Police in Augusta are warning Masters Tournament ticket-holders to guard their ‘patrons badges’ closely, after a local carpenter allegedly broke into a hotel room and stole four coveted tickets.
Macie Hallman (27) was arrested on Monday trying to sell the badges for $350, later admitting he had waited for two guests to leave their room before breaking a window.
Deputies recovered the tickets and returned them to the owners, police said.
The badges are hot currency on the streets of the sprawling Georgia city which comes to life every year during Masters week. But it’s a criminal offence to ‘tout’ tickets, known as ‘scalping’ in the US.
However, on the roads leading to the course dozens of signs are held up offering ‘ top dollar for Masters badges’ for which there is a 20-year waiting list for a chance to obtain one for the week.
One London-based Australian in 2000, having watched the early rounds on TV was so excited, he took a flight to Atlanta and a bus to Augusta, purchased a ticket from a patron leaving early for £300 and saw the last nine holes on the Sunday.
Thunderstorms and showers are forecast for the Augusta area this week – and that could be good news for the competitors in the US Masters.
As players stepped out for early practice rounds, Steve Stricker, the former World Matchplay champion, reported the greens already had a yellow sheen and were so crusty he could hear his spikes crunch as he walked on them.
Tiger Woods, who played the front nine on Monday with Mark O'Meara, said, with tongue firmly in his cheek, that he thought the greens were running about ’13 or 14’ on the Stimpmeter.
Local favourite Charles Howell III, who was at college in Augusta, watched a greenkeeper mowing one of the greens on Sunday and said he saw that no grass clippings were going into the mower’s basket.
"Just making sure,'' the maintenance worker told him.
One reason the greens are so firm now is that with the forecast predicting rain later in the week, soft greens will be a recipe for lower scoring.
Chris DiMarco, he of the claw putting grip, practising with PGA champion David Toms, described them as ‘blues’.
"It was like, 'How many blues did you hit today?’ Because those greens aren't really green.''
Robert Allenby, confirmed it. He hit what looked like a perfect shot out of the front bunker right of the par-3 16th.
By the time he climbed out, the ball had crept toward the ridge and rolled to the bottom half of the green just short of the pond.
"Lee Janzen looked over and said, 'What a great shot.' Thirty seconds later, it was nearly in the water,'' said an astonished Allenby.
Scotsman Sandy Lyle, the champion in 1988, walked straight to the first tee on Sunday after only seconds on the practice putting green.
Said playing partner Bob Estes: "He had the equivalent of a 15-footer for birdie, and a 25-footer for bogey!''