Tiger: A true Master

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Apr 152002
 
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It’s kind of funny that I thought I could write a column on Saturday before the final round of the Masters, believing it would be worth anything when it runs on Tuesday.

Well, the weekend is over, and I can see clearly now that would have been really stupid. Here is some of what I had written:

This is the way I see it. We have possibly the best lineup of players in the top 10 we’ve ever had in the Woods era. Woods and Retief Goosen are locked at -11, with Vijay Singh two shots back and Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia and Phil Mickelson four shots back. This final round has the potential to be one of the best finishes golf fans have seen since the Watson/Nicklaus wars of the early ’80s.

And perhaps Sunday’s final round did have that potential. But I was very disappointed to learn these guys still have a long way to go before they can collectively bully Tiger Woods around.

I also wrote in that unprinted column that Tiger Woods was the hands down favorite to win the green jacket. But that’s really not hard to do. My seven-year-old cousin could have predicted that, and she thinks Tiger Woods is a character in “The Jungle Book.”

But predicting who was going to win really wasn’t my point. I wanted to explore exactly how the rest of the players would be able to live up to the task of stopping the greatest golfer of our generation. I know I once said Tiger Woods was washed up, but you all know I was joking.

For some reason, I actually thought one of these “golfers” would be able to shoot a solid round and at least scare Tiger into thinking for just five or 10 minutes he might lose this tournament.

Goosen choked right away and bogeyed on No. 1, while Tiger birdied, a two-stroke swing.

For a while it looked like Els and Singh might be able to harness the Tiger. They stayed one to three strokes behind him throughout the first nine holes. Then, as if both of them just decided they couldn’t handle it anymore, Singh had bogeys on the 11th and 14th, a triple-bogey on the 15th, while Els triple-bogeyed on the 13th.

The point is Tiger basically just had to show up. He shot a 71 in the final round. That is not masterful Tiger Woods golf. Masterful Tiger Woods golf would have been if one of these pansies had at least shot well enough to challenge him. Then he would have kicked it into high gear and birdied five out of the last six holes. He still would have won, but at least there would have been some excitement. At least he would have had to prove through bad assness how much he dominates the PGA whenever he decides to come out and play.

Instead, Tiger proved his dominance by just being there – just as effective, but not nearly as fun to watch. All he had to do was play conservatively with minimal bogeys and lots of pars. He laid up on the par-five 17th because he had no reason to try for the eagle. That’s a travesty because when Tiger Woods plays, we’re supposed to see him stick that 285-yard second shot onto the green and eagle the hole.

So I will not publish the Saturday column. Not because Tiger didn’t perform, but because the rest of them didn’t perform and the entire day shattered my expectations.

Now excuse me while I cry in my spilt milk.

Lee Miller is a senior journalism major. E-mail him to read his Saturday column.

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