Lijit Ad Wijit

Saturday, April 7, 2007

This is not the Masters

This Sunday The Masters will not be broadcast on CBS.
Phil Mickelson will not out-birdie Ernie Els to win his first major.
Tiger Woods is not going to erupt in disgust after failing to reach 20 under par.
Kirk Triplett and Padraig Harrington are not going to make aces in back-to-back pairings on the 16th hole.
If Saturday is any indication of what the final round holds at Augusta National Golf Club then I’m expecting Hooty Johnson to rename the tournament the Pre-US Open Invitational.
Brett Wetterich has already become the scaled-down version (figuratively and physically) of Jason Gore. Reteif Goosen had the low score on a day that saw the highest 54-hole lead in tournament history.
If that weren’t alarming enough to draw a parallel, Tiger shot even, moved up the leaderboard, and will be playing in the last pairing.
He will be paired with Australian Stuart Appleby, who stands alone at two over par—another reason to disregard this tournament as less of a tradition and more of one unlike any other.
You see, an Australian has yet to win the Masters. Seems they can’t swim with the sharks. Or was it the Shark that drowned?
In another twist, the players are looking greener than the course. A layout known for its azaleas and billiard-like surfaces is turning browner than the dirt over the tomb inside of which Bobby Jones is currently doing barrel-rolls.
There’s little to suggest that he envisioned a tournament scoring average near four over par with no amateurs making the cut.
Now there are tee boxes on properties Jones didn’t even own when the course was constructed.
That’s debatable, but you see the problem.
The Masters truly is a tradition; no cart paths, no electronic scoreboards and lifetime exemptions to champions. Now those lifetime exemptions are more like an exile. Billy Casper played his final Masters two years ago and didn’t break 100.
Arnold Palmer played his 50th and final Masters in 2003 and nearly broke something else—his hip.
The tournament is named the Masters because those are the people it honors—the masters. Not of the 21st century, but of all time.
That’s not to say it should be a casual get-together where all the gents post up at the 19th Hole for tea and scones, but Jones probably had higher hopes for his tournament.
Tomorrow’s outcome may be in doubt—sort of, ahem Tiger by three—but the results are not. The winner will not finish under par, the low-amateur who joins the winner (Woods) in Butler Cabin will have gone two days without playing to receive his medal, and Johnny Miller might show up in the 18th tower thinking this is the US Open.
Ideally, we would like to think that Bobby Jones will be there in spirit tomorrow, but he probably won’t.
The ideals of his tournament are as dead as he is and he’ll be better off watching NASCAR.

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