If you didn’t get caught up in the relentless drama and crackling excitement of that final round of the Masters Sunday, you need to cut your dosage. And have someone check you for a pulse.
This is a place where memorable Sundays are pretty standard but this one rocked.
One reason - one huge reason - is that the faceless men who set up the course nailed it. They determine how the course will play, how long the fairway grass will be, how fast the greens will be, how slick the aprons around the greens will be and where the pins will be cut.
They presented the field with a Masters course that was as close to perfect as Augusta National has ever played. Plenty difficult but not unreasonable.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
Tiger Woods, starting from back in the pack, got the thunder rolling with a 31 on the front nine that shot him up the leaderboard but his insufferable putter betrayed him on the back. Charl Schwartzel, the eventual winner, holed a once-in-a-century chip shot across a couple of counties on the first hole for birdie, then started showing off, knocking his second shot on the third into the cup for an eagle two. Those, too, got the gallery whooping and the for the rest of the day, great bursts of cheering erupted again and again. It was like listening to a thunderstorm.
Meanwhile, 21-year-old Rory McIlroy, who had led through the first three rounds, was dawdling along, managing to stay up front, looking a little jittery on the greens but still OK. Until he hooked his tee shot on the tenth hole into the trees and saw it ricochet between two cabins that sit well back. It is probably safe to say that no one, not even a member with a severe hangover, has ever hit one there. From there, the kid came apart. He made seven and disappeared into the ranks of the also-rans, four-putting, driving into a creek, running on empty. It was not fun to watch. My wife said, "He needs a hug."
People bounced up and down the leaderboard like popcorn. Adam Scott, voted the best looking player on tour by his peers, grabbed a lead and we began to think how nice he would look in a green jacket. Then Jason Day barged in and Geoff Ogilvy made five straight birdies and
No way Schwartzel was going to win. He didn’t fit the image. His name was too hard to spell. But lordy, he can putt. And he did. And he birdied the last four holes.
True to Masters tradition, this interloper got a long, loud standing ovation as he approached the last green. Didn’t matter that he wasn’t Tiger or Phil. He had won the day. And what a day it was.