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Sports Commentary 4/11/13

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Looks at the Masters

FOUR DAYS IN APRIL

Golf’s grandest moment is underway on a magnificent stage of the south that’s lined with magnolias and pine needles and turns at Amen Corner, where dreams become realities, or, sometimes, go to die.  The 77th edition of the Masters has barely begun but already we have one player eliminated from contention.  In a tournament more steeped in tradition than any other, one tradition has always held true.  The winner of the Wednesday Par Three Championship has never gone on to win the main event.  Ted Potter Jr. can at least hope he makes the cut to the weekend, that has been extended from the low 44 and ties to the low 50 and ties, with the traditional “major” rule in place that any golfer within 10 strokes of the lead, if it extends beyond 50 players, makes it to the weekend rounds.  The tournament that honors tradition more than any other now gives way to the altering traditions of the game itself.  The PGA Tour now incorporates the events once known as the “Fall Tour” into the regular season, which now begins in October and adds six events, who’s winners will qualify for the Masters, those six new entries leading to the padded cut figure while reducing the number of automatic qualifiers for the subsequent Masters.  In the past the top 16 finishers from one Masters earned automatic invitations to the next.  Now only the top 12 will be automatically carried over while automatic qualifying for top 30 status on the PGA Tour money list is eliminated to insure that other automatic qualifying traditions can be kept.  Among the traditions that will never change are the moments that are indelibly etched into the history of the event.  Arnie hitching up his belt and charging.  A Mickelson six iron off the pine straw at 13 that turned the tournament one way, a Greg Norman tee shot clanging off a tree at 10 that turned it another, opening the door for Jack Nicklaus to claim one of his record six green jackets.  A Tiger chip at 16 that had just enough roll to get to the hole, and barely, by a dimple, drop in.  The spot most sought out by those making this year’s pilgrimage to the most hallowed cathedral of the sport is a pine needled path buried in the trees at number 10, to, for one moment, feel the rush that settled in as Bubba Watson drew his wedge and drew a shot nearly 90 degrees to victory in a playoff, a moment that has taken it’s place in the tradition of an event that honors tradition more than any other.  The course has it’s quirks, some say that set up better for lefties than righties, the membership had to be dragged into the 21st century and sometimes the reverence can be a bit overwhelming, but, warts and all, for four days in April, it’s perfect.  It’s the Masters.  With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray


 

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