A ‘Masterful’ Game in so Many Ways
One of the most commonly used clichés in sports is the so-called “Game of the Ages.”
But there can really be no better way to describe what happened at the 77th Masters Golf Tournament on Sunday.
The Masters is a tournament unto itself. The course was designed by one of the greatest players in golf, Bobby Jones. It is the only one of the four major tournaments in golf to be played at the same course every year.
This tournament is so significant that even some of the holes, meaning the fairways and greens, have been named.
It was on this setting where a true “Game of the Ages” ensued and didn’t end until a second sudden death hole. And when it was over, the two who did battle showed true sportsmanship that sometimes can be so lacking into today’s competitive world.
For much of the fourth and final round, the Green Jacket, one of the most coveted honors in sports, was ready to be fitted again for the Argentinian Angel Cabrera. The 43-year-old had won before, and knew all of the nuances of this magnificent course.
Cabrera’s style consisted of slashing, powerful drives and fairway shots, followed by bold, yet calculating command of the green. His shots left him ripe for many birdies and at the very least, pars.
Then the rains came, then went, then came again. Greens that seemed easy to tame became wet, slow and impossible to figure out. The Aussie Adam Scott had a troubling front nine and couldn’t buy a birdie with his putting. Still, he stayed in contention with nine pars in a row and except for No. 1, not another single bogey from his tall, controversial putter that could be banned in the next year or so.
Brent Snedeker had been the co-leader with Cabrera coming into the final round, but he struggled in putting and fell apart on the fairways.
In the midst of the battle came another Aussie, Jason Day. With some incredible shots, including hitting the hole with a sandtrap shot in the second hole, he took the lead early in the back nine.
But Cabrera fought back, maintaining the style that had carried him so far. He bogeyed 10, but the real disaster for him hit on 13, where his approach shot came up short and rolled into the creek, leaving him with a bogey 6.
Meanwhile, Day, who birdied 13, 14 and 15, bogeyed 16 and 17, and slipped behind.
At the same time, Scott birdied 13 and 15, setting up the drama on 18. As the rains became harder, Scott finally found the touch when he needed it most to roll in a 25-footer and gain a one-stroke lead over Cabrera. He celebrated with his caddie. Then came Cabrera’s turn.
From 163 yards and with very strong rain pounding down on him, Cabrera took his 7-iron and blasted the ball, landing it 3 feet from the cup. He easily knocked it in, setting up the sudden death playoff.
On the first hole, at No. 18, Cabrera had a chance to birdie the hole, but the ball just slid by. Both he and Scott ended up with pars.
Moving on to the 10th hole, Cabrera had a 15-footer that came up short. Scott then coolly rolled in a 12-footer to win the Masters.
Cabrera quickly came up to Scott, hugged him and congratulated him. Both men had shown tremendous respect for each other in those final holes as they would acknowledge one another with friendly gestures.
Cabrera’s reaction to ending in second place? “That’s golf. Golf gives and takes. Sometimes you make those putts, sometimes you miss them.”
Sure, Cabrera said he wanted to win, but he was able to put this incredible drama into such a simple, rational perspective.
For Scott, the win resolved so many things personally and for his country, Australia. Never had an Aussie won the Masters. Greg Norman was known for never quite succeeding, and now that monkey, or should I say koala, is off Scott’s back. Australians worldwide are celebrating. Scott is now a national hero.
And also gone is the fact that Scott had never won a major before. At 32, Scott has been quietly discussed as someone who didn’t have the drive to win the big tournaments.
Scott showed on Sunday that he had the drive, the chips and the putts finally to become one of golf’s truly elite members.
Image Credit: BBC Sports