Sunday, April 12, 2009


I've given the Masters some grief in the past several years, for altering Augusta National to the point where the tournament was coming close to losing its identity. This year's tournament was a good reminder of why, even with the changes, the Masters remains one of the great events in all of sports.

I still think my past observations were well taken, but if you think about it, there really is no chance that the Masters will ever lose its identity. Every golf fan carries with them an indelible mental picture of every hole on the back nine, and there really is no other course - Pebble Beach probably comes closest - about which that can be said. The risk-reward quotient is just remarkable. Sometimes, all that stands between an eagle and a double-bogey is luck.

And today, we were treated to a little bit of everything - the remarkable drama of the Tiger-Phil pairing, when for one brief moment it appeared that the two were going to run away with it. And then, just when it seemed as if they were an unstoppable force that would only end with one of them wearing a green jacket, they butchered the 17th and 18th holes, proving that even legends are sometimes mortal.

And then came sports' equivalent to tragedy, with Kenny Perry taking a two-stroke lead into the final two holes - after one of the great shots in history on 16 - only to lose it all with some truly awful play on 17 and 18. And in a playoff that felt anti-climactic, Angel Cabrera coming back into the fairway from behind a tree in order to extend the match by a hole, and just wait for Perry's next disastrous shot.

With two majors under his belt, you can't take anything away from Cabrera. But this will probably be remembered as the Masters that Kenny Perry lost.

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