We don't know much about golf, but we do know that The Masters Are Important. Therefore, with the Big Golf Tournament That Doesn't Like Ladies teeing off tomorrow, we asked resident golf impresario Shane Bacon, of Dogs That Chase Cars, to preview it for us. So here goes.
Ponder this when musing over the upcoming Masters tournament, the first major and best golf weekend of the year: Is Tiger Woods the best in the world at what he does?
Think about that guy at your office that always overachieves, getting to work 20 minutes before you and buying that nice bottle of wine for the boss weeks before his wedding in Mexico (I hate you Tres). Is that guy better at his job than Tiger is at golf? There isn't a virgin's chance in Vegas.
Golf is a wind down sport, something people do to get away from their jobs, lives or spouses. It is a special sport that people can do when drinking, something Terrell Owens or
Alex Rodriguez could never say about their profession. With the Masters, the perfect storm arises — a wind down sport happening at the perfect wind down time. After the two weeks of March Madness that pretty much has every sports fan in the nation wound up like a Joakim Noah dance, you get the splendor and peacefulness of an Augusta National golf tournament that defines serenity even down to the theme music that accompanies it.
Along with all the corny stuff I just wrote, you get a badass golf course with badass golfers. You have previous winners of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, but you also eat Champions Dinner with Fuzzy Zoeller, Seve Ballesteros and Freddie Couples. No matter what the fools that head Augusta do to the masterpiece, it still comes down to a back nine Sunday charge (ask Phil) or collapse (ask Norman, twice).
This year at the Masters is something special, with Tiger Woods nearing the "number one seed playing a 16 seed" status in the golf world, an area nobody has ever come close to first-pumping. When Tiger is in the field, everyone, and I mean everyone, knows if he doesn't win, he's going to be close. The guy is in a zone never seen by athletes, a place that is touched at times (see Federer, Roger) but seldom controlled. Tiger seems so comfortable at the top of the golf world that you'd almost expect him to be an average Joe Durant, making his millions while still finding privacy eating Baby Back Ribs at Chilis.
Fans have come to expect Tiger to do the unreal literally every week. The guy has found the perfect equation for professional golf: Ivy League smarts, Fortune 500 business sense, linebacker body, auditor work ethic and Buddhist-like comprehension equals success.
Starting Thursday, Tiger will have to bring all those to the table to beat the likes of Schmickelson, Geoff Ogilvy and Adam Scott. The talent of the field means anyone, and Zach Johnson means anyone, can take home a title any random week. Andy North (always a voice of reason) said Wednesday that he believed half the field in a major had no chance of winning, which I find in this day and age ridiculous. For example, find me ten people in this country that had Ben Curtis at the top of their 2003 British Open Office Pool and I'll have Will get a Bill Self tattoo.
This week should be special, and not just because it's a tradition like no other. You have a clear favorite in Tiger, which means a top notch golfer like Vijay Singh or Angel Cabrera could sneak out of the pack and take this thing right under El Tigre's nose. Will the pressure ever get to Tiger? Can he always rise to the occasion when needed? How smart was he to marry a wife with a replacement twin if need be? If Tiger wins on Sunday, gushing adjectives might need a vacation come Tuesday.
(Oh, and I'm picking Geoff Ogilvy and I don't think I've ever picked a winner correct in my life. Sorry Geoff.)