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Sour Note

Masters 2023: Jason Kokrak rips Augusta National’s ‘chickensh—’ handling of former champion’s farewell

April 08, 2023
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Christian Petersen

AUGUSTA, Ga. — The chill in the air Saturday morning at Augusta National Golf Club did nothing to cool down Jason Kokrak’s mood after he needed all of two minutes to complete his second round in the Masters.

Kokrak doubled down on heated statements he made Friday afternoon after play was suspended with his group that included 1988 Masters champion Sandy Lyle and Talor Gooch on the 18th green.

“I absolutely stand by what I said yesterday. What they did was, in my mind, inexcusable,” the 37-year-old Ohioan said after completing a seven-over 79 and missing the cut at eight-over 152. “To not be able to find a way to let Sandy Lyle walk off that green with his family there and people around to send him off properly … I thought that was wrong. It would have taken a minute to just let him finish by himself.”

Lyle, 65, was competing for the final time in the Masters, ending a run of 42 appearances. The native of Scotland faced a 12-footer for par when play was suspended for a second time Friday at 4:22 p.m. EDT and eventually was halted for the rest of the day. Trees that fell near the 17th green caused the suspension.

On the 18th green, Kokrak, who was left with a 20-footer for par, had words for a Masters official.

“I said, ‘It’s chicken sh--. It could have been a really cool moment for Sandy Lyle, his family, the patrons, Augusta National, being the ’88 champion,” Kokrak told Golf.com Friday. “Him and Larry being their last Masters. I asked them for a special exemption. They said they weren’t even going to blow the horn for a few more minutes, but the trees came down on 17.

“I said this is a moment that he’s not going to get again. So I think Augusta National and the rules committee should be ashamed of themselves. And I’m really disappointed for him and his family for him not to be able to have that moment.”

Lyle two-putted his final green when play resumed Saturday morning at 8 a.m. to complete an 83. He finished last among players who completed 36 holes at 164. He was philosophical about the unfortunate ending to his Masters playing career.

“We tried to talk to the official that, you know, please, let us finish. But, no, they stuck to the rules and rules are rules and we had to abide by that,” said Lyle, who used a gold replica Ping putter for his last two strokes, one that resembled the putter he used to win his green jacket in ’88. He said spent the late hours last night drinking tequila, “and and a bit of whiskey tasting at about 1 o'clock this morning.”

Kokrak, 87th in the world, lingered at the back of the Augusta clubhouse for several minutes, even as rain fell more heavily and he was without an umbrella. He was thinking of his own future of Augusta as well.

“It might be my last Masters, too, you never know,” he said. “If the majors think the best players in the world ought to compete, then they should find a way to include them in the future. So we’ll see. I might not be back.”