The Masters doesn’t just produce the magical. It delivers the sometimes mystical.
Ben Crenshaw should not have won just days after burying his mentor Harvey Penick. Phil Mickelson was no choice to win with his breast cancer stricken wife battling for her life.
Think of the shots! Bubba Watson’s banana-ball recovery hook from the deep magnolias to deliver a tearfilled win in sudden death. Tiger’s banked chip shot – “in your life!” – with the Nike logo pausing for a close-up before dropping in.
A washed up Nicklaus tearing the field to shreds with a back-nine 30 at the age of 46.
You can now put Sergio Garcia winning on what would have been the great Seve Ballesteros’ 60th birthday to that list. “You know Sergio?” Sure we do. Sergio, the human choke. The petulant kid who once threw his shoe at a sponsor sign in frustration. The virtuoso ballstriker with a mini-golf rental putter. The very guy who himself once basically said: “I’ll never win here.”
That Sergio died on Sunday. What we witnessed was the stuff of pure golfing magic. Only at Augusta.
When Sergio put the 15th hole in a choke-hold with a monstrous drive, then nearly stuffed a nuclear 8-iron, the ghost of Gene Sarazen slammed his head on the casket lid.
Despite weak-willed, short birdie misses at 2, 8, and 9 and again on 16 and 18, Sergio kept coming. Not only that, but he bear-wrestled the car back on the track three times from the pine-straw. On 10, 11, and most miraculously on 13.
His swirl-in winner in sudden death was not just poetic and beautiful, it was the best thing of all in sports: deserved.
This was Sergio’s 74th start in a major. Only 2 other players have played more majors, without a win. It was fashionable to say “never” in Sergio’s case. Hell, El Nino “The Child” now had salty specks in his stubble, and a lot less agronomy under his cap. It was easy to toss him in the bin with Monty and Westwood and be done with it.
But in the case of “Never” vs. “Supreme Talent” in golf, going with “never” is a sucker bet. Eventually in almost every case, talent grinds out a 2&1 win.
Cruel fate has robbed us golf fans of seeing Seve age gently into his 70’s, and hearing his Spanish tinted dialect every April during Masters week as a past champion. But this Sunday, the great tradition of Spanish talents adds another generational notch on the Masters trophy. We’d all be shocked if Jon Rahm doesn’t some day add yet another.
The week began without Arnie for the first time in over 50 years, and a cold-blooded rainout of the Par-3 contest for the first time ever. Then Dustin Johnson went ice follies in his rented garage. A nor’easter blew for two days, rendering the golf mostly defensive and pedestrian. Some of us… yeah.. me! …. dubbed it “the worst Masters ever!”
Yet by Saturday night everybody was giddy about a possible four-way shootout. And when that storyline fizzled by the back-nine on Sunday, all hell suddenly broke loose. As it often does at Augusta.
Never bet against this tournament. Ever. All hail Sergio! A major-caliber golfing talent, who after nearly 20 years of frustration, finally has his major.