Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday at the Masters...Once Again

Bubba was excited to play with Spieth, who he considers a friend.
Sunday at the Masters. I look forward to this day all year. Golf enthusiasts woke up this morning with anticipation, a nervous energy—the good kind, because you're just never sure how the story will end. You know it will be a good story, often a magical one, but it has to be played.

When I woke up this morning, I felt as though I couldn't lose. I felt particularly lucky as I was excited about the two players tied for the lead, who were at (—5) going into the final round. Since his 2012 victory at Augusta National, it's been hard not to be enthusiastic about the self professed "Christian. Husband. Daddy, Pro-Golfer (Twitter)." Bubba Watson hits the ball off the tee farther than any other player on the tour; his average drive is 317.7 yards. I love to see him just tear it up.

Watson was paired with the 20 year old Jordan Spieth (rhymes with teeth) a Texas gentleman. Profiled in Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year issue, "A Swing and a Hit" reveals that he has "always been an old soul....sir and m'am were built into his vocabulary, and community service was stressed through school and church." Had he won, the Dallas Jesuit High School graduate would have been the tourney's youngest victor. This was his first Masters and certainly not his last.
I like how he points to where his shot is ending up.
Even though most of us will never be able to even attend the Masters let alone play there, we know the intricate details of each hole. We know their names and we know that "Amen corner" will make or break a player (and how Rae's Creek factors into this). I find myself just staring at the natural beauty of the vibrant flora and fauna. I try to imagine what it would be like to be there. And one reason, one singular moment today confirmed why I would want to.

To be honest, today's final round wasn't as exciting and memorable as the others. For the past two years, the winner has been determined by a playoff. A friend asked if I would write about the tourney and I said that nothing really moved me. And I'll be damned if I didn't eat my own words at that moment.
The 2013 champion dresses the 2014 winner.

I had been thinking about what Adam Scott said in an interview after his first round of play on Thursday. Walking up to the 12th hole, he got an emotional standing ovation from the crowd. This iconic spot on "Amen Corner" is where fans welcomed and applauded the 2013 winner. He said it took him by surprise—more than he had expected it would. So much that when he went to tee off on the picturesque par-3 13th hole, he left his tee shot woefully short of the target and ended up in Rae's creek.

It's amazing to me how often golfers can and do flush their emotions and stay focused. Despite the outcome, I doubt that Adam Scott would trade the response and reaction from Augusta National. Welcome back. We honor and respect you. Thank you for a wonderful 2013 championship.
Watson got misty-eyed on the 18th.
With a three shot lead on the 18th hole, Augusta National prepared to give Bubba Watson a second green jacket. Watson drove to the green on his second shot for an potential birdie, likely par and a victory in sight. As he strolled up the fairway to mark his ball, he stood so proud, so humbled and so tall. All eyes were on him—the 2014 champion.

Watson could have reacted a million different ways. Some walk with their caddies. Mickelson makes eye contact with everyone he can. He raises his visors, smiles and nods to the crowd. It's hard not to love him at those moments. But in that moment, Bubba's eyes filled with tears. He didn't try to hold them back and the crowd wouldn't let him. They stood—I stood—and the only thing you see in that moment is one man, his craft and its excellence. 

And I love that moment, simply because I get to take the long look. It's not a run to the pin, there is no music or video to detract from it. It's simply a man who has achieved his dream. It's also time to say "thank you" for another wonderful tournament. Thank you for amazing feats and for supportive fans. 

I do not believe sacramental moments are limited to the competition or the athletes on the field. No, I believe the spectators are witnesses. We call and respond. We support, appreciate and engage. Bubba Watson and Adam Scott were responding to sharing the very best of themselves with others. Yes, they are people they will never know....but they are people, like me who stand in delight, wonder, awe and appreciation for their presence and gifts. This is why we watch, debate and discuss The Masters like it matters. And it does. I can't wait for 2015.

Photo Credits
With Jordan

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