th hole.  Let’s just say the rulings are now WELL defined if that should happen again .

-Speaking of Rory McIlroy, by the time he came to the 13th hole he was well out of the mix of possible winners and made another faux pas with an errant drive to the left and into Rae’s Creek.  Dean, who was assigned to the hole on Sunday, says that in interacting with Rory for his drop ruling, he was impressed by the demeanor of the 21 year-old who had been the tournament leader for 63 holes.  “By then I think most players would have felt like throwing a club or two but he was still very polite and composed,” Dean told.  “That’s pretty impressive, especially knowing he had just given away a major championship”

-Given the height of the trees on that 13th hole at Augusta National, most players prefer to use a ball shape that works AROUND the corner.  Dean says that was not the case for Bubba Watson.  The left-handed bomber, who most would imagine would play a cut around the corner, instead chose to aim OVER the woods and draw the back to the fairway beyond the the dogleg.  He succeeded but Ryan says that unless he had seen him actually play a drive like that in person earlier in the year when he was a rules official at the Accenture World Match Play Championship (see photo) , he wouldn’t have though ANY player would even attempt that shot.  “I don’t think anyone else would have the ability or thought to go OVER those trees that way.”

-One last note. Ryan says the fan noise level as Tiger Woods made his charge on the front nine on Sunday was unlike any he had ever heard at Augusta National, not even rivaling the applause for Phil Mickelson’s miracle shot on 13 during the final round in 2010 (when Dean was the rules official for that hole as well).  “That all changed after he made the bogey on 12,” said Ryan. “It got pretty quiet after that.”

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