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Masters notebook: Aikenite returns home to go to Masters

April 11, 2019

AUGUSTA — Nearly every year since the 60s, when he first came to the Masters tournament, Mark Hudgins has made it a point to get to the Masters at least for a day or two.

This year he made the trip from Lynchburg, Virginia, but in the past he’s made a much shorter trip from Aiken.

“I was born on the second floor of the old Aiken Hospital,” said Hudgins, who was taking in a beverage at Amen Corner on Wednesday with his friend George McNeilly from Orlando.

“My dad, Pat, would bring my brother and I when we were younger, 8 or 9 years old, and we’d walk along 18 and we had a nice chat with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus,” Hudgins said. “I’ve been coming since the 60s off and on.”

Hudgins’ best memory was sitting at No. 18 in 2004 when Phil Mickelson rolled in a long putt to win his first green jacket.

“George asked me about that today,” Hudgins said. “That’s the best memory for me. I was right there.”

Sandy still has it

In the Par 3 Contest, Sandy Lyle put together a few birdies and before you knew it ... he was in the hunt for the title.

The 1988 Masters champion showed he still has some game at the age of 61. He birdied the second through the fifth holes to shoot 5 under for nine holes, but ultimately lost in a playoff to 28-year-old Masters rookie Matt Wallace.

“Yeah, strung some birdies together and then even the eighth hole I had about a 5½-footer up the hill quite an easy putt, and Woosie (Ian Woosnam) had already putted from just behind me on exactly the same line and it managed to hit the hole and come out,” Lyle said. “It was a good putt, too. So I was a little miffed, it was a 5‑footer uphill, just a little bit of left‑to‑right. I thought, if I can hole that, I should be able to maybe to beat my all‑time record, but I think I just equaled my all‑time record at 22.”

Remembering two greats

When Masters Chairman Fred Ridley spoke to the press Wednesday, he began by honoring two Masters staples who passed this year. He started by remembering 1957 Masters Champion Doug Ford, who passed in May.

He then honored Dan Jenkins, the long time Sports Illustrated and Golf Digest writer, who passed last month.

“We were fortunate Dan made the Masters his destination, his priority, for the past 68 years,” Ridley said. “During that time, he blessed us with his masterful prose and his quick wit, which flowed from the printed page into countless conversations and friendships he made here at Augusta National.”

In the press arena at Augusta National, a desk has been assigned to Jenkins and there is a picture of him with a small rack holding Jenkins’ trademark hat. Also, his parking space remains in the press parking lot.

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