Rooting for an Old Master
It’s that time of the year when we get our golf clubs out of cold storage and head out to our local courses like Rock Harbor, Shenandoah Valley GC, and Bowling Green for the season’s first round. And more than likely, we imagine ourselves as contenders on the final day of The Masters. (Remember Bill Murray’s character, Carl Spackler, in Caddyshack: “Cinderella story, tears in his eyes, about to win the Masters.”)
The Masters, “a tradition like no other”, begins this week at the hallowed Augusta National golf course in Georgia. Augusta is the course “Bobby Jones built” and is challenging andazaleas and dogwoods are in full bloom, and as always, Augusta national is a symphony of color. As the name implies, the Masters of Golf gather here every spring in hopes of donning the coveted green jacket at day’s end on Sunday.
Much is being written this week about the 1986 Masters. It’s the 30th anniversary of Jack Nicklaus’ 6th and final Masters victory at age 46. Which brings me to today’s topic. The favorites to win this week will be defending champ Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, or another of golf’s young guns. I root for an old guy. I always hope against hope that an “old lion” will return for one more taste of victory, much like “The Golden Bear” did 30 years ago this week.
In the 90’s I always rooted for Jack to win one more. In the 70’s I was not a Tom Watson Fan (probably because of his rivalry with Nicklaus), but as he became longer in the tooth, I cheered him on at the Masters, when it became apparent that Jack’s better days were behind him. You might remember that not too long ago Tom was a short putt away from wining the British Open at age 59!
In recent years my “Old Master” of choice has been Freddie Couples. “Boom Boom” has a green jacket to his name, and despite his advancing golf age, still relies on guile and course knowledge of Augusta National to remain competitive at the Masters. Unfortunately, back problems have prevented Couples from putting together 4 solid rounds in a row. This year he will be skipping the Masters all together.
So I guess the mantel of “Old Master” goes to one Phil Mickleson. The once-youthful Mickleson, known for his bouncing stride and goofy smile, is well into his 40s now and is a 3-time Masters champion who still hits the ball a long way & loves the Augusta National crowds. It is certainly no stretch of the imagination to see Phil seated in Butler Cabin come Sunday evening.
I suppose at some point in the not-too-distant future, those of us who root for the old guys will be willing Tiger Woods on to another Masters win. WHAT!!?? Tiger?! That young, fist-pumping, cursing “whippersnapper” whose length off the tee forced Augusta National to “Tiger-proof” the course? Say it ain’t so!
We’re all getting older…
That’s it from The Booth. Enjoy the Masters!