Do you mind if we hang out in Masters world for a few more days? The jacket has been placed on the shoulders of Angel Cabrera and the betting pools have all been figured out, but I'm still feeling a bit of euphoria over an amazing week of golf in which I really had no part in, except to watch it through a computer monitor or TV screen...and to love every moment of it.
I got myself all set up with soda (Diet Coke with lime), some chips, and leftover turkey...no need to find the remote, I wouldn't be turning the channel. Anyone that knows me knows that the next 4 to 6 hours are "me time". Besides the TV, I had my computer on watching Masters.com so I could keep an eye on a few other players, too. You knew right away we'd be watching the Phil & Tiger show all the way through 18, and I wanted to see Steve Stricker at least once!!
The charges by Mickelson and Tiger made things exciting, and watching the leaders clinging to their positions made me nervous. It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Kenny Perry, so I was rooting for him all the way. But a Campbell win would have helped me another pool I was in, so I was cheering for him, too. The slow start was tough to watch, and I feared we might just see a Mickelson/Woods playoff if these guys couldn't get it going. I stood up and clapped when Campbell's putt went in on 12, and again when Perry stuffed it on 16. I don't know what happened to Perry's chip on 17, but even with a bogey, I had a good feeling for him (I guess sort of like my refrigerator-ugh). I thought for sure Cabrera was going to shoot himself right out of contention, but he drained all the putts he needed to and darn it if he wasn't still in it coming to the 18th.
I begged Perry to take 3-wood on the tee on 18, but he pulled out the driver. I guess there's something about going with what you feel confident with. I wonder if he second guesses himself now. After the awesome birdie at 16 I never thought we'd see bogey-bogey-playoff.
The playoff started just as I had hoped, but all 3 second shots were not at all what I expected. I could feel the pain in my stomach - the sympathy pains for the guys, and me. It wasn't going to be pretty. Cabrera gets a great break and makes a great shot - Perry makes the clutch chip. Unfortunately, Campbell didn't fare as well.
I collapsed onto the couch after Campbell missed his 4 footer on the first playoff hole. I didn't see that coming. But I regrouped and paced as Perry and Cabrera went to #10. Seeing Perry's second shot go left, I could see the writing on the wall...and Cabrera's great (but dangerous) approach all but sealed his fate (and mine). I ended up 7th in the pool. Shoot.
I didn't watch the green jacket ceremony or watch any recaps. My brain was tired and my heart was full of great memories...and that was enough for me. I took off my new Footjoys that I wore all day and was glad I finally got them stretched out (just a few spike marks on the carpet!). I stretched out on the couch and spent awhile just daydreaming about dogwoods and azaleas. It was a good day.
We were given a great show by an amazingly talented Masters field this year...thanks guys!!
One other thing before packing the Masters away for another year...I got an amazing email from the son of one of our local golfers - he told this story about a trip with his dad, Wayne. I have known Wayne for a long time. He made me one of my first sets of irons just out of high school (copies of Ping Eye 2's), and he just happens to be one of the nicest guys on the planet. Wayne is passionate about golf, and hands down his favorite PGA tour player is Paul Azinger. (Back when I was managing our clubhouse, I named our chicken sandwich "The Zinger" in honor of Wayne's admiration of Paul)
In 1997, Wayne's son, Charlie, got tickets to the Tuesday practice round of the Masters through a lottery. Four of them made their way from Minnesota to Augusta, and even though there were dozens of golf stars there, Charlie knew the day would not be complete without seeing Wayne's favorite player. They spent the morning watching guys hitting on the range, and finally, after a few hours, Charlie spotted the name Azinger on a bag.
Zinger hit balls for about 45 minutes and left the range. They decided to follow. He wasn't scheduled to start his practice round until 1pm, so they thought they might find him around the clubhouse. They lost track of them for a minute and then Wayne said, "I think he snuck through that hedge". They weren't sure if they should, but they did, too. And, as Charlie described it, they entered the Garden of Eden, the par-3 course. Soon they found themselves walking along with Zinger, his caddie, and his coach - all access, no ropes. They talked a bit with Paul, observed him working with his coach, and just took it all in. A magic moment for Wayne, one I'm sure he won't ever forget.
There's more to the story, but I think you get the picture - the Masters makes dreams come true.
Reading about Wayne's was the icing on my Masters cake.
Filed under: Masters, Tiger, playoff, Phil Mickelson, Chad Campbell, Paul Azinger, Kenny Perry