About Jill Painter

Jill Painter is a sports columnist for the Los Angeles News Group, covering everything from the Dodgers, Lakers, Clippers, USC, UCLA, Kings, golf and all human interest stories in sports.

Controversy brewing at the Masters

And it surrounds 14-year-old amateur Tianlang Guan.
He was assessed a slow-play penalty on the 17th hole, and he could miss the cut because of it. Stay tuned.
Guan waited more than 90 minutes to address the media afterward, but he said: “I respect the decision they made.”
The top-50 and ties and those within 10 shots of the leader make the cut. He’s tied for 56 at 4-over, so he’s right on the money and would make the cut right now with Marc Leishman leading at 6-under with 18 holes to play.

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Rain, rain go away

It’s raining at the Masters. Umbrellas are out and golf is still on. The rain was supposed to start yesterday, and even though there was a bit of rain overnight, rain didn’t start until about 11amish this morning.

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What Sergio needs to do…

To win the Masters…
Here’s my column!
JILL PAINTER ON GOLF: Sergio Garcia must Master his emotions
By Jill Painter, Columnist
Posted: 04/11/2013 11:51:41 PM PDT
Updated: 04/11/2013 11:55:16 PM PDT

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Sergio Garcia needs to channel his inner teenager, the one who famously skipped down the fairway at Medinah Country Club all those years ago, in order to win the Masters.

Sadly, he won’t let himself get that geeked up over a golf tournament anymore.

At 33, Garcia is so far removed from that joyous place of unbridled enthusiasm and never-ending smiles he seems like a different person.

He’s older and wiser and more serious and even a bit defensive when talking about Augusta National. He just hasn’t played well here. He and Augusta aren’t exactly BFF’s. Augusta hasn’t treated him well, and he has no problem admitting this isn’t his favorite place.

Last year, he admitted he couldn’t win here.

And there’s that dubious distinction he’s still never won a major. Anywhere.

Garcia is a surprising Masters co-leader after firing an impressive first-round 6-under 66 – tied for his career best here – on Thursday. He had six birdies and no bogeys for the first time around here in 11 years.

He was asked about his lower expectations and responded: “Lower expectation, maybe that’s what you say. Every time I tee off in a tournament, my goal is to play the best I can and have a chance at winning.

“It doesn’t change this week.”

The last time Garcia shot 66 was in the final round in 2004, but he wasn’t in contention then.

He’s in contention now and will be battling the demons that have plagued him in his 15 appearances

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here. Garcia has just two top-10 finishes (fourth place in 2004 was his best) and has missed the cut four times.

Would the old Garcia, who finished second to Tiger Woods at the PGA Championship at Medinah in 1999, please stand up?

“I’m not saying I wasn’t realistic when I was 19,” Garcia said. “But obviously as you get older, you mature a little bit more.

“I’m sure it happened to you, too.”

After Garcia was done with his news conference, he ran into Dustin Johnson and the two friends shared a laugh. It was like looking in a mirror, except for the height differential.

Both are sponsored by Taylor Made, and both were wearing the same green shirts and black pants. Their outfits are pre-scripted by the company. If we could pre-script Garcia’s game plan for the next three rounds, they would include hopping and air kicks, no matter the results.

Johnson remembers those circumstances.

“One of the shots I remember is maybe the PGA where he hit from behind the tree,” Johnson said. “That’s one that sticks out in my head.”

Garcia pulled off a great shot, and couldn’t hide his pleasure in doing so. That’s everyone’s early memory of Garcia, and then there are his surly comments and attitude over the year that got worse when he became known as the best player to never win a major.

Last year, he shockingly told Spanish reporters at the Masters: “I’m not good enough … I don’t have the thing I need to have. In 13 years, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to play for second or third place.”

Those words haunt him now, especially from where his name is perched atop the leaderboard.

“Those were my words,” Garcia said. “But no, I think that at the end of the day, we go through those moments, tough moments and frustrated moments and I know that was one of them.

“I obviously didn’t say it the right way because it was one of those frustrating moments.”

He said it in his native tongue. It was honest. That’s how he felt. He’d been beaten up here so many times, it’s just tough he said it out loud for the world to hear. Now, in his own words, he’s played some of his best golf here ever and must convince himself he has the stuff to play three more rounds in similar fashion.

“What I’m going to try to take to the pillow (at night) is the first 10 holes,” Garcia said. “I think it’s, without a doubt, the best 10 holes I’ve played at the Masters.

“Even though scoring-wise maybe it wasn’t, but the way I hit the ball and amount of birdie chances I gave myself, it meant a lot.”

And now, he must eat those words and pretend he had his fingers crossed behind his back.

He has to remember he can play for first. The kid in him never would doubt that.

We still remember that lovable Garcia, but he has long forgotten.

Maybe when he’s thinking about those 10 holes in his dreams, he’ll remember that joy he had for the game.

It would serve him well at the Masters.

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Good morning from Augusta!

While you were sleeping, Sergio Garcia started his meltdown. He bogeyed the third and fourth holes to fall to a tie for second, and that’s probably the last we’ll see of Garcia, who’s never won a major but was co-leader. It was good while it lasted.

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Huh’s first tee shot…

finds the fairway. That’s a good omen for the 22-year-old who’s playing in the Masters for the first time. The first tee shot at Augusta can be nerve-racking, but he was safely in the fairway. Huh has the good fortune of playing early enough where he could miss the expected afternoon rain.

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Huh to tee off in 10 minutes

John Huh – the Crescenta Valley High graduate – will tee off in his first Masters in 10 minutes. Huh has been loose all week and has yet to battle nerves, but that could change today. He birdied the 16th hole Monday, the first time he played the course. It’s a cloudy day today with rain in the forecast later this afternoon.

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Masters postcard

Day Two at the Masters, Wednesday, the day before the tournament begins!
The sun-drenched day was absolutely gorgeous. I took a photo outside the gates with the sun shining so brightly, and it was a good day from there. I met L.A.-based photographer Paul Lester near the oak tree and scoreboard to get my picture taken there, for proof that I was there. You can’t take cellphones on the course, and I haven’t used a regular old camera in ages, so Lester graciously took a couple of photos for me. Lester is one of the nicest men on the planet and I found that not only does he know everyone in L.A., he knows everyone at Augusta, too.
I was introduced to Bobby Hinds, Woodley Lake’s teaching pro, and Mark White, a Wilshire CC member who, like me was here for the first time. He did some considerable damage in the merchandise shop.
I got my first walking tour of the course today from Ventura County Star golf writer Bob Buttitta, who’s covering his ninth Masters and knows most every nook and cranny of the course. And I’ve had my ah-ha moment, at Amen Corner. Sat down where you could see the 11th, 12th and 13th holes, looked at the bridge, took in a few breaths and realized how much history is there. That Corner makes and breaks golfers and while it looks great on TV, it doesn’t do it justice.
On the 13th hole, a man asked me to take a picture of him and his buddies, one of whom was wearing a Denver Broncos shirt. Come to find out, a couple of them were from Ft. Collins, Colo., where I grew up, too. Such a small world, even at Augusta.
Watched John Huh – a Crescenta Valley graduate – play in the Par-3 Tournament. Talked to him the last two days, and he seems to be completely OK with the big stage he’s about to be on for the first time tomorrow.
Was so cool to see Zach Johnson playing with his toddler son, Wyatt, who was sprinting to keep up with Johson’s walking stride. Then on the ninth hole, Johnson let his son putt out, and he made the putt. He posed over the hole, then high-fived his dad. Cool moment.

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Good morning from Augusta!

Today is the Par-3 Contest day, and that’s always a highlight before the tournament begins, watching many of the game’s biggest stars playing golf with their kids. It’s a gorgeous, sunny day. Tomorrow might not be as nice, although the rain forecast is for late afternoon, evening. Saw a few guys from the Valley this morning, and one was here for his first time and dropped $2,500 on hats, shirts and wine.

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