AUGUSTA, Ga. — Does Tiger Woods work out too hard and need to focus on more golf-specific training?
That is a popular subject at the Augusta National Golf Club, where Woods will miss the Masters for the first time in 20 years because of back surgery.
Rory McIlroy, who has reshaped his physique with a more dedicated workout regimen, said golfers have to be careful to do exercises that are specific to the game and not train merely to be a better athlete. He was not talking specifically about Woods, but his comments easily could have been directed at the world’s No. 1 player and four-time Masters champion.
Woods is a workout fanatic whose regimen is so extreme that his former swing coach, Hank Haney, worried years ago that he was training too hard and would damage his game.
“We have to remember that we’re golfers and, first and foremost, that’s what we do,” said McIlroy, the No. 2 player in the world. “It’s about getting the ball in the hole. So, if I can run 100 meters in 101⁄2 seconds, does that make me a better golfer? No. It obviously makes me a better athlete.
“But I think there are certain things that you do for your golf swing, there’s certain things that you do for your game in the gym that can help.
“I think sometimes your enthusiasm has to be contained a little bit because you’ve got to think about your health, and, ultimately, what we do is play golf, and there’s only a certain level of fitness you need for that.”
NFL boss in the house
Augusta National’s newest member — NFL commissioner Roger Goodell — was standing outside the clubhouse, wearing his green jacket and enjoying a brief visit to the Masters.
Goodell, a 7-handicap, was admitted as a member in the fall, but said he doesn’t get to play golf much.
Is that because of his role as leader of the highest-profile sports league in the world?
“No, because I have twin 12-year-old daughters,” Goodell said.
Steven Bowditch, one of two Australian players to win their first PGA Tour event in back-to-back weeks, has a connection to Western Pennsylvania.
Bowditch’s wife, Amanda, is the daughter of South Hills natives and Baldwin High School graduates Mike and Joyce Yarussi, who moved to Dallas a number of years ago. Mike Yarussi was a passionate golfer who passed away in October 2010 — 11 months before his daughter married Bowditch.
Bowditch won the Texas Open two weeks ago to earn his first invitation to the Masters. He is part of a seven-player Australian contingent at the Masters that expanded when Bowditch and countrymen John Senden (Valspar Championship) and Matt Every (Arnold Palmer Invitational) won three of the past four PGA Tour events.
Bowditch’s reaction when he first arrived at Augusta National?
“The first thing that came to mind is a police officer pulled out in front of me, and I thought, ‘Man, don’t crash on Magnolia Lane,’” Bowditch said.
Restoration put on hold
Augusta National chairman Billy Payne said the club does not have a definitive plan to replace the Eisenhower Tree on the 17th hole and will wait until after this tournament before making a decision.
The Eisenhower Tree, named for former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, was removed in the winter after it was damaged in an ice storm.
The loblolly pine was on the left side of the 17th fairway and caused players to alter their tee shots.
“It represented one of our most important links to President Eisenhower,” Payne said in his State of the Masters address.
“We will examine play and scoring this week and will make a decision. We will take our time and, hopefully, get it right.”
Gerry Dulac: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @gerrydulac.