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Nothing compares to Masters tournament

Ron Green Sr.
Column

AUGUSTA, Ga. When God created heaven and earth, he stood back, looked at it, liked it but felt it needed a little something more to make those emotions he gave us really hum. And so he added some tweaks like rainbows and sunsets and as an afterthought, he threw in golf.

OK, I made that up.

Wander around the Augusta National golf course during this, Masters week, and you think stuff like that.

You have all these green hills, that little creek, all those clouds of azaleas, all those tall pines with dogwoods at their feet, all that wisteria dancing in the breeze. Guys in green jackets they earned when they won the Masters decorate the lawn like living statues.

You take it all in and figure it's pretty close to heaven.

And that's just the stage. Tiger's here, Phil, Rory and just about everybody else who matters in golf nowadays are here for the Masters commencing Thursday.

All of it is wrapped in history and tradition and something you might call spiritual.

“You feel it when you drive into the place,” said Billy Casper, one of those living statues, who wears the jacket of the 1970 champion and who comes back every year to just be part of the Masters. “It never changes.”

I had read a story about Casper's personal look at whatever it is. It happened last year. I asked him to repeat the story.

He said he was sitting on the veranda behind the clubhouse talking with some people but for a moment, he found himself alone.

“The sky was perfectly clear,” he said, “but at that moment, a single white cloud came down the first fairway and went on over the clubhouse.

“I thought ‘All those boys are in that cloud.' I could feel the spirits of Jones, Sarazen, Hogan, all of them.

“And I thought, some day I'm going to be in that cloud, too.”

Ben Crenshaw, a two-time champion and a man who mirrors the soul of golf, has spoken of events in the Masters over the years as “unexplainable” and “magical.”

This place broke Greg Norman's heart. He finished second three times but never won. Still, he said, “There's no other golf tournament anywhere in the world that generates that type of feeling. It's just the wonderful mystique that this tournament can create.”

You can almost count on something to blow your mind or touch your heart. Ben Hogan shooting 30 on the back nine at age 64. Jack Nicklaus winning at age 46. Larry Mize's chip in. Johnny Miller shooting 65-66 on the weekend and still finishing second. Seve Ballesteros weeping after he three-putted his way out of a playoff. Bubba Watson weeping after he won with a crazy good shot.

There's something about the place…

Ron Green Sr. is a retired Observer sports columnist.
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