Why do we watch sports?
The 2017 Masters is why. We never can predict when those magical moments will occur. Actually, we’ve seen quite a few lately. Generally the moments we think will be special fall short. That’s why when they do happen it is so special.
Before we get into The Masters, just a word about my “Stockton!” podcast. Perhaps it’s no surprise when you consider people’s obsession with golf – at all levels of play. And it’s certainly no coincidence that we posted this episode on The Masters week. But I’m happy to report that we got more feedback on our episode with golf instructor Brian Sparks and his “Easiest Swing in Golf” than on any other. So if you’re just dusting off the clubs and thinking about you game this time of year, I encourage you to take a listen.
Okay, back to The Masters. The final day was as good as it gets. The first real drama appeared on the first day when pre-tournament favorite Dustin Johnson had to withdraw because of back problems resulting from a fall down a staircase.
Still, this year’s Masters shaped up as a battle royal. But by the final day Sergio Garcia found himself tied for the lead with good friend and Ryder Cup teammate Justin Rose. They were playing together. As we’ve seen so many times, someone down the leaderboard gets hot, and many at the top cool off and fall back. Not this time. Garcia and Rose hung tough, swatted away the challengers and emerged in a duel down the stretch. If you believe the par 5, 13th hole was the turning point for Garcia, I would agree. It appeared the age-old script would be repeated for Sergio: Come close in the big one and then fizzle. But after taking a penalty on an unplayable shot off his drive, Garcia managed to scramble to earn a par. It was a tremendous confidence boost for him, and that hole gave him new life.
If you witnessed it, you know the rest. A birdie on the next hole and an eagle on 15 after an amazing putt led to the excruciating drama that followed. Rose birdied 15 and 16, and when Sergio missed his birdie putt on that dramatic par-3 16th hole, you might have thought, here we go again.
Both leaders made and missed crucial putts down the stretch as so often occurs at Augusta. Rose and Garcia wound up the final round where they started. All even. Then the playoff. Then the birdie putt by Garcia on the first playoff hole. The entire round was underscored by the continued acts of sportsmanship by the two friends. A hand-slap here, a thumbs-up there.
It was an incredible drama that was unmatched. Golf can do that. Especially when the backdrop is the hallowed beauty of Augusta National. For Garcia, who had been chasing the legend of his two fellow champions from Spain, Jose Maria Olazabel and Seve Ballesteros, it was too emotional to imagine.
Both of his fellow countrymen had won The Masters twice; Garcia had never won a major in 73 attempts.
We all should simply savor the final day of The Masters. It’s why we watch sports.