In a closing burst Nick Price eagled the 15th hole and shot 32 on Augusta National's back nine last Friday. But his total score of 149 missed the cut by four strokes, so the reigning British Open and PGA champion headed home to Florida.
Price's attempt to win three consecutive major championships went bust when he opened with a 76 and then shot a 41 on Augusta National's front side on Friday. After 27 holes he was nine over par and hardly feeling like the world's No. 1-ranked player. "I don't know what goes on here," Price said after the round. "I wish someone would tell me. I'm as perplexed as anyone else."
David Leadbetter, Price's swing coach (and his housemate last week), thinks Price's difficulties lie between his ears. Since 1986, when Price set the Augusta National course record with a third-round 63, he has had as many rounds in the 60s as in the 80s (two). He finished sixth in '92 but has missed the cut twice since. He is 43 over par in 32 Masters rounds. "Certain courses suit certain players, and in theory this one should suit Nick," Lead-better says. "But you have to apply a lot of patience. Nick is very aggressive, and aggression here is not always the hallmark of success. I think he's got to prepare himself better mentally to score here."
Jay Haas didn't know whether it was an omen or a prank, but on Friday morning at the house he was renting in rural Martinez, Ga., he found a bloodied 50-pound beaver lying dead on the hood of his white Cadillac. "There's a pond by where we're staying, and I guess late at night somebody ran over it and thought it would be a good joke to flip it on the first car he saw," Haas said.
Haas, his wife, Jan, and their 12-year-old son, Billy, loaded the animal into a garbage bag and, on the way to the course, dropped it off at a local dump. After Jay shot 64 to take the second-round lead, the Haases decided the beaver had brought them luck. "I guess I'm gonna have to get a volunteer to go to the dump and look for it," Jan said.
Hal Sutton's week at Augusta seemed promising enough on Wednesday morning, but the tables turned that afternoon when Sutton found himself in a playoff in the Par-3 Contest with David Edwards after both had shot four-under 23s. When Edwards bogeyed the third extra hole and Sutton parred it, Sutton received the winner's crystal chalice, the most shunned trophy in golf.
No Par-3 winner had ever gone on to win the real tournament, but Sutton, who hadn't won on the PGA Tour since 1986 and whose best finish in 11 Masters had been a 27th in 1983, looked on the bright side. "It's good to have something from Augusta," he said, fully aware that the possibility of that something being a green jacket was already slipping away.