‘It’s chicken s**t’: Pro blasts Masters officials for spoiling a farewell

Sandy Lyle

Sandy Lyle and his caddie, Ken Martin, on Friday on the 18th green at Augusta National.

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AUGUSTA, Ga. — Jason Kokrak said he had three words for a Masters official on Friday, following an awkward sequence on Augusta National’s 18th hole.

“I said, ‘It’s chicken s**t,’” he told GOLF.com.  

Moments earlier, just outside of the scoring building, Kokrak was also overheard telling the same official, “Would have been a really cool moment.” And about a half-hour before that, after a horn postponed Masters second-round play after a tree fell on the 17th tee, he had talked to another official, just behind the 18th green, amid a few chants of: “Let him putt.”

Neither conversation worked, though, and Kokrak, Talor Gooch and, most notably, Sandy Lyle will return to the green at 8 a.m. on Saturday and finish their second rounds. 

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The scene will mark Lyle’s final-ever Masters round; ahead of the tournament, it was announced that the 1988 Masters champion, along with 1987 winner Larry Mize, would no longer play on his lifetime exemption into the event. 

And therein lay Kokrak’s frustration.  

Lyle has 12 feet left for par. About 500 patrons circling the green were prepared to salute him; he had already received cheers after his tee shot, his second shot and third shot, which was a pitch from right of the green. 

But the final celebration and Lyle will have to wait a day — or longer; the forecast is ugly for Saturday, too. Kokrak said he pleaded with the official near the green for a “special exemption” to continue after the horn but was turned down.  

“It could have been a really cool moment for Sandy Lyle, his family, the patrons, Augusta National, being the ’88 champion. Him and Larry being their last Masters,” Kokrak told GOLF.com. “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.”

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Throughout play on 18, Kokrak was cheerleading for Lyle.  

On the tee, after a pat to Lyle’s chest, Kokrak had yielded to him the honor to play first. After Lyle’s drive, which found the fairway, Kokrak put his arm around Lyle as they walked off the box. 

The horn sounded at 4:22 p.m., when the players were on the green. Kokrak had 26 feet for par, Gooch had 3 feet for bogey and Lyle had a 12-footer for par. Gooch put his arm around Lyle. Gooch, at one over, could potentially make the cut, while Kokrak (seven over) and Lyle (19 over) will not.   

At that point, the greenside official walked up to the players. Kokrak and a few patrons cheered for them to finish play — “let them putt” was chanted — and Kokrak had a separate word with the official. 

“The lady said it was above my paygrade,” Kokrak told GOLF.com, “and I said, this isn’t something about paygrade or anything like that. This is a moment in history that he won’t get back, and you guys have ruined it.”

Lyle eventually marked his ball. A patron yelled, “See you tomorrow,” and Lyle shrugged. 

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As he walked off the green, the 500 or so patrons all stood to cheer. Kokrak and Gooch did, too.   

At scoring, Kokrak then talked to the second official. 

About an hour later, play in the second round was officially suspended for the day, with the round scheduled to resume at 8 a.m. Saturday. Hopefully. According to weather.com, there is, at that hour, a 98 percent chance of rain. 

“I really wish he would have gotten to finish in front of the patrons and his family, and now — I mean, hopefully they’ll — I mean, tomorrow doesn’t look any better, but I really hoped that it was a different circumstance,” Kokrak said. “I feel bad for him and his family. He’s still standing right there. 

“And I think it’s absolutely chicken s**t that they wouldn’t grant a special exemption because they weren’t going to blow the horn except — I mean, I understand that there was a freak accident — trees going down. Thankfully, nobody got hurt. I think that should have been something that could have been something understood by anybody under the umbrella of Augusta National and the rules committee.”

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.