Augusta National Media Centre 8.30pm (Masters time) Sunday April 8

MH It?s good night from him and it?s good night for me. I?m going out in a blaze of glory with a list of the Top 10 things I loved about the Masters

1. Seeing in the flesh what has to be the most perfect golf course in the world.

2. Witnessing a genuine European challenge for a Major ? good effort to all concerned and better luck next time boys

3. Being so excited by it all on Wednesday that I had to sit down and collect my thoughts

4. Southern hospitality ? it might sound clichéd but it sure beats the surly service we get back home

5. Getting carried away in the pro?s shop and buying far too much Masters merchandise

6. The fact Neil managed not to mow anyone down in the GM car this week ? believe me there were several close calls.

7. Having breakfast in the clubhouse surrounded by a gaggle of Major Champions.

8. The snacks in the media centre. Favourite being the ?breakfast biscuit? (a sort of scone filled with sausage and egg) followed by the Masters club sandwich which was in fact presented in a burger bun.

9. Being led astray by Bill Elliott and discovering the joys of JD and ginger at the Irish Tourist Board party.

10. Sitting in the observation tower overlooking 18 and seeing the winning putt be holed?even if it was by Zach Johnson.

Augusta National Media Centre 8.10pm (Masters time) Sunday April 8

NT As I write my final entry to the 2007 Masters GM blog I can?t help but feel a twinge of sadness. The past week has been filled with moments, like bumping into Arnold Palmer in the clubhouse and seeing the majesty of Amen Corner in the flesh, that will live with me forever. Tomorrow we come back down to earth as we leave this incredible theatre and head for London.

That it?s Zach Johnson and not Justin Rose whom we?ll be toasting tonight is of course slightly disappointing. I?m told by some other journalists that Justin was pretty upset as he sat in the locker room immediately after the round. Let?s hope that what happened on 17 doesn?t leave a lasting mark. I?ve just returned to my desk after sitting in on the winner?s press conference. He might not be everyone?s favourite Masters champ but Zach Johnson was very humble and remarkably gracious in victory. Wearing his brand new Green Jacket (size 40 reg) he looked just as shocked as the press that he?d managed to hold off Tiger and make his mark on the biggest stage of all.

Having now seen the course at first hand and the questions it asks of a players mental strength, especially through the back nine, it is clearer to me now than ever before that you can?t just stumble across the Masters title, you have to win it. That?s exactly what Zach Johnson did ? whether he kicks on to become a major power in golf is, at this moment irrelevant.

Augusta National Media Centre 7.30pm (Masters time) Sunday April 8

MH So, there you have it Zach Johnson is the 2007 Masters Champion. I?m delighted for my mate back home who will have trousered a few hundred quid but I have to say in the end it was a bit of an anti-climax. Neil and I had gone back out to the observation post and watched the last three groups play 18. The real drama came from watching the scoreboard at 18 being updated especially when Johnson bogeyed 17 and Rose birdied 16. At that point I was beginning to get a little over excited thinking how lucky it was that I hadn?t yet send the front cover and that we could do a big European victory splash.

In the end I hope you?ll forgive me for not putting Zachary on the front cover of the June issue. Neil has just gone it to the press conference to hear what the Champ has to say for himself. He’ll report back but expect the good Lord to be heavily praised for his contributions. I?m off for a beer and to count my losses.

Augusta National Media Centre 5.30pm (Masters time) Sunday April 8

MH This is incredible stuff. I got in about an hour ago from an extended stint on the observation post between 9 and 18 where we saw all sorts going on (from Donald?s 7 to Goosen?s missed 5 footer) but now watching the back 9 it turns out that my earlier viewing was merely the scotch egg (appetiser) to the pork tenderloin (main course) that?s unfolding now.

I have just been on the phone to one of my friends back in the UK who has money on Zach Johnson at 125/1. He asked me for a few a few tips a week or so ago and apparently Zach was one of my picks. Johnson is one of my regular punts in PGA Tour events but I pick this week or all weeks not to back him.

Harrington who I lumped on in desperation this morning looks my only remaining hope after his magnificent eagle at 15. Talking of eagles, Tiger has just made an outrageous 3 at 13. I thin I need a lie down or a beer at least. The later it is?

Augusta National Media Centre 1.00pm (Masters time) Sunday April 8

MH No sooner had Neil disappeared than he reappeared wearing a resigned look. I though he might have nipped to the practice ground and seen Tim Clark dunching a few chips but it was worse, much worse.

We have not made the ballot to play the course tomorrow. Apparently only one European journalist came out, Nick Greenslade from the Observer.

However we can?t wallow in self pity there?s a plan B to be made so I?m off to google ?golf courses near Charlotte? in the hope we can get a round on before our flight back tomorrow evening.

Augusta National Media Centre 12.50 pm (Masters time) Sunday April 8

MH As you can see from the picture that now accompanies this story, Neil and I have been in tourist mode (again) this morning.

We took advantage of the fact that Getty Images? snapper Andy Redington wasn?t yet out on the course to cajole him into taking some pics of us two outside the front of the clubhouse.

Then, to pass the time before the main contenders tee off, Tappers and I have been placing some more bets in the hope we can cover some of our loses to date.

You could almost smell the desperation when Neil announced he?s waged a fiver each way on Tim Clark at 50/1. I did point out the fact he was at such seemingly attractive odds was down to the fact he had a third round of 80 (the worst of any player in the top 10) and has a bit of reputation for being afraid of chipping as probable reasons why he wont be bringing home the bacon.

Neil looked a bit crestfallen at my hatchet job on his man and announced he was off to his favourite spot alongside the 1st green to watch the action.

Augusta National Media Centre 12.35pm (Masters time) Sunday April 8

NT One of the things I love most about the final day of a major golf tournament is how anticipation and excitement build through the morning. By watching the early action you can gage how things might pan out during the afternoon, evaluate the challenges the players will face and make a few last minute bets (Jim Furyk £5 e/w at 33/1).

I?ve just arrived back in the press centre after watching those lower down in the field plot their way through the first hole. A tough pin placement on the front left corner was the main reason for there being far more bogeys than pars – I watched eight groups go through and didn?t see a single birdie.

Changing the subject slightly, I?d now like to talk about scotch eggs. Bill had previously been to the restaurant that we were booked in at last night and advised me to order the scotch egg starter. What Bill says goes, so I turned down the mussels in champagne cream in favour of this popular picnic snack. It was a great decision – a warm scotch egg with a sweet, spicy sauce. Exquisite. Also good were the Basil Hayden bourbons we drank before blagging yet another lift home when the taxi failed to turn up. Looking back I suspect it was the bourbon and not the scotch egg that is making me feel slightly fuzzy.

Augusta National Media Centre 10.20am (Masters time) Sunday April 8

NT Morning all. It?s 10.20am here and I can report that there is a marked improvement in the weather. It?s still pretty cold but the wind that made conditions so unfriendly (for players and spectators alike) has dropped completely. Whilst the course is still extremely hard and fast, no one here is expecting the sort of massacre we saw yesterday.

As you may already know, you can?t just buy tickets for the Masters from a box office as you would at any other golf tournament. Things are done slightly differently around here – there is an enormous waiting list for tickets that has been closed since 2000. The good news is, for anyone on that waiting list, once you finally get your hands on a ticket you can keep it for as many years as you like. All this means that there are plenty of frustrated punters desperate to join the party but without an invitation. So valuable are they that some patrons sell on their tickets privately to make a fast buck. I was somewhat surprised to see an advert on the Golf Channel last night for a man who acts as a third party in the exchange of these golden tickets. ?If you?re looking to sell golf tickets call Mr. Edwards ? he assures confidentiality.? This takes ticket touting to a whole new level – Sir Alan Sugar would be impressed.

Augusta National Media Centre 7.25pm (Masters time) Saturday April 7

MH I have just returned from a trip to the Getty Images room located deep in the bowels of the Media Centre. It?s a real hive of activity in there with runners coming in and out carrying digital memory cards from the snappers out on the course. The cards get dumped in a little tupperware box from where the two picture editors Rebecca and Scott download the images, have the images cropped and colour corrected before adding captions and uploading them to the Getty website for the journos upstairs or picture editors all over the world to access. Technology is great isn?t it!

It was quite a profitable trip for me because Marc Webbon can?t help but offer bets for missed or made putts. Webbo backed Zach Johnson to hole out and thankfully, for me at least the putt slipped by. Rest assured I?ll spend my five bucks wisely tonight.

Augusta National Media Centre 6.55pm (Masters time) Saturday April 7

NT It?s going to be a sleepless night. After years of waiting and yearning, we?re finally in with a realistic chance. Of course, I?m not talking about celebrating a British major winner. No, instead I?m referring to my prospects of playing Augusta National. Having previously told us that they would do the draw this afternoon they cruelly changed this age-old tradition and will instead announce the results tomorrow. I feel as if I?m hovering on the cut mark waiting to see if Tiger makes a birdie at the last to implement the 10 shot rule and send me packing.

Back to the Masters and I?d like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Bradley Dredge. Mike and I were sitting in the bleachers to the left of the 18th green this afternoon when Paul Casey?s name was replaced on the leaderboard with that of Dredge. As if from nowhere the man from Cardiff was in contention. The quality of his performance proves that finishing 15th at the Madeira Island Open is an excellent way to prepare for Augusta.

Augusta National Media Centre 6.25pm (Masters time) Saturday April 7

MH Glory be it?s cold out there. We have been back in the hutch for half an hour and despite having a coffee and hot dog with generous lashings of hot pepper sauce my ears are still tingling. I really don?t think Neil and I helped our cause by insisting on sitting at the top of the observation stand that sits between the 9th and 18th greens. The wind was really whipping across and in fact blew off a fellow journo?s hat into the crowd below. Apparently the chap had caused a commotion earlier by dropping his clipboard off the side and almost braining a steward.

During my walk round following the Rose/Howell match I got talking to Justin?s coach Nick Bradley. Turns out Nick grew up where I now live and was an assistant pro at the course I now play at. He?s certainly come a long way since he was selling Mars bars to members at Home Park GC in Kingston. Nick is now based at the fantastically named Barefoot Creek in Myrtle Beach and alongside his coaching work with Justin advises Nike on club development. He?s also about to release a new book. His excellent first book ?The 7 Laws of the Golf Swing? was ground breaking in its use of imagery and graphics and Nick tells me the next one will be even more innovative. Definitely one to watch out for if you?re into your golf instruction.

Back to the action and it seems like everyone but Stuart Appleby is really struggling out there and those players who made it in with decent rounds earlier are just sat back watching themselves tick up the scoreboard as those above them let shots slip away. Lee Westwood is a great case in point. Yesterday he bogeyed the last three holes to loo like he?d miss the cut. He just scraped in and today shot an even par 72 and is now tied for 21st! Retief Goosen?s two under par 70 has him T11. Right now I can?t see the winning score being below par. I think we?re in for a really exciting day tomorrow.

I sign off from this entry with the news that someone called Randy Cheapes (or it could have been Randy Cheeks) has been summoned over the PA to go to reception. Names like that makes Mike Harris and Neil Tappin seem very boring indeed.

Augusta National Media Centre 5.40pm (Masters time) Saturday April 7

NT Mike and I have just returned to the press centre after spending a couple of hours following Justin Rose and David Howell. Whilst David came unstuck on the seventh thanks to a wayward drive that ended up next to the root of a tree, Justin seems to be holding it together nicely. Seeing him at close quarters I was struck by just how good a shot maker he is.

In this fearsome wind he controlled his ball as well as anyone I?ve seen ? far better than Tiger. So far this week I think we?ve seen Rose at his best. Furthermore, if he makes it into the last group tomorrow I reckon he?s got the mental strength to handle the pressure.

Augusta National Media Centre 3.10pm (Masters time) Saturday April 7

MH The ballot to play the course on Monday was closing as Neil and I walked into the Media Centre just now. And, standing at from desk with a big Cheshire Cat grin was Marc Webbon from photo agency Getty Images. Webbo has been the official drinking buddy of Golf Monthly this week and when we were out with him last night he was sweating on being allowed to put his name in from the draw. But he?s in and like Neil and I will be feeling the butterflies ahead of the draw being posted later this evening. We?ll update you on our success or lack of it later.

With Marc a Liverpool fan and me and Evertonian there?s always an exchange of banter and I know if he gets in and we don?t I?ll never hear the end of it.

We?re just back in for a quick sandwich and a warming cup of coffee ? its really is still very cold out there ? before heading out again to see David Howell and Justin Rose hopefully build solid rounds.

On our earlier stroll we watched, among others, Rory Sabattini make very heavy weather of the 1st, Trevor Immelman’s rapid descent to the foot of the leaderboard with a car crash of a four jab at 8 and Paul Casey and Tiger birdie the 2nd and 3rd holes respectively.

Augusta National Media Centre 12.10 pm (Masters time) Saturday April 7

MH Picking up on the food thread of Neil?s entry below I?m going to report back on the incidents surrounding the delicious breakfast we have just had in the clubhouse.

Bill Elliott had been urging Neil and I to make sure we took advantage of our access to the inner sanctum and had the first meal of the day in there at least once during the week so with the later start today we did just that.

For lunch on Thursday we had eaten in the bustling downstairs Grill Room but today ventured up the circular wooden stairs to smaller dinning room filled with lots of club history including a set of Dwight Eisenhower?s clubs which I can report were a pretty fearsome set of blades. The Pres must have been a pretty decent ball striker in his day if he could use them.

On the table opposite us were Phil Mickelson?s coaches, Dave Peltz and Rick Smith. No big deal but then in walked Phil who sat down for a quick pep talk before announcing he was heading back out to for some work on the putting green. Just them my sensational waffle turned up which had a ball and club motif etched into its surface. A nice touch only bettered by the butter that was presented in little balls with a dimple texture on them

to make them look like miniature Titleists!

Thankfully we managed to get through the rest of breakfast without being disturbed by any other Major winners. However, as we got up to leave normal service was resumed as we walked out past Ian Woosnam and DJ Russell, then Jose Maria Olazabal came striding out of the Champions Locker Room and followed us down the stairs armed his putter and a sleeve of balls. This was like being involved in some mad golf dream. And as a veteran of many golf dreams I have to say this was up there with the best of them.

However as we walked out of the clubhouse and were hit by the unseasonably chill air (sorry Neil for treading on your toes and mentioning the weather there) I had to conclude that undeniably great though this dream was it couldn?t quite manage to usurp my favourite which involved me being selected for the European Ryder Cup team. I?m sure you?re keen to hear what happened so here goes.

I had been paired with Darren Clarke for the Friday morning fourballs and felt in good form on the Belfry?s range. Just then it started to drizzle and I discovered I didn?t have any waterproofs in my bag so I told DC I?d see him on the tee headed off to the pro shop. Having selected a pair of black Pro Quip trousers and paid for them tried to get them on over my shoes. But, no matter how hard I tried to pull them over my FootJoys I couldn?t get them on. Time was ticking on and my panic was rising I heard the starter send out a message for me.

?Why didn?t you take your shoes off?? I hear you say. It?s a fair question and I wished I?d thought of it but I didn?t and I struggled round hoping round the pro shop like John Cleese yanking at the waistband on the waterproofs. Eventually something gave and I got them on.

As I ran down to the tee I saw Darren cutting a dejected figure as he walked up the 1st fairway behind his two American opponents. At that point I woke up and felt very disappointed that I?d blown such a great opportunity.

Augusta National Media Centre 12.05pm (Masters time) Saturday April 7

NT Before arriving on Monday I hadn?t really given much thought to Augusta the town. From my limited experience it seems that golf isn?t as central to its? identity as it is at, say, St Andrews. I suspect that on Monday Augusta will go back to being a typical southern American town and the golf club will continue to lead a very private existence.

There is one main dual carriageway called Washington Road that dissects Augusta and when I asked Bill Elliott how to cross it by foot he replied, ?I don?t think anyone ever has.? Steak houses, barbeque joints, sports bars, waffle houses and Christian bookshops flank the road giving it a muddled appearance as you drive through. It looks cluttered and messy at first but soon this starts to become its? charm, beautifully contrasting the absolute perfection of the golf course.

The people here are probably the friendliest I?ve ever met. They seem genuinely chuffed that we?ve made the trip from blighty to experience their annual fanfare. Twice, when asking for a number to phone a cab after dinner, random people whom we?ve never spoken to have offered us a lift home. Naturally, being from London, we look at them as if they are wearing their underpants on the outside of their trousers. But last night we accepted the offer from a bloke called Sam whose fiancée had just served us in The Lone Star Grill. After taking Mike and I back to our bungalow, he drove 20 minutes across the other side to town to return the third member of our dining party.

Augusta National Media Centre 8.45pm (Masters time) Friday April 6

NT So here we are at the halfway point. Who would have thought that only three players would be under par? That Els, Garcia and DiMarco would miss the cut? That Tiger Woods would have an air shot? The fact that the tournament has been utterly unpredictable is scant consolation for the pain caused by haemorrhaging money on ill-advised bets ? Mike and I are significantly poorer now than we were on Thursday morning.

Oh well, it may be hard to see them right now but there are positives to take away. Justin Rose shares the lead ? throughout his round today he showed the sort of mental strength that will serve him well come the weekend. David Howell, Padraig Harrington, Luke Donald and Paul Casey are in the mix. Tiger is struggling, opening up the event to Europe?s best.

More importantly however, tomorrow sees the result of the press ballot to play Augusta National on Monday (every member of the press can enter the ballot and those in the know reckon each person has a one in five chance of making it into the field). Both Mike and I are desperately hoping to emerge victorious. I?d like to make it known that if I make it through the ballot I will allow Mike the honour of donning a boiler suit and carrying my bag. It will be a proud moment for us both.

Augusta National Media Centre 5.00pm (Masters time) Friday April 6

MH I think Neil is developing a bit of a weather fixation, goodness only knows how he?ll react if the forecasted frost occurs on Saturday night. While John Ketley jnr has been observing meteorological conditions I have been studying the leaderboard and getting very worried about how well Henrik Stenson is playing. I have nothing personal against the long hitting Swede however on Wednesday night I made a very ill advised bet with the MD or TaylorMade that Stenson would miss the cut. We settled on a pound a place either side of the chop mark and I?m currently looking like I?ll be sending a sizeable cheque to TaylorMade HQ when I get home.

The Stenson punt aside I have been checking up on the progress of my other bets and can report back as follows. (Words in brackets explains my thinking)

David Howell (loyalty to our playing editor/reckons Augusta is his best chance of a major) 145 +1 ? handily placed

Vijay Singh (former champion, putting better since switching back to belly putter) 144 level ? looking very good

Trevor Immelman (owes me big time after I had him at 150/1 in last years Wachovia and he three jacked the 72nd to drop into a play off with Furyk then blew that too) 151 +7 ? should scrape in on the 10 shot rule unlikely to make me any richer.

Ian Poulter (good short game, great outfits) 150 +6 ? ditto as above

Ernie Els(got the QT on Wednesday that he was hitting it better than ever in the practice) +7 thru 9 ? really not looking too clever

Chad Campbell (read in Golf Digest that he was leading birdie scorer at last years event) +7 thru 11 ? needs to start making some of those birdies

Robert Karlsson (had £2.38 left in my account) 150 +6 ? should have left the 2.38 in there.

I really think I need to rethink this scattergun approach to gambling. As one of the other writers said to me when I reeled off all my bets ? I?d have probably been better putting all the cash I staked on the above on Tiger to win. He might well have had a point.

Augusta National Media Centre 1.30pm (Masters time) Friday April 6

NT I?ve just returned to the media centre having stood in on an impromptu press conference with Tiger as he walked off the final green – if you catch it on telly I?m the one standing next to the big man wearing a yellow t-shirt and a gormless expression. Tiger mentioned that whilst yesterday he threw away a good score, today he turned a round of 90 into a 74. Apparently, he?s having real problems hitting the draw that is so crucial to a good score around here. I expect him to work hard on the range this evening.

The cold weather that came as such a shock this morning is now just a distant memory. The temperature is perfect out there now ? a cooling light breeze ensuring that it?s not uncomfortably hot. As far as I know the current weather is set to remain for the rest of the week. If it, does the shorter hitters that are fairing well (Tim Clark, Jerry Kelly, Zach Johnson and Vaughan Taylor) will continue to enjoy the themselves.

Augusta National Media Centre 1.30pm (Masters time) Friday April 6

NT As Mike was nursing his hangover I took the opportunity to explore the front nine ? I was the designated driver last night (again) and as such I feel as fresh as the day I was born. Whilst the front nine lacks the wow factor of the second half, its length and huge changes in elevation make it a greater physical challenge. The flag on the 240 yard par-3 4th sits in a nook on the front of the green, no more then 10ft wide, flanked on either side by bunkers. Cleanly strike a long iron or fairway wood arrow straight or rely on your short game to get you out of trouble. There was a grand total of five birdies on the 4th yesterday and I can?t see many more coming today.

I discovered what the front nine has to offer by following Ian Poulter. Today he?s gone for a slight variation on yesterday?s offering ? he?s wearing radioactive green trousers, a black t-shirt and a black hat. As I write, he?s just dropped his first shot of the day and lies +5 for the tournament.

Another European I spotted this morning was Darren Clarke. Playing with Fuzzy Zoeller and Johan Edfors, the Northern Irishman is two under for his round. Despite making an excellent start to day two, so bad was his opening round 83 that he had the sorry look of a beaten man.

At this point, I?d like to take the opportunity to remind Mike that the press, whilst not needing to remain totally impartial, should really show some form of restraint. Mike is the only person in this enormous media centre shouting at the giant TV screen (willing David Howell?s ball to go in at every opportunity). I don?t really think that sort of behaviour is the done thing.

Augusta National Media Centre 1.05pm (Masters time) Friday April 6

MH I?ve just done my brains in the Augusta pro shop. I feared this might happen when I went in there on Wednesday morning and was confronted with a vast array of tempting merchandise. I?ve spent the last two days avoiding going back but this morning the pull was just too much. I?m now dreading going home and having to explain to my wife why I have bought two new waterproof tops seeing as I already have 13 others. Then I?m sure we?ll have to address the issue of the polo shirts, caps and a smorgasboard of other items that I couldn?t refuse.

I think I might try and lay the blame for this uncontrolled behaviour at the door of Neil Tappin who refused to accompany me and moderate my expenditure. Then again my wife thinks Neil is good man so that might not wash. Oh well, at least I’ve got three days to think of a better excuse.

While we?re on the blame game I?m also pointing the finger at GM editor at large, Bill Elliott, for the fact I?m feeling a bit shabby today. The plan last night was to just pop over to the Irish Tourist Board party, have a couple of drinks and come home. We went with best intentions but it all went pear shaped when Mr Elliott introduced me to Jack Daniels and ginger ale. With my lack of restraint, the results were all too predictable.

Augusta National Media Centre 9.30am (Masters time) Friday April 6

NT I was under the impression that Georgia, being in the south of the United States would be hot, that after a week here I?d be boarding the plane with a healthy glow. What I was not prepared for however was the genuinely bitter chill that greeted us as we left our house this morning. It?s currently 6°C outside and according to the weather forecasters the only thing preventing frost was the presence of some high cloud.

The early starters will need to contend with the cold that will only add to the severity of the challenge they faced yesterday. Overnight co-leader Bret Wetterich is already on the course ? he?s just pared the first two holes. Below is a list of other notable tee times (GMT):

14.28 – David Howell

15.23 – Luke Donald, Padraig Harrington

15.34 – Tiger Woods, Paul Casey

16.07 – Ian Poulter

17.57 – Colin Montgomerie, Bernhard Langer

18.30 – Henrik Stenson

18.41 – Ernie Els

18.52 – Sergio Garcia

19.03 – Phil Mickelson

19.14 – Justin Rose

With Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson playing in the last two groups today, you can expect to see their rounds covered extensively during tonight?s BBC broadcast.

Augusta National Media Centre 7.30pm (Masters time) Thursday April 5

MH I returned to the media centre around 2.30 pm to find that the whole wireless network is down. Ordinarily this would be very bad news however I discovered from my Spanish friend sat next to me that this technical hiccup had been going on for the past two hours. This gives me a nice little excuse for not having updated the blog for a while. The fact I was taking an extended lunch at the time and was oblivious to the situation is, I feel, neither here nor there.

Anyhow, when I returned to my workstation the big story – for us anyway – was that GM playing editor David Howell was compiling a great round.

When he nearly canned his second shot at the par 5 15th I started to get very excited and headed out to catch his closing holes. I arrived at par 3 16th just as he was sending his birdie putt on the way and despite missing that he tapped in for par.

On the 17th tee I bumped in to his swing guru and Golf Monthly Top25 coach Clive Tucker and fitness coach Paul Hoskins. Just behind them were the Howell family posse headed by his dad Ray. We all headed up 17, took a berth to the side of the green and watched on as yet another birdie putt rolled up to shoe-in distance.

18 was a similar story with David?s approach finishing in birdie territory, but again the putt stayed out. In the end he had to settle for a 2 under par 70. It could have easily been two or even three shots better but given how tough the scoring conditions have been today he wasn?t complaining. In fact, in the post round press conference, he said one or two over represented a great score today.

The press conference contained the obligatory questions about what clubs he?d hit on the holes he?d made birdie, the European major drought and one on ?mindset? from one of our US friends. Just as the session was winding down Golf Monthly?s editor at large, Bill Elliott, interjected with an inquiry as to how the furnishing of his house was progressing. The question was lost on all but me Bill, David and, of course, the more observant Golf Monthly readership. Confused? You?ll have to read Bill?s blog to find out more.

Augusta National Media Centre 5.00pm (Masters time) Thursday April 5

NT My afternoon was spent with the thousands of fans down at Amen Corner. There are so many observation points, natural and manmade, that you can see something of interest from almost anywhere. Many Masters ?patrons?, as they are known here, bring portable chairs and park on the edge of the fairways. One woman sitting next to the 13th was hit on the leg by the golf ball of Ben Crane. I was standing just behind the unfortunate lady who sustained a minor leg injury. As far as I could tell the neither the player or his caddie shouted fore.

Like her leg, the numbers at Amen Corner began to swell as Tiger moved in. A straightforward birdie on 13 was followed by another on 15 and the world?s number one quickly moved into a very healthy position. Ominously for the rest of the field, his short game seemed up to its? usual standards even if his long game was relatively poor. The firmness of the course places even more emphasis on the short game and today, Tiger has underlined just how good his is.

Augusta National Media Centre 12.30pm (Masters time) Thursday April 5

MHNeil was so taken with Ian Poulter?s outfit (see below) so I thought I?d go and see it for myself and headed down to the 10th where he and Billy Mayfair were putting out. It?s really very natty indeed and I?m glad to be able to be bale the hat is of the pork pie variety.

I followed the duo down 11 and then took a pew in the observation stand to watch them hole out and then play the dramatic 12th. Both made pars at those two holes and then courtesy of great fairway metal to 13, Poulter made a much needed. Having watched that action I head across the course and got a great view from behind the 7th tee of Aaron Oberholser, Zach Johnson and Nicolas Fasth hitting their drives. Two points of interest. Zach Johnson addresses the ball with the toe of his driver barely opposite the ball ? I think I?d miss it if I did that ? and that Nicolas Fasth?s follow through has become significantly less baroque than it used to be.

My last stop off was by the side of the 9th green where Gary Player hit a majestic approach with his 3 wood that made it all the way up to the very back ledge where the pin is located. Awesome stuff from the Black Knight.

Other news to round up is that Woosie has withdrawn with a bad back, and that Frenchman Julien Guerrier (the Amateur Champion) is having a torrid time of it at 8 over through 12.

Augusta National Media Centre 10.55am (Masters time) Thursday April 5

NT Yesterday was my first real glimpse of Augusta and as I strolled around I was really just trying to get a feel for the place, experience the atmosphere. This morning, as I watched some of the early play my focus shifted more specifically to the challenge of the course. What became immediately apparent (and I know this has been said a million times) is that the greens are brutal. I watched at least 10 players arrive at the first green in good shape only to walk away with a bogey ? most notably Chris DiMarco, Monty, Bernhard Langer, Stuart Appleby and Zach Johnson. If the first green is anything to go by I can?t imagine that the scoring this week will be particularly low.

I managed to catch a glimpse of Ian Poulter marching purposefully around the front nine (he was first off this morning and as I write is struggling at +4 through 10) wearing green slacks, a white t-shirt and an eye catching white hat (a cross between bowler and cowboy). If he does miss the cut, at least he?ll do so in style!

Some of the later starters were looking to gain an advantage by sending their caddies out to recce the course. I spotted Billy Foster (Darren Clarke?s caddie) and Robert Karlsson?s bag man studying the play on the first green. Even though these players have practiced extensively on the course, knowing exactly where, and more importantly where not, to hit their approach shots through the experience of watching other players struggle should provide a significant advantage.

The only sour note during this whole experience so far came as I stood behind the first green watching Monty. Two members of the gallery sitting behind me were wishing him bad luck. Of course they?re entitled to their own opinion but it was disappointing to hear them being quite so vociferous.

Augusta National Media Centre 10.00am (Masters time) Thursday April 5

MH

Morning y?all from a cool but sunny Augusta. The Tournament is already underway and as I type Ben Crenshaw has made a fast start and is co-leader with Tim Clark. Could this be a blast from the past by the double Masters champ? Not likely says GM equipment editor Jezz Ellwood. I have just had him on the phone from back home and he predicts Gentle Ben to miss the cut by 10 shots! A tad harsh maybe.

While we?re on the subject of Masters greats it was good to see Arnie crack a decent drive away as honorary starter this morning.

The great man hit a couple of unmentionables at the par 3 competition yesterday and it was fair to say that there were concerns in the media centre about the outcome of this morning?s shot.

Anyhow, Neil has just returned from an early walk round the course so I?ll hand over to him for a report on what it’s like out on the course.

Augusta National Media Centre 5.30pm (Masters time) Wednesday April 4

NT

With the clock hitting 4pm Mike returned to the media centre from the pro shop and I headed back out to the course. As cameras are contraband on tournament days this was my last chance to capture the spectacular Augusta vistas and go home with some snaps that I?ll cherish forever. I made my way back down towards the 16th green that was now bathing in perfect spring sunshine.

It was at this point that I did something very unprofessional.

I asked a middle-aged lady, who was also admiring the hole if she wouldn?t mind taking my picture. People with press passes shouldn?t go around acting like over-eager toddlers but sadly I couldn?t help myself. I?ve posted the offending item next to this blog.

Anyway, night time has now descended over Augusta, the vast majority of the press have left the media centre and the bars are filled with punters speculating as to who will take the latest Green Jacket. The general consensus here is that the course is slightly harder and faster than years gone by and the players will need to show a few different skills to score well. As long as the rain stays away, we?ll see the world?s best showing the full range of their shot-making ability. The shorter hitters may have a chance this year if, and it?s a big if, Tiger doesn?t gallop away with it?

Augusta National Media Centre 5.30pm (Masters time – 5hrs GMT) Wednesday April 4
MH It?s half an hour since I walked backed into the media centre and sat down at my desk. However, despite the past 30 minutes ticking by, the sights and sounds I experienced on my first proper stroll around the course have yet to properly sink in.

When we arrived this morning it was cool and overcast, we were wearing jackets and everyone was hoping the predicted rain would pass without too much intrusion. Things perked up a bit this morning but it was still in the 60s when Neil headed out for a recce. And even though he returned with a light sweat on – we put that down to the excitement of him vox-popping a handful of Major champions ? it felt like a spring day back home rather than early April in Georgia.

However, this afternoon has seen a real change with brisk winds blowing away the clouds and allowing the sun to really crank up the temperatures and further firm up the course. The conditions now look absolutely perfect and one of the US writers sat behind us said he?d never seen the course in such terrific shape.

I got my first taste of just how slick and heavily contoured the Augusta greens are when ambled up to the 9th green and caught the English trio of David Howell, Paul Casey and Luke Donald playing their approach shots. All three spent a good five minutes putting to various pin positions and the amount of break they were playing seemed incredible. One downhill putt that looked almost straight to my untrained eye required a good eight feet of borrow!

The three of them exchanged a ?good luck this week? and headed off for a spot of lunch and, in David Howell?s case, a session on the range with his coach Clive Tucker.

I headed on towards the 10th tee and what must be one of the spectacular views in golf. The first hole of the back none sweeps down and around to the left dropping some 150ft to the green that sits surrounded by high pines. Even as a complete links lover I had to say this hole took my breath away.

At most courses you might get one or two views like this, at Augusta it seems like there?s yet another jaw dropping vista around each turn. And so it was when I head down to Amen Corner. It?s hard to describe just how beautiful this section of the course is but save to say I had the camera out and was snapping away like all the other fans there.

Some investigations have revealed that there?s a little observation stand reserved for the press down there from where you can see approach shots to 11, the tee shot at the short 12th and then the drive from the 13th tee box carved deep into the trees. Neil and I have promised each other we?ll try and get down there at some point and spend and hour or so soaking up the action.

Jaw removed from the floor it was time to head back up the hill and explore the clubhouse. You can hardly believe it when you?re told that your media badge gets you inside the iconic wooden 19th but it does and spent 30 odd minutes walking around in a bit of daze. At every turn there seemed to be a famous face chatting away his assembled entourage. On the lawn under a parasol Nick Faldo was having a beer under, Luke Donald was chatting away to Sergio Garcia?s manger, Gary Player animatedly talking to a TV crew and David Toms was sat on the veranda with his young son.

To be honest I was a bit giddy with all this and things got worse when I found myself in the professionals shop surrounded by lost of very tasteful, very tempting Masters merchandise. Quite frankly I can?t be trusted in these sorts of places even when on an even keel, in my giddy frame of mind it was recipe for serious dollar depletion. Thankfully I didn?t have my wallet with me or else I?d have exited with 6 polo shirts, 4 mugs, a windproof top, 4 caps, 8 pin badges and a bag of tees. I have asked that Neil and I go together to make any purchases and that we try to calm each other down before anything bad happens.

Augusta National Media Centre 3.00pm (Masters time – 5hrs GMT) Wednesday April 4

Neil Tappin (NT)

At nine o?clock this morning (Wednesday) I took on a fairly straightforward task, to ask any player I could find about the prospect of the Players Championship at Sawgrass becoming a fifth Major for a forthcoming feature on the subject in GM. As I wandered wide-eyed but aimlessly around Augusta National (this was my first real glimpse of the place) I remembered Bill Elliott, GM senior writer and a veteran of 28 previous Masters, explaining that our press passes would gain us entry to the clubhouse. So off I popped in the hope that I might just run into someone interesting. This proved to be a good decision. As I wandered sheepishly inside I was greeted by the sight of a dapper looking Arnold Palmer, appropriately wearing his green jacket, walking directly towards me. I asked him my one simple question and he politely replied. But before I had enough time to take in what had just happened I saw Seve. Then Bernhard Langer. In the space of 10 minutes I had seen and spoken to three men with eight Green Jackets between them.

Already chuffed with my morning?s work I decided to take a walk down to Amen Corner. Nothing can really prepare you for the majesty of the holes that make up this eerie part of the course – the enormous pine trees shelter you from the breeze and the crystal clear water lies motionless around the 11th and 12th greens. Without a single imperfection to find, it was hard to believe that these incredible sights were not a figment of my imagination.

Augusta National Media Centre 11.30 am (Masters time – 5hrs GMT) Wednesday April 4

Michael Harris (MH) Hello and good morning from Augusta National Golf Club. After flying in on Monday and a frustrating day yesterday where technical difficulties (IT had supplied us with a duff power cable for the laptop!) conspired against us the GM team are at last set up in the media centre and ready to go.

Neil and I are making our Masters debuts this week and it?s fair to say that we?re both completely awestruck. The grass really is a green as it looks on the TV, the hills genuinely as big as the TV commentators tell you and the atmosphere is just fantastic.

This week we?re set up in the purpose built media centre that sits alongside the 1st fairway. At every other Tour event the press are billeted in a huge temporary marquee/exhibition hall type affair but this place is more akin to the United Nations debating chamber with a semi circle of steeply banked seats. We?re slap bang in the middle in the second from back row. A great spot with a view of the player scoreboard and big screens and to our left a bank of 9 TVs that show live feeds from all of the back 9 holes. We?re also handily placed for the media refreshments area with its supplies of amongst other items. Complimentary Krispy Kreme donuts. I think I?m going to need to do a lot of walking the course this week if I?m to go home the size I arrived!

I haven?t been out for a wander on the course or around the clubhouse yet but Neil has just returned from his first trip and it seems like he has been mixing with some rather illustrious company so I?ll let him tell you all about that.

Augusta National Media Centre 5.30pm (Masters time) Wednesday April 4

NT

With the clock hitting 4pm Mike returned to the media centre from the pro shop and I headed back out to the course. As cameras are contraband on tournament days this was my last chance to capture the spectacular Augusta vistas and go home with some snaps that I?ll cherish forever. I made my way back down towards the 16th green that was now bathing in perfect spring sunshine.

It was at this point that I did something very unprofessional.

I asked a middle-aged lady, who was also admiring the hole if she wouldn?t mind taking my picture. People with press passes shouldn?t go around acting like over-eager toddlers but sadly I couldn?t help myself. I?ve posted the offending item next to this blog.

Anyway, night time has now descended over Augusta, the vast majority of the press have left the media centre and the bars are filled with punters speculating as to who will take the latest Green Jacket. The general consensus here is that the course is slightly harder and faster than years gone by and the players will need to show a few different skills to score well. As long as the rain stays away, we?ll see the world?s best showing the full range of their shot-making ability. The shorter hitters may have a chance this year if, and it?s a big if, Tiger doesn?t gallop away with it?

Augusta National Media Centre 5.30pm (Masters time – 5hrs GMT) Wednesday April 4
MH It?s half an hour since I walked backed into the media centre and sat down at my desk. However, despite the past 30 minutes ticking by, the sights and sounds I experienced on my first proper stroll around the course have yet to properly sink in.

When we arrived this morning it was cool and overcast, we were wearing jackets and everyone was hoping the predicted rain would pass without too much intrusion. Things perked up a bit this morning but it was still in the 60s when Neil headed out for a recce. And even though he returned with a light sweat on – we put that down to the excitement of him vox-popping a handful of Major champions ? it felt like a spring day back home rather than early April in Georgia.

However, this afternoon has seen a real change with brisk winds blowing away the clouds and allowing the sun to really crank up the temperatures and further firm up the course. The conditions now look absolutely perfect and one of the US writers sat behind us said he?d never seen the course in such terrific shape.

I got my first taste of just how slick and heavily contoured the Augusta greens are when ambled up to the 9th green and caught the English trio of David Howell, Paul Casey and Luke Donald playing their approach shots. All three spent a good five minutes putting to various pin positions and the amount of break they were playing seemed incredible. One downhill putt that looked almost straight to my untrained eye required a good eight feet of borrow!

The three of them exchanged a ?good luck this week? and headed off for a spot of lunch and, in David Howell?s case, a session on the range with his coach Clive Tucker.

I headed on towards the 10th tee and what must be one of the spectacular views in golf. The first hole of the back none sweeps down and around to the left dropping some 150ft to the green that sits surrounded by high pines. Even as a complete links lover I had to say this hole took my breath away.

At most courses you might get one or two views like this, at Augusta it seems like there?s yet another jaw dropping vista around each turn. And so it was when I head down to Amen Corner. It?s hard to describe just how beautiful this section of the course is but save to say I had the camera out and was snapping away like all the other fans there.

Some investigations have revealed that there?s a little observation stand reserved for the press down there from where you can see approach shots to 11, the tee shot at the short 12th and then the drive from the 13th tee box carved deep into the trees. Neil and I have promised each other we?ll try and get down there at some point and spend and hour or so soaking up the action.

Jaw removed from the floor it was time to head back up the hill and explore the clubhouse. You can hardly believe it when you?re told that your media badge gets you inside the iconic wooden 19th but it does and spent 30 odd minutes walking around in a bit of daze. At every turn there seemed to be a famous face chatting away his assembled entourage. On the lawn under a parasol Nick Faldo was having a beer, Luke Donald was chatting away to Sergio Garcia?s manger, Gary Player animatedly talking to a TV crew and David Toms was sat on the veranda with his young son.

To be honest I was a bit giddy with all this and things got worse when I found myself in the professionals shop surrounded by lost of very tasteful, very tempting Masters merchandise. Quite frankly I can?t be trusted in these sorts of places even when on an even keel, in my giddy frame of mind it was recipe for serious dollar depletion. Thankfully I didn?t have my wallet with me or else I?d have exited with 6 polo shirts, 4 mugs, a windproof top, 4 caps, 8 pin badges and a bag of tees. I have asked that Neil and I go together to make any purchases and that we try to calm each other down before anything bad happens.

Augusta National Media Centre 3.00pm (Masters time – 5hrs GMT) Wednesday April 4

Neil Tappin (NT)

At nine o?clock this morning (Wednesday) I took on a fairly straightforward task, to ask any player I could find about the prospect of the Players Championship at Sawgrass becoming a fifth Major for a forthcoming feature on the subject in GM. As I wandered wide-eyed but aimlessly around Augusta National (this was my first real glimpse of the place) I remembered Bill Elliott, GM senior writer and a veteran of 28 previous Masters, explaining that our press passes would gain us entry to the clubhouse. So off I popped in the hope that I might just run into someone interesting. This proved to be a good decision. As I wandered sheepishly inside I was greeted by the sight of a dapper looking Arnold Palmer, appropriately wearing his green jacket, walking directly towards me. I asked him my one simple question and he politely replied. But before I had enough time to take in what had just happened I saw Seve. Then Bernhard Langer. In the space of 10 minutes I had seen and spoken to three men with eight Green Jackets between them.

Already chuffed with my morning?s work I decided to take a walk down to Amen Corner. Nothing can really prepare you for the majesty of the holes that make up this eerie part of the course – the enormous pine trees shelter you from the breeze and the crystal clear water lies motionless around the 11th and 12th greens. Without a single imperfection to find, it was hard to believe that these incredible sights were not a figment of my imagination.

Augusta National Media Centre 11.30 am (Masters time – 5hrs GMT) Wednesday April 4

Michael Harris (MH) Hello and good morning from Augusta National Golf Club. After flying in on Monday and a frustrating day yesterday where technical difficulties (IT had supplied us with a duff power cable for the laptop!) conspired against us the GM team are at last set up in the media centre and ready to go.

Neil and I are making our Masters debuts this week and it?s fair to say that we?re both completely awestruck. The grass really is a green as it looks on the TV, the hills genuinely as big as the TV commentators tell you and the atmosphere is just fantastic.

This week we?re set up in the purpose built media centre that sits alongside the 1st fairway. At every other Tour event the press are billeted in a huge temporary marquee/exhibition hall type affair but this place is more akin to the United Nations debating chamber with a semi circle of steeply banked seats. We?re slap bang in the middle in the second from back row. A great spot with a view of the player scoreboard and big screens and to our left a bank of 9 TVs that show live feeds from all of the back 9 holes. We?re also handily placed for the media refreshments area with its supplies of amongst other items. Complimentary Krispy Kreme donuts. I think I?m going to need to do a lot of walking the course this week if I?m to go home the size I arrived!

I haven?t been out for a wander on the course or around the clubhouse yet but Neil has just returned from his first trip and it seems like he has been mixing with some rather illustrious company so I?ll let him tell you all about that.