Idol Chatter

tigerwoods.jpgOne of the most inspirational and highly watched events of the television sportscasting year took place Sunday, as the Masters beamed out from Augusta to a staggering number of interested homes on Easter. Ratings for the first days of the tournament were up on TV and up even more on the Internet.
Divine forces seemed to have arranged the rare pairing of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, though they weren’t anywhere near the top of the leaderboard. Several Americans were fighting for the lead, including Kenny Perry, bidding to become the oldest winner of a major golf tournament in history. This was surely going to be a great day for the kind of inspiration that transcends golf. And, as a bonus, this event has fewer commercials than any other sporting event of the year!
It’s been said that “excellence honors God and inspires people,” and I believe it. So, like many in our country, I enjoyed church, brunch, and prayers with my family, having set the Masters to record on TiVO. So late on Easter afternoon, I settled in for what experts would call the greatest tournament finish in 20 years.

First there was some guy named John Merrick, who few people have ever heard of, who brought the famed and super-sized Augusta National course to its knees and took the clubhouse lead.
Then Phil Mickelson shot better on the front nine than any golfer ever has in the history of the Masters, even under the pressure of the final round and playing against Woods. Woods made a long eagle putt and suddenly the two of them looked like they were taking over the tournament. Meanwhile, two Americans were tied for the lead and it just looked like a great Easter in America.
Inexplicably, though, as we longed for the wonder of the pros to put on a stage show for the ages, they flopped and fizzled, turning the glorious Augusta celebration into a day only a South American could love. First Phil hit a half-baked, insecure, willy-nillied shot into the water. Then he missed two putts that my son could have made, and he was out of it.
Then Woods fell apart, even hitting a tree like all of us hackers do, and he was out of it.
Then Chad Campbell, who’d been near the top since the first five holes on Thursday, missed some easy shots but made enough to get in a playoff. Kenny Perry bogeyed the last two holes but still backed into the playoff. Oh yeah, and the one foreigner near the top–Angel Cabrera–also made the playoff.
So with their lovely wives and kids looking on in a well-televised bit of family drama, the event was extended. People aren’t usually excited when the Pastor goes long in his sermon, but fans are thrilled when they get some extra holes free for the price of admission.
But Chad put a shot in a bunker and then missed a short putt, and he was left only to give a nice hug to his wife and, oh yes, the consolation prize of $660,000. (My wife ceases to enjoy professional sports when she finds out how much money they win!)
On the second playoff hole, the sentimental crowd favorite Perry again yanked his approach shot towards an unsuspecting bush, and his big moment to be the aged among the ages ended. He too won $660,000 and said he wasn’t too despondent.
In summary, the inspiration and excellence turned into pressure-ridden clunker shots by guys who hacked it up like many of us do on our local courses. Even Cabrera put his playoff tee shot behind a tree, bounced his next one off another tree and didn’t even see which direction it went. He got lucky. Phil, Tiger, Chad, Kenny and others did not. Or some may say they choked. In any event, it’s Monday. Time to go to work. Yeah, an anti-climax.
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