ICYMI Augusta: Poulter prank, Ernie's last goodbye, and Day still hopeful

The Scoop

Old prankster Ian Poulter got one over on all of us on April Fool's Day, and why it might be one final walk at Augusta for one of its nearly men Ernie Els.

Poulter gets late Masters invite…

We all love April Fool’s Day don’t we, a series of hilarious pranks once a year when we’re not expecting it. Other than it being on the same date every year. So it takes something special (not really) to catch a whole host of people out.

Which Ian Poulter managed when he tweeted this..

With the news that Tiger wouldn’t be playing his one-time No. 2 in waiting – in Poulter’s own eyes – was getting a late call-up to the Masters. His caddie Terry Mundy even got calls from fellow bagmen asking if he wanted to share some digs. Even his dad fell for it.

And so it went on with a cropped photo of his 2015 invite. Better later than never indeed. There was also a picture of a plane to suggest that the Postman was on his way to Georgia.

Except there are no alternates for the Masters – Woods pulling out changes nothing. If Poulter hadn’t been invited already he wasn’t going to get a late one. The last time the club dished any out was in fact 2013.

If you were being particularly clever the first word of the year has a straight line on it, and not an S for seventeen, while the biggest stumbling block was that the Masters website made no reference to his late invite.

To coin a famous Augusta phrase, better than most though…

Farewell to Ernie?

Much like Greg Norman it seems faintly ludicrous that Ernie Els doesn’t own at least one green jacket but, as things stand, this looks like being the South African’s 23rd and likely final trip to Augusta as a player.

Els stands 404th in the world and his five-year exemption thanks to his Open win at Lytham runs out this year. As such Els, with his three top fives and six top 10s and that crushing defeat by Phil Mickelson in 2004, plans on having a memorable week. He has rented a second house for family and friends this week.

“I’ve put a lot of energy into that event and that’s why after 22 times there, I’m not really looking at going to win,” he said. “I’m hoping to have a nice week and if I can play the four rounds that’ll be great and that’ll be that. A lot of guys have never had the opportunity to have a chance to win and I’ve had a couple of chances to win. So I knew how that felt. It didn’t quite go my way. I just want to have a good week.”

Els’ first trip to Augusta in 1994 finished in a tie for eighth and it seemed then that this was the major for him.

“I played with [Ben] Crenshaw in the third round and shot 67 with him. He was excited for me and we chatted afterwards. He said how many times I was going to win it. As it happened, it never kind of blossomed. I think I used to put too much pressure on myself around Augusta. You have to be a little loose and play the shots. I was always a little bit tight. You have to let the course come to you.”

Ernie Els

As for those putting yips of 12 months ago, Els, as ever, faced the question full on.

“You play this game long enough, you are going to embarrass yourself a couple of times,” Els added. “That was one of them. I don’t think about it too much. I’ve moved on from there. My stats say I’ve moved on. It was just a blip. I worked on something very new, very different. It just went nuts up there.”

Driver a key for Open champion Stenson

Henrik Stenson has played in the last 11 Masters, three times he has missed the cut and his best effort is a tie for 14th three years ago.

Given his skills and efforts in the other three majors it is an odd record and one that he hopes to tidy up next week.

The Swede, who will arrive at Augusta as a major champion this time around, has been working on key two areas in a bid to help double his major tally.

“I think there’s a number of things, some of them I try to address and do better in my preparation. We’re trying to get the driver in play on a couple of the holes where we maybe played a bit too conservative in the past,” he said. “I’ve done some things differently, and hopefully that will pay off in the right direction.”

Stenson added that the lack of rough has gone against him, given his accuracy with his 3-wood while he has also asked the staff at Lake Nona to speed up the practice green to make them something more along the lines of Augusta.

Woodland WD due to losing baby

When Gary Woodland withdrew from the WGC-Match Play he said it was because of a ‘personal family matter’.

Then he posted on Twitter the following message: “Last week I withdrew from the WGC-Match Play to be with my wife, Gabby, as there were complications with our recently announced pregnancy with twins.

“Gabby and I have since had to cope with the heartbreaking loss of one of the babies, and our doctors will be closely monitoring the health of my wife and the other baby for the remainder of the pregnancy.”

The 32-year-old still plans to play at Augusta.

Day hopeful of Masters bid

Jason Day was another to pull out of the Match Play when he tearfully revealed that his mum was battling lung cancer.

But the Aussie, as things stand, hopes to be at the Masters though that will all depend on his mum’s prognosis following surgery and whether it had spread to her lymph nodes. Day’s dad died of cancer when he was 12.

“Obviously I’m still nervous because we’re still waiting to see if it has spread or not,” Day said. “From there, we have to kind of come up with a game plan whether to go chemo – a form of chemo radiation – or something else.

“I’ve been hanging out with my mom a bit and seeing her, and she’s recovering well. She’s a tough lady, but it’s hard because I look at her and she’s on the painkillers and all that stuff, what she needs to do to recover. My mom told me not to worry about it. It’s hard to do that. It’s easy to say but it’s really, really difficult.”

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