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All appears well inside Masters bubble, but is it really?

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USA TODAY Sports’ Steve DiMeglio breaks down the top headlines to watch for at the 2017 Masters.
USA TODAY Sports

AUGUSTA, Ga. – The 2017 Masters tournament arrives here this week Tiger-less and controversy-free. One development is far more welcome than the other, but both are not necessarily new to the game of golf.

You know it’s a slow news day, week or year when Augusta National chairman Billy Payne spends as much time Wednesday talking about Augusta National’s enduring no-cell phone policy as he does about the prospect of bringing in more women members. You know life is good when the closest tempest in a tee box is the emailed-in rules violation involving the LPGA’s Lexi Thompson at a tournament 2,000 miles away.

The bubble we hear so much about in society these days truly sits atop Augusta, at least for this week. It’s green and lush and everyone appears to be happy. The game of golf is good — at least here, under the bubble.

MORE MASTERS COVERAGE:

Occasionally, though, reality enters through a crack. Although Tiger is missing his third Masters in four years due to back problems, the 20th anniversary of his first major victory has been duly noted. If you remember back to 1997, hope sprang eternal that Tiger was going to take golf in an entirely new direction, opening the flood gates for people of color and new golfers of every demographic group, with their resulting need to buy equipment, balls, golf shoes and the like.

Ah, not so fast. Payne was asked about the uneven record of growing the game over the past two decades and what he would do about it. While…

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