I’m not a golfer, nor do I usually enjoy watching golf on TV. But the Masters transcends the sport. It is one of the most near perfect venues and events ever conceived. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to attend several rounds of the Masters on three occasions, the last being the historic 1997 event.
It was Tiger Wood’s first win and Ann and I were able to witness many big shots he made during the last three rounds of play. In previous years, we typically had sat in one or two locations and watched all the golfers play trough. (Saw Curtis Strange make a hole in one on 12 in 1988 [7-iron, 155 yards] by sitting there all day long.) But in 1997, we moved around, following Tiger.
This meant we never had a great view of him putting, but a few times during the tournament, we serendipitously ended up in just the right spot to witness history. It also meant we saw some famous folks on Sunday.
On Friday, we were in a great place to watch him take the lead for what would turn out to be the rest of the tournament. It was on the 13th hole and we were standing next to Tiger’s mother and a small entourage that included Phil Knight. (Ann Hammock [who’s maiden name is Knight] happened to be wearing a Nike hat and introduced herself to him as a distant cousin. “Nice hat,” he said.)
On Sunday, we saw Tiger complete the best four rounds of Masters golf ever played. As you’ll recall, he not only won his first Masters that day, he set a list of records for the times:
He finished at 18-under-par 270, the lowest score ever shot in the Masters and matching the most under par by anyone in any of the four Grand Slam events. His 12-stroke victory over Tom Kite was not only a Masters record by three strokes, but the greatest winning margin in any major since Tom Morris Sr. won in the 1862 British Open by 13 strokes.
Today, Tiger Woods won his third green jacket. No doubt, he will win many more.
I decided in 1997 that it would be a long time before I ever go back to see another Masters. It just wouldn’t be the same.