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The home of the Masters is a draw for basketball’s best, too


AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — It was April 7, 2003. Exactly 18 years in the past Wednesday, Syracuse defeated Kansas to win the NCAA males’s basketball nationwide championship. The greatest win in class historical past, the greatest win in the Hall of Fame profession of Orange coach Jim Boeheim.

A pair hours after the recreation ended, Boeheim made a cellphone name.

Even after the greatest win of his life, Augusta National was on his thoughts.

“I had a deal with a guy that if we won the national championship, he’d get me onto Augusta National,” Boeheim mentioned. “It was like 3 in the morning, right after the championship game, and we called to make sure it would happen.”

And it did.

This is the lure of Augusta National. If you discover your approach onto the grounds — both as a patron for the Masters, or in the even smaller membership of individuals who can say that they performed the course — it’s a reminiscence for life. And in recent times, basketball coaches and gamers appear to have change into significantly fond of the probability to be the place the Masters occurs.

“It’s a special place, obviously,” said Golden State guard Stephen Curry, who has played Augusta National a couple times. “There’s a lot of history there. You get to watch the tournament every year, you feel like you know every hole if you’ve been there before or not. And if you get to play it, it’s even that much more special to have that experience and walk those same grounds.”

Curry half-seriously considered walking off Augusta after his first hole there; he made birdie, so he technically could have said for the rest of his life that he was under par on the course where they play the Masters.

To him, Augusta has “a majestic nature.”

“It’s pretty awesome,” Curry said.

The Warriors don’t have a game Thursday, so Curry will get to watch a good deal of the first round, at least. And he won’t be the only NBA guy finding time to watch plenty of golf throughout the rest of this week, either.

“Hypothetically, if I could play there, it’s probably what the kids want to do when they want to go to Disney World with a pass and no other people there, no lines to wait in and free food and free toys and gifts,” Miami ahead Andre Iguodala mentioned playfully, as a result of he did not need to really come out and make sure that he is performed Augusta National. “That’s what it’s like … I would imagine.”

Iguodala has performed there; the 2015 NBA Finals MVP for Golden State acquired on with Curry and another members of the Warriors’ group on an off day a few years in the past. Iguodala left with such respect for the course that he even modified the approach he practices golf; he’s tried to seek out methods to account for uphill, downhill and sidehill lies, that are all half of the appeal and problem at the Masters.

“You have a lot of respect for guys who win that tournament,” Iguodala mentioned, noting that no one has a fortunate win at Augusta National. “You’ve got to go get it.”

For some in basketball, Augusta National is a place to compete.

For at the very least one different, it was a place to ponder whether or not a profession ought to finish.

Roy Williams retired as North Carolina’s coach final week, after 18 seasons with the Tar Heels and three nationwide championships.

He ready to inform his crew, and the relaxation of the world, the information by coming to Augusta National and enjoying 36 holes. And even at the information convention the place he made it official, he made positive to publicly and proudly level out what he had carried out at the home of the Masters, that he shot 88 sooner or later, 87 the subsequent, and completed with pars on 5 of his ultimate six holes.

“Between every shot, I wasn’t really thinking about hitting the golf ball,” Williams mentioned. “I was thinking about how I was going to tell my players and getting through this press conference. So, I knew then, that if you can’t even think about golf when you’re at Augusta National, the decision that I felt about not being the right person any longer, that was pretty much confirmed.”

Even those that are comparatively new to the recreation get Augusta National’s significance.

Grant Hill spent nearly 20 years in the NBA, performed his faculty basketball at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium, and has an Olympic gold medal.

But sure, to him, Augusta was a enormous deal.

“I’ve only been once and had the good fortune of visiting Butler Cabin with Jim Nantz,” Hill mentioned, referring to his Final Four tv broadcast companion. “Quite a treat, and I just started playing golf maybe four years ago.”

Boeheim had been to the Masters as a patron in 1997, when Tiger Woods received the inexperienced jacket for the first time.

He’s been again to play it twice since, the first time largely as a result of of that national-title win.

“We stayed there, played 36 holes and played the short course,” Boeheim mentioned. “It’s one of the few things that’s better than you anticipate, even though you anticipate an awful lot. The day we played there might have been only two or three groups on the golf course. It was unbelievable.”

He’s performed many of the world’s high programs. His tip for Masters patrons: Follow featured teams on the entrance, as a result of most individuals head to the again and discover seats round these greens. And one element that stands out from his previous visits to Augusta National solely reveals the reverence he has for the place.

“That first year Tiger won, I stayed and watched the ceremony,” Boeheim mentioned. “When it was over, I had to walk back across the golf course to where I parked. And there wasn’t a piece of paper anywhere on the golf course. Not a wrapper. Nothing. If you throw paper down on the ground at Augusta, you know you’re going to hell. You won’t make it to heaven.”

Yes, that is how a lot he reveres the home of the Masters.

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More AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports



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