In the field

Monday, April 13, 2009
By Matt Middleton
Staff Writer

SHINGO SHINES: Searching for words to explain how much fun he had Saturday at the Masters Tournament, Shingo Katayama compared his 2-under round with the beauty of the sky.

It was just as blissful a day later, when Katayama shot 68 to finish alone in fourth at 10-under. He had never finished better than 27th in seven Masters appearances.

Katayama excited the crowds by playing with a showman's flair: sinking long putts for birdies and celebrating with enthusiasm. On his final hole Sunday, he removed his signature cowboy hat and saluted the crowd after sinking his fifth birdie of the round.

"I know that I have a lot of bitter experiences to this point, (but) I think that my practice really pays off," he said through an interpreter.

Katayama's finish was his best in a major. He tied for fourth in the 2001 PGA Championship won by David Toms . The 36-year-old Japanese pro had the best finish of any Asian in this year's tournament.

"I'm hoping that the Japanese golf, too, will be coming forward in the world," he said.

PADDY SLAMMED: For the first time in three major championships, Padraig Harrington hasn't claimed victory.

Harrington shot his third consecutive 73 on Sunday to finish at even-par and in a tie for 35th, the first Masters in three years that he has failed to finish in the top 10.

"I'll have the same pressure on me now for the next three majors," said Harrington, as talk of a "Paddy Slam" has now been extinguished. "Each one has its own (pressure) -- just trying to win a major brings its own pressure, so that's enough to bear without adding more to it."

Harrington's weekend adventures continued in the final round when he shot seven on the par-4 ninth after his tee shot got stuck in a tree. He called it "a particularly common thing to happen in golf."

"The rest of the round, (I) was just watching the leaderboard, watching everybody else play," Harrington said.

He rallied to shoot 34 on the final nine holes.

NO REGRETS FOR CASEY: Because he won last week in windy Houston and because the winds were howling in the days leading up to the Masters, Paul Casey was considered a real contender to win England's first green jacket since Nick Faldo did it in 1996.

Casey had disappeared with three pedestrian rounds before Sunday: 72-72-73. He did better during the final round, with 69. He finished 2-under for the tournament, which tied him for 20th. Casey had finished in the top 11 at the Masters the past two years.

Casey said fatigue was a factor in his performance, but he doesn't regret playing at Houston.

"I was in a dilemma ... trying to find a golf course that suits my game," he said. "Houston was a suggestion, so I threw that one in and took out Bay Hill. It's a difficult one, isn't it? Because I feel if I had a bit more in the tank this week I might have been able to challenge."

Casey said he would play Houston again next year to defend his title.

"That's the thing you have to do," he said.

BEST EFFORT FROM VILLEGAS: Camilo Villegas , the 10th-ranked player in the world, shot his second 69 of the tournament to surge into a tie for 13th, assuring he will be back for next year's tournament. Villegas had missed the cut in his two previous trips to Augusta National.

He had one of two eagles on No. 15 on Sunday, the highlight of a final-nine 33.

"It was a great week and it was good ball-striking and I'm getting better at this place," he said.

SERGIO CRITICIZES COURSE: Another poor Masters showing by Sergio Garcia led the Spaniard to criticize the course after his final round.

"I don't like" the course, he said in an interview with The Golf Channel. "It's too tricky. I don't think it's fair."

Garcia shot 74 on Sunday to finish tied for 38th in his 11th Masters start. Garcia has two top-10 finishes at Augusta National but has finished 38th or worse eight times, including four missed cuts.

Asked what changes he would recommend for the course, Garcia shrugged and said, "They can do whatever they want with it. I just come and play."

IMMELMAN CLOSES STRONG: Defending champion Trevor Immelman was in Butler Cabin on Sunday night presenting the green jacket to Angel Cabrera after shooting his best round of the weekend (69) to finished tied for 20th.

He had just one bogey in the final round, at No. 4, and played the first nine holes below par for the first time this tournament.

"(On Sunday), it (was) a different feeling," he said. "I'm trying to go out there and shoot as low as I can, whereas last year I was just really concentrating on one shot and just trying to survive out there, really."

MIZE FINISHES WITH 72: Larry Mize, the 1987 Masters champion, shot his second consecutive 72 to finish at 1-under for the tournament and tied for 30th, his best result since 2000.

"It's obviously encouraging to come here and play this well here," said Mize, who plays on the Champions Tour.

The 50-year-old said he will play in the tour's event in Savannah, Ga., in two weeks.

HE'LL BE BACK: Todd Hamilton earned a spot in next year's Masters even though he finished with his worst round of the tournament, 73. He tied for 15th with Geoff Ogilvy at 5-under.

Hamilton's five-year exemption into the Masters from his 2004 British Open win ended this year. The top 16 and ties automatically receive an invitation to next year's tournament.

Hamilton started the day at 6-under and made eight consecutive pars to open his round. He never got above 6-under Sunday.