Apr 11

Farewell to the 2012 Masters: Phew!

The Masters 2012 A Cliff Hanger

This year’s Masters was the counterpart of overeating at Thanksgiving, something I know a lot about. It was rich, it was wonderful, and I couldn’t stop. I also believe that I had a lot of company. Today, I am exhausted, like millions of other fans, and once I’ve cleared the air with a few parting shots, I hope to avoid saying the word Masters with any regularity until about mid-March of 2013.

The Tiger talk will never go away, of course, and the debate rages over whether he’ll ever find himself. A bad tournament is not a career-ender, no matter how favored one is that week. Personally, I believe that predicting a Masters winner is more difficult than herding cats – it’s impossible, for what we think is logical so rarely happens. Given the capriciousness with which the game treats us all, I am amazed that anyone would elevate last week’s winner to this week’s favorite. That’s seven whole days, after all. Some analysts cite Jack’s last major, which he won at the age of 46. Tiger has ten years in which to do that. Others suggest that he is playing with a much older body following repeated left knee surgeries, and that it’s just not in the cards. Who knows? Nobody.

Paul Azinger reminded us that the Masters, the centerpiece of the golf world was aired in two hundred and twenty one countries, and that it might have been a good time for Tiger to make good on his resolutions to behave. It’s possible that if that happens, it will mean he is out of spirit. While he still cares about winning, I’m not sure he can behave, and no one’s going to make him. Nevertheless, the steely concentration has given way to reactive golf, but on to cheerier things.

Louis Oosterhuizen’s amazing “albatross” was a stunner, and stirred a curious question in me. With distances increasing, somebody – some day – is going to tee off on desert grass, downhill with a tailwind and ace a par 5. What shall we call it when it happens? Shall we keep trying to find bigger birds, or should we go by a quality scale, based on what a pleasure it is to do? Shall we call it a giant condor, or perhaps an angel? Britain is the land of great poets and playwrights – they’ll come up with something.

Oosterhuizen’s was not the first albatross at the Masters, by the way. Gene Sarazen did it in the fourth round (on the 15th) in ’35, and Bruce Devlin did it in the first round in ’67, on the 8th. In ’94, Jeff Maggert did it in the 4th round on 13. I read that the term albatross is a UK expression, but I don’t see how it qualifies as an expression anywhere, because it occurs so rarely.

And what of our winner, Gerry Lester Watson? Hey, Bubba! Nicknamed after famous NFLer Bubba Smith in ’78, this Floridian has won some tournaments since turning pro in 2003, including a Travelers Championship , a Zurich Classic and a Farmers Insurance. He also had a runner-up in the PGA. Apparently, he’s a man of faith, and a lot of fun, appearing in the PGA’s “Golf Boys” band with Hunter Mahan, Rickie Fowler and Ben Crane. One of the longest drivers on the tour, he suggests that he never dreamed of this happening, because his dreams weren’t this big. He’s just welcomed a new son, so this year does test the bounds of good fortune for the recent Arizona resident.

What struck me, however, was that upon winning this year’s Masters, dozens of the people rushing to congratulate and hug him were fellow players. He seems like a man who has gathered his share of esteem within his profession. For now, it’s on to other things before the stage is set again among the azaleas. It’s going to have to go some if it’s going to beat this year.

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