We can all get annoyed with the cloying music, the levels of pretension, the "tradition unlike any other" nonsense. Yet, year in and year out, there is just no doubt that the Masters is the greatest of the major championships, and one of the great events in all of sport.
A few years back the changes they made to Augusta National threatened to turn the tournament into a Spring U.S. Open (don't get me wrong - I love the U.S. Open, but it has its own identity, one that is much different than that of the Masters), but apparently the stodgy old men in the green jackets remembered that what makes the Masters the Masters is the risk-reward nature of the most famous holes - meaning those on the back nine. If you don't have golfers going for the green in two and putting for eagles on the 13th and 15th holes; well, then you don't have the Masters.
Yesterday, Phil Mickelson turned in one of those "back nines for the ages" that people like Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus are famous for. So he finds himself one stroke behind, and a heavy favorite over the man he trails, Peter Hanson. But you never know about the Masters - if you'd asked me this time yesterday who I'd pick to win, I would have said Rory McIlroy or Sergio Garcia. But those two ended yesterday a combined 8-over par, and for them it is once again, "wait until next year." So the obvious choice today is to go with Phil, and that's what I'll do.
A couple of quick hits:
- Tiger Woods needs to get his act together, and quickly. And I'm not talking about his game; I'm talking about the way he conducts himself on the golf course. The time is long past for fans (like myself) to excuse Tiger's asinine behavior. Just ask yourself - can you imagine Palmer, Player, Nicklaus, or Watson kicking a club on the golf course? Of course not. Whether he realizes it or not, Tiger is endangering his legacy. It's time for him to get it together.
- The Masters iPad App? Pure awesomeness. Watching bonus coverage in HD of Amen Corner and the 15th and 16th holes? Amazing. Kudos to anyone and everyone involved in that little project.