Baby sit? McDonald’s run? Thomas there for Tiger

Jordan Spieth runs across the tributary to Rae’s Creek to the 13th green during his practice round for the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on Tuesday, April 6, 2021, in Augusta. Rae's Creek winds through the National at Amen Corner, the famous stretch of holes that is often instrumental in deciding the Masters winner. A tributary runs up the left side of the 13th fairway and in front of the green.  Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com
Jordan Spieth runs across the tributary to Rae’s Creek to the 13th green during his practice round for the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on Tuesday, April 6, 2021, in Augusta. Rae's Creek winds through the National at Amen Corner, the famous stretch of holes that is often instrumental in deciding the Masters winner. A tributary runs up the left side of the 13th fairway and in front of the green. Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

AUGUSTA — Tiger Woods is missing the Masters — and some of his competitors are also feeling his absence.

Woods, the five-time champion, won’t play the Masters this year after a suffering multiple fractures to his right leg and a shattered right ankle in a roll-over auto accident in California in February. He is at home recovering and has gotten several in-person visits from Justin Thomas.

“We texted Friday morning, and he said it’s kind of starting to set in,” Thomas said Tuesday. “He’s bummed he’s not here playing practice rounds with us, and we hate it, too.”

Thomas has become a practice-round partner with Fred Couples and Woods. Thomas said those pre-tournament sessions will be greatly missed. Thomas did get to watch some basketball with Woods recently and has checked in from time to time to let Woods know he is available.

“I remember when I was out a month and a half for my wrists, I felt so down because I had never been out because of an injury, and I remember the people that reached out to me and checked on me, see how I was doing,” Thomas said. “I didn’t need a call every single day, but hey, how is it going, want to see how you’re feeling. It meant a lot because it’s easy to get down on yourself when you’re out for a little bit.

“That’s just what I want to do for him, is just be like, dude, I’ll do anything you want. If you need me to help out with your kids, I can do that. If you want me to bring you — if you’re craving McDonald’s and you want me to bring it over, dude, I don’t care, I’m here for you and I’ll help out however I can.”

Rory McIlroy said he spent several hours visiting Woods several weeks ago.

“It was good to see him in decent spirits and actually not as, you know — like when you hear of these things and you look at the car and you see the crash, it’s like, you think he’s going to be in a hospital bed for six months. But he was actually doing better than that.”

Mickelson the dessert expert

Phil Mickelson knows his Australian desserts. He related a humorous story from Adam Scott’s Champions Dinner where he got a chance to show off his culinary knowledge.

Scott served pavlova to end his dinner in 2014, a years after his victory. Mickelson took the opportunity to explain that the meringue-based dish with fruit and whipped cream was inspired by Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova after a tour of Australia and New Zealand. A chef was so inspired that he named his creation after her.

Mickelson said former chairman Billy Payne was taken aback. Zach Johnson offered to bet he was making up the story.

Turns out this time, Mickelson was serious.

“My daughter was a dancer, and she wrote a biography on Anna Pavlova, and I made 32 pavlovas for her class when she was a little girl, and I knew this,” Mickelson said. “And I ended up, you know, being right, which is not often, but I was right on that particular moment.”

Champions dinner

Dustin Johnson hosted the Champions Dinner after his victory in 2020. The menu:

Appetizers: Pigs in a blanket and lobster and corn fritters.

Salads: House salad and Caesar salad.

Main course: Filet mignon and sea bass with mashed potatoes and vegetables.

Dessert: Peach cobbler and apple pie with ice cream.

Elder honored

Lee Elder was awarded an honorary doctorate degree for lifetime achievement from Paine College on Tuesday. Elder, the first Black player to compete in the Masters, was honored with a reception. The degree, in recognition of his “extraordinary contributions to humanity,” was conferred in December with a virtual commencement convocation because of the coronavirus pandemic. The college re-enacted the occasion with a hooding ceremony.

“At the heart of this gathering is the goal of recognizing a true American hero who defied the odds of poverty, lack of access, and extreme hostile racial barriers, one who emerged as a role model for millions of young people throughout the world,” said Michael Thurmond, chairman of the Paine College board of trustees, in a statement. “Lee Elder demonstrated how the power of faith, hard work, raw determination, and staying the course can impact one’s life. Now more than ever, our communities need role models such as Lee Elder.”

At last year’s Masters, in November, Augusta National Golf Club invited Elder to serve as an honorary starter for the 2021 Masters. He will join Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player to officially open the tournament Thursday. Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley also announced the establishment of endowed scholarships in honor of Elder and underwrite 100% of a new women’s golf program at Paine College.

The bar is set high

Jon Rahm will be playing in the Masters after his wife gave birth earlier in the week. McIlroy had the same experience last year when his wife delivered the couple’s first child just before the Tour Championship at East Lake.

Rahm and McIlroy will be in the same group for the first two rounds Thursday and Friday.

“My first round as a dad, I shot 64, so he’s got that to live up to,” McIlroy joked.

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