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The Masters Tournament 2020

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18 hours ago, Post Oak said:

Sorry for the long post [not sure how to spoiler] but this is a copy of Joe Posnanski writing about Tiger and time for The Athletic

Joe is maybe the best sportswriter in America..

It's worth your time but it'll make you miss the Masters

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

 

 

Today was supposed to be the first day of the Masters. Ah. I so love Thursdays at Augusta. So much hope. So much joy. If there is one hopeful thing I can say about all this, it has been a reminder to not take for granted all those wonderful little things about sports and life.

Because time has little meaning while we’re in isolation, it seems almost impossible to believe that it was only a year ago that Tiger Woods won the Masters on that crazy final day. That feels like 40 years ago. But it was indeed a year ago. And when it happened, I was lost in reverie, and I went from the television set straight to my computer and wrote this piece, which appeared originally on my blog.


People still look past me. It baffles me that still happens after all these years. Yes, I know I am petite and pretty and, if you will allow a modicum of immodesty, I ooze with Southern charm. If I were in Hollywood, I am sure I would be Doris Day. I apologize if that’s an old reference. I am old. I fear that I have not kept up with the times.

People sense my friendliness. That is good. I am friendly. I welcome everyone. My bridge is always open. I optimistically set the table for two every time.

But I am not to be underestimated.

My name is Golden Bell. I am the 12th hole at Augusta National.

I am 155 yards long, and I am surrounded by azaleas and sand and water and trees. I am less a golf hole and more a vacation spot. My likeness hangs in offices and living rooms around the world. I look as innocuous and dreamy as a postcard from Hawaii.

But I am to be taken seriously. The winds swirl unpredictably around me. They say I was built on an American Indian burial ground. I do not talk about my past. But I can tell you that I have broken many hearts.

I broke Arnold Palmer’s heart. That was in ’59, I guess. I revered Arnie, and over time he came to revere me, but he was still young then, full of spirit and too much certainty. He led when he arrived at my door. He promptly hit his ball into the water and made triple bogey and lost the Masters. I felt heartsick for him. But I am not easy.

Time after time in the years since then, they have come to me with a sparkle of glory and a touch of arrogance reflecting in their eyes, and they have looked beyond me, to opportunities that await, to a dream they have had had since they were children, to a jacket that they long to wear. And they have then walked off my green broken. I have crushed so many hopes. Seve Ballesteros. Gary Player. Greg Norman. Jordan Spieth. I cannot remember them all.

It happens every year.

On this Sunday, the hopers and dreamers began arriving much earlier in the day than I expected. They don’t usually show up until the late afternoon, as the sun falls behind the magnolia and juniper trees, but this Sunday they started marching up in groups of three in the morning. I believe the threat of bad weather brought them out early.

The names change. The faces don’t. In the early afternoon, a powerful man named Brooks Koepka showed up. There is no doubt in my mind that Brooks has the strength to hit a golf ball miles over me. But I watched instead as he hit the ball without confidence. Without belief. I could tell instantly that his shot would land short and roll back into the water. I tried to stop it. I always try to stop it. But there is not much I can do. Once, I recall, I was able to stop the golf ball for a friendly sort named Fred Couples. But ever since then the groundskeepers have kept my grass shorter to prevent such charity from happening again.

No, there was nothing I could do to save Koepka’s ball.

The same was true for Ian Poulter’s golf ball. Poulter is English, from what I can tell, and he also hit a high, equivocal shot that bounced well short and rolled back into Rae’s Creek. Later, the same thing happened to a tall fellow named Tony Finau. Each time the ball dropped into the creek, I saw the ripples and heard the groans that have always tormented me.

I am haunted by waters.

Then the next group, the last group, came up. A man with a musical name, Francesco Molinari, walked to the tee. What a name. I have grown to love beautiful names — Ian Baker-Finch, José María Olazábal, Jimmy Demaret.

And standing next to him, there was an older golfer wearing red. He had a familiar face, and I couldn’t take my eyes off him.


There are, from my vantage point, only a few who have ever turned this place inside out. Arnie was one of those; he was so captivating and fetching and affable. The fans at Augusta loved him dearly, fervently; they even called themselves “Arnie’s Army.” I often thought of myself as a member of Arnie’s Army.

There was Jack Nicklaus. I will not lie, he was my favorite. I don’t know if the fans loved Jack with quite the zeal and warmth that they loved Arnie, but I know they admired him. He was admirable. He kept his head. He never beat himself. He played the right shot again and again.

And Jack always made me feel seen. I’ve heard that he called me the toughest little hole in the world. That is the most meaningful thing anyone has ever said about me. I have been called beautiful so often that it has lost its meaning. But tough! Yes! It’s true, I am tough. Jack used to say that he always aimed for the same spot — to that safe space of land between my front and back bunkers — even if it meant aiming away from the flag.

Jack didn’t just admire me. He respected me.

There were others, too, men who inspired ear-shattering roars, Sam and Tom and Seve and Phil and so on.

But Tiger Woods is different from all of them.

I remember when he first came to Augusta. He was only an amateur then, a teenager, but full of unimaginable promise and talent and skill. (I heard that Jack predicted Tiger would win as many green jackets as he and Arnie had won combined. That, by my count, would be 10.) I’m told that when they asked Tiger what he hoped to accomplish his first time around at the hallowed Masters, he said, without hesitation: Win.

It was a brazen and presumptuous thing for a young man to say — the correct answer apparently being something to the effect of “I’m just happy to be here” — and I am sure some of the older men harrumphed and grumbled. But modesty didn’t fit Tiger or his talents. He came to conquer, and when he was 21, he did. He thundered through this golf course like no one ever had before. When he was done, records were shattered, imaginations were detonated, and I overheard people say that they would need to change Augusta National just to accommodate Tiger’s prodigious abilities.

They did change Augusta National considerably, lengthening some holes, adding contours and rises in various places, reworking various parts of the course. But they did not change me — if you will allow me to speak immodestly again, I am timeless — and they did not prevent Tiger Woods from winning again and again. He won four times before he turned 30.

The roars for Tiger were unlike those even for Arnie and Jack. I think that’s because Tiger wasn’t loved like Arnie, and he wasn’t lionized like Jack. No, there was something else about him, something more aspirational. I am not sure I can describe it — I am no poet, I am the subject of poetry — but as I understand it, Tiger took the crowd to a place where golf had never gone. He was less a golfer and more an astronaut. He hit shots no one had ever hit. He saw possibilities where others saw tree branches and double bogeys. He brought order to a disorderly game.

Anyway, that’s how I have heard it described.

Then, one day, something with Tiger Woods changed. One hears things, but I am not one to partake in rumors. All I knew was that Tiger no longer commanded the game the way he had. The crowds still shouted for him, but their cheers were less confident and more nervous. He grew older. He seemed to have a different swing every time I saw him. And some years, he did not show up at all.

I did not expect to see Tiger Woods compete again.

The seasons do not turn backward.


When Sunday’s final group approached, I glanced at the little walking leaderboard and saw that the Italian with the beautiful name, Francesco Molinari, had 13 red. And Tiger Woods had 11 red. The Masters was in the balance.

And I waited with hope.

Molinari hit first. He reached back with his club, and I offered a silent prayer for him like I do for every golfer. But as soon as he hit the ball, I could see that he had made the eternal mistake. He aimed toward my flag. And he lacked conviction. The ball fluttered in the wind, landed short, rolled back into the creek, and those agonizing groans came. I saw the crestfallen look on Molinari’s face. I have seen that look so many times. I never get used to it.

Then Tiger Woods stepped to the tee.

I looked at him closely. Was this really Tiger Woods, the bold and impertinent kid who believed that nothing was beyond his powers? He looked different. He moved more gingerly. His face was wider. His weather-worn visage suggested that he had seen things. I began to say my silent prayer for him … but then I stopped because I noticed something unusual, something I had not seen in, well, in a long time.

Deference.

He aimed his shot away from the flag.

Tiger hit it to that space between my front and back bunker. The ball landed and settled 40 feet from the hole, dry and safe. It was the shot that young golfers feel too proud and too strong to hit, the shot contenders refuse because they want more.

It was Jack Nicklaus’ shot. And now, it was Tiger Woods’ shot.

And I knew right then that Tiger would go on to win the Masters.

I could tell from the roars that he did go on to win. I settled in and just listened like I do every Masters Sunday. They were louder than any I have heard in more than 30 years. I have since heard that as he walked off the last hole, Tiger was seen hugging his children, who were not born when he won here the first time. And I heard he took a look up to the sky to think about his father, Earl, who passed away a dozen years ago.

I am not capable of tears. Or at least I didn’t think I was capable of tears.

If there’s one thing I have learned as a most famous golf hole, it is that time, like Rae’s Creek, rushes in one direction. You cannot expect it to stop for anything or anyone. And yet, I’ve been around Augusta long enough to know that every now and again, on special days, time can stop, or at least pause. On Sunday, it stopped for Tiger Woods. I think that means time stopped for all of the rest of us, too.

 

 

 

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51 minutes ago, Post Oak said:

Verne Lundquist was so good

to get the call on Jack's putt on 17 in 1986 and Tiger's chip in on 16 in 2005 is pretty damn cool.

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23 hours ago, Steel Shank said:

Austin High '58

Yep. Did my dad’s high school football and basketball games in Dallas in late 60s while a WFAA sports anchor and doing Cowboys radio work. Dude has seen / called some of the best games out there, including my dad’s 3 TD performance against Woodrow Wilson and 22 point effort over Bryan Adams. Jack and Tiger up there too. 

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I'd like to give an official fuck you to KHOU for airing some mega church bullshit instead of the sweet stylings of Jim Nantz.

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I know it may be recency bias but last year's was the best.  Jack in 86, Tiger 97, and Phil 10 were all great but last year turned lifetime elite professional golfers into complete fan boys.  

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Aqua Buddha said:

I know it may be recency bias but last year's was the best.  Jack in 86, Tiger 97, and Phil 10 were all great but last year turned lifetime elite professional golfers into complete fan boys.  

Yep, Faldo said it himself. "That'll be the greatest scene in golf, forever."

 

Edited by LonghornSean

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5 hours ago, Aqua Buddha said:

I know it may be recency bias but last year's was the best.  Jack in 86, Tiger 97, and Phil 10 were all great but last year turned lifetime elite professional golfers into complete fan boys.  

Jack's was better, by a small margin. 

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