ATLANTA, Ga., April 10, 2013 — It’s Masters time again in Augusta, Ga., that event heralded along with the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC as the true harbingers of spring, and the golf tour deforce this year will again be both interesting and emotion-charged.
In recent days, “Bubba” Watson made national headlines when it was revealed that in an interview regarding the wearing of the legendary Green Jacket of the Masters, “Bubba” wrapped his tiny baby boy in it. Tearing up as any emotional dad might do, he recalled how he felt cradling his tiny son in this marvelous piece of fabric. Short of the Shroud of Turin, in all honesty, what other piece of cloth could convey such emotion?
And then there is the one and only Eldrick “Tiger” Woods who will be back again. The sports world loves a winner, a hero, someone so outstanding he defies the limits of mortal people and their dreams, talents, and moral fiber. Such was Tiger.
Was — because then came his downfall, which the sports world and others loved equally as much. All was well until Thanksgiving 2009, when he had that pas de deux with a fire hydrant, storming away from his house, his picture-perfect wife, Elin Nordegren, and young son.
It was then Woods’ diverse and duplicitous associations with a bevy of beauties came to light, his indiscretions so numerous that the PR bleeding could not be staunched.
Perhaps poor Tiger was not on the prowl; it was these loved-starved, morality challenged females who willingly lay down before him, each believing she was the “only one” receiving of such beneficence.
Most of Tiger’s sponsors disappeared along with most of his athletic ability. He lost tournaments, badly; putted and drove, badly. Eventually, after a messy divorce, he slipped away into oblivion to find himself and turn back into a hero.
The other thing the sports world loves is a redemptive winner: he who confesses his sins, makes an attempt to atone for them, and then comes back to claim the crown that he thinks always was his alone. And so the world turns.
This year’s Masters features 94 golfers from around the world among its magnolias and spring flowers, and they are big names to be sure: Stewart Cink, Padraigh Harrington, Steve Stricker, Rory McIlroy. You name them, all are here, including a 14-year old Chinese golfer, Tianlang Guan, who was invited thanks to a win in the Asia-Pacific Amateur Golf Tournament. Not all will make the cut, but the initial line-up is indeed impressive.
Impressive as always is the beautiful course, its strange obstacles and weird traps. One golfer was heard saying he was going to closely examine the Number 10 area where last year a shot was made out of a tree in order to survive. Few courses can claim that type of interest.
This year, for the first time, there will be ladies wearing the August National Golf Course green membership jacket. After a terribly long wait and fantastic national pressure which,of course, had NO impact on the venerable (aging) white male members, two females were announced this year: Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State, and Darla Moore, a scion in the banking industry, and a friend of William W. “Hootie” Johnson, mainstay of the old boys club. Both Rice and Johnson are from the Palmetto State of South Carolina.
It was only recently that speculation centered on Virginia “Ginny” Rometty, named as CEO of IBM, a major sponsor of the Masters, and, of course, such speculation was the kiss of death with the old boys’ club and she still remains not a member. It is anticipated that IBM’s monetary support will continue anyway.
But the main impact, the center of attention at the tournament will, again be on the eye of the Tiger. There will also be interest as to whether his current companion, Olympic and World Cup skier Lindsay Vonn, will be on hand. Many credit her for Woods’ turnaround on the golf course. She has been heckled mercilessly at recent tournaments, but she has shaken it off, considering it par for the course.
So the sun will hopefully shine, the grasses will be as smooth and pure as the proverbial baby’s bottom, and the pack will be winnowed down to a relative precious few, all of who will be vying for a little attention and that bright green jacket.
And Tiger will still be the number one draw, proving that for once and all, we are a forgiving group. C’est la sports vie.
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