In a week that otherwise would have been remembered for a two shot penalty issued to Tiger Woods for an improper drop, and a penalty stroke for slow play issued to 14 year old Tianlang Guan, Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera provided another chapter of epic drama at Augusta National that makes the Masters one of America's great sporting treasures.
Whether it be Bubba Watson's shot on the 10th hole in the 2012 playoff from the woods, Larry Mize's 1987 chip-in on the 11th in sudden-death, Jack Nicklaus' putt on 17 in 1986, his 40 footer on 16 in 1975, or Gene Sarazen's 1935 “shot heard round the world,” a double-eagle on the 15th hole, the Masters consistently provides amazing theater on an iconic patch of land.
There is no other sporting event like the Masters. It is the only major golf championship contested at the same course each year. The NBA, NHL, NFL, MLB, college football and basketball do not use the same venue for their ultimate game every season. Tennis compares especially with Roland Garros and Wimbledon, so too does Churchill Downs. However, tennis courts and racing surfaces usually feel the same throughout the grounds. One side of the court is about the same as the other side on most of the courts at Wimbledon, and the surface at the starting gate and the finish line is standard for the Kentucky Derby.
At Augusta National we've watched how the green slopes from the back towards the front on the ninth hole forever. The familiar Sunday pin location on the 16th hole, just over the pond, in front of the sand trap is as memorable as loved one's birthday. The 14th hole is the only one on the course without bunkers. The Eisenhower tree on 17 might as well be in your backyard you know it so well. When they walk over the Hogan Bridge crossing Rae's creek on 12 it is like the walk you took from your house to the bus stop every day in seventh grade.
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On Sunday Adam Scott birdied 18 after sinking a long putt to give himself a one shot lead. Moments later Angel Cabrera's approach shot on 18 put him within five feet of sending the tournament to a playoff. After Cabrera sunk the putt to force a playoff, they both missed the green re-playing 18 during sudden death. Cabrera nearly chipped in to win, both got close from just off the green, and on they went to a second playoff hole. On number 10, where Cabrera bogeyed during regulation, the second playoff hole became a putting competition. Cabrera shot first and barely missed a testy 15 footer. Scott countered cooling draining a 12 footer in the rain to earn his first green jacket.
Scott is the first Masters champion from Australia. Since Horton Smith cashed a check for $1,500 when he won the inaugural tournament in 1934 it has been an American tradition. Whether it be penalties, memorable holes, historic shots, or just the familiarity with Augusta National, the Masters is special. The tournament was great this year. Just like Thanksgiving dinner with the same food and the same people every year, once every 12 months the Masters transcends sports. It is a piece of our family.