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Golf notebook: "Thrift store green jacket" mystery unraveled

By Tom LaMarre, The Sports Xchange
The green jacket awarded to Masters champions like Sergio Garcia is not to leave the grounds of Augusta National. But one mysteriously turned up in a thrift store. Now the myster behind it may be solved. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/493b7d26bcc4e64bbf34da832dcd57af/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
The green jacket awarded to Masters champions like Sergio Garcia is not to leave the grounds of Augusta National. But one mysteriously turned up in a thrift store. Now the myster behind it may be solved. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Some of the mystery surrounding what has become known as the "Thrift Store Green Jacket" has been unraveled, but the entire story might never be known.

It was 23 years ago that an authentic jacket from the Augusta National Golf Club sold for $5 in a Goodwill store in Toronto. The jackets are worn only by club members and Masters champions.

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The name of the original owner of the jacket, which is not supposed to be taken off the Augusta grounds except by the reigning Masters champion, had been snipped from the label.

How the 1950s era jacket ended up on a rack of used sport coats before it was bought for $5 in 1994 by an unnamed Canadian journalist is unknown.

Dominic Pedler, a British Golf International journalist, tracked down the buyer.

"It took some time to locate the fortune finder and make him an offer he couldn't refuse (he did); and several more months before I had a deal and a logistical plan to take safe possession of the plunder," Pedler wrote in an article. "But eventually there was the satisfaction of slipping it on to find that the estimated size 42 Regular could indeed have been made for me. ... I do dust it off once a year to watch the Masters on TV while my wife rustles up a peach cobbler."

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Pedler owned the jacket for several years, but he put it up for auction recently, and it sold for $139,349, the amount surprising even the auction house.

The sale came last month on Masters weekend, when Sergio Garcia claimed his green jacket by winning at Augusta National.

"We knew it had a cool story, that's the exciting thing about the jacket," said Ryan Carey, co-owner of Green Jacket Auctions. "If you wanted a green jacket, this is the one you want."

The identity of the new owner is not known, and it might stay that way. Speculation is the members of Augusta National wanted their jacket back.

Bygones be bygones

Padraig Harrington and Sergio Garcia apparently made up.

After Garcia claimed his first major title last month in the Masters, Harrington told a reporter he still remembered what a poor sport the Spaniard was after losing their playoff in the 2007 Open Championship at Carnoustie.

The relationship has been strained through the years, even when Harrington and Garcia were teammates on the European team in the Ryder Cup.

So, as luck would have it, who was the first person Harrington ran into when he showed up for Rory McIlroy's wedding recently at Ashford Castle in Ireland?

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You got it, Garcia.

"We have had a chat because clearly there was an elephant in the room about what I said, and we have decided that we will look going forward at our similarities and the good in each of us rather than any other way," Harrington said.

"We are in a great place. If anything, it has worked out for the better. ... It's a situation that had to be dealt with, and it was dealt with. Myself and Sergio are on a much better footing than we have ever been."

That has to be good news for Denmark's Thomas Bjorn, captain of the 2018 European Ryder Cup team. Garcia figures to be a lock to make the team, and if Harrington doesn't, he could be a vice captain for the matches in Paris.

LPGA members not impressed by "Lexi rule"

Members of the media immediately began calling it the "Lexi Rule," but many players on the LPGA Tour were not all that impressed with rules changes the USGA and R&A announced last week.

The alterations were designed to modify the rules regarding fans notifying officials of rules violations similar to the situation in which Lexi Thompson was assessed four penalty strokes that probably cost her the ANA Inspiration last month.

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"There's more gray area than clear definition," Stacy Lewis told the Golf Channel. "It didn't really clarify anything. I don't think it changes Lexi's ruling at all."

However, the rule probably would have affected the penalty that might have cost Anna Nordqvist of Sweden the 2016 U.S. Women's Open title.

Nordqvist was assessed a two-stroke penalty after high-definition video replay captured her club moving a few grains of sand in a bunker during the final round. She was informed of the penalty on the 18th hole and lost to Brittany Lang.

The new rule, Decision 34-3/10, prohibits penalties that can't be seen with the naked eye and also says if a tournament committee decides a player did "all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement" then there will be no penalty, no matter what else comes to light on video.

"I am happy with the USGA and R&A Rules Decision regarding infractions that cannot be reasonably seen with the naked eye," Nordqvist said in a statement. "After my experience last year at the U.S. Women's Open at CordeValle, I know firsthand the impact that the advancements in technology can have on potential rulings. As I said following the round, I made a mistake, and I take full responsibility for it. I am happy that going forward this will no longer be an issue."

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To some, the new rule does not clarify the two-stroke penalty added to Thompson's score because she signed an incorrect scorecard for marking her ball incorrectly on the 17th hole in round three of the ANA.

The four strokes were assessed the next day after a television viewer emailed officials about the infraction, and Thompson was not notified until she was on the 12th hole in the final round with a two-stroke lead.

Thompson eventually lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu of South Korea.

"I don't think you should be able to phone in after the fact," said Catriona Matthew of Scotland, the 2009 Women's British Open champion.

Added Lang: "My opinion is they have to do away with call-ins. I think if you are going to call in, they ought to put your picture and your information on TV, just to show who is doing this and why you did it."

This matter not yet finished, as the R&A and USGA have said they will continue to discuss it with the major tours.

Nike back on the course?

Nike went out of the golf club equipment business last year, but some of its technology might soon be back on the market, without the swooshes.

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The Phoenix Business Journal reported that Karsten Manufacturing Corporation (parent company of Ping) recently purchased at least five patents from Nike related to golf club technology

The five patents reportedly are part of a larger acquisition, and the sales were revealed in patent records.

"We see this as an opportunity to add utility patents to our already significant intellectual property portfolio," Ping president John K. Solheim said in the Phoenix Business Journal story.

"Our team can use these patents, along with our existing intellectual property, to our competitive advantage, accelerating our ability to further technology that ultimately leads to higher performing, score-lowering golf equipment."

Nike continues to make other golf gear, including shoes and apparel, and has sponsorship deals with Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and other pros.

No. 10 and counting

Top-ranked Lydia Ko of New Zealand has moved on to caddie No. 10.

Ko had Peter Godfrey, the LPGA Tour's 2017 Caddie of the Year while working mostly for Ha Na Jang of South Korea, on the bag last week in the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout at Las Colinas in Irving, Texas.

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Ko, who turned 20 on April 24, employed six caddies during her rookie year before teaming with Justin Hamilton, who she was with for 10 of her 14 LPGA victories.

She fired Hamilton in October after nearly two years together. She used a local caddie for one event before turning to Gary Matthews, who was fired earlier this month after nine events together.

Godfrey also was the caddie for Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand last year when she captured the Women's British Open at Woburn Golf Club in England.

No word on if the new hire was permanent or on a wait-and-see basis.

Ko withdrew from the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout after two rounds because of an eye infection exacerbated by allergies.

80th Senior PGA to Oak Hill

Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, N.Y., a suburb of Rochester, was selected to host the 80th Senior PGA Championship in 2019.

This will be the 11th major event (including a Ryder Cup and U.S. Amateur) played on Oak Hill's famed East Course designed by legendary Donald Ross, and the total will reach 12 when the 2023 PGA Championship is held there.

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"To our mind, Oak Hill is right at the top of major championship golf experiences for any and all players in the world," said Kerry Haigh, the PGA of America's chief championships officer, who has been part of PGA events at the club since the 1995 Ryder Cup.

"When I drive up that main driveway coming in, it's one of the most exciting drives in golf, the right side of the eighth hole and the vista that you see there. It's very special, and players realize and see that when they play the golf course."

Charlie Coe won the 1949 U.S. Amateur at Oak Hill, which has hosted three U.S. Opens, won by Cary Middlecoff (1956), Lee Trevino (1968) and Curtis Strange (1989).

Jack Nicklaus (1968) won the first of three PGA Championships played at Oak Hill, followed by Shaun Micheel (2003) and Jason Dufner (2013).

The Senior PGA Championship was played on the East Course for the first time in 2008, with Jay Haas claiming the title.

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