The followers of a dude named Christ have Christmas and Easter. The practitioners of JC's own religion have Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Islam has Ramadan. Hindus have Karva Chauth, Dhan Teras, Deepavali minor, and Deepavali major. Zoroastrians have the feast for the coming together of all souls Hamaspathmaidyem Gahambar. Buddhists celebrate Vesak
The General has The Masters.
Like the Communion Wafer and the Latke, there is an official food of my high holiday. It consists of a huge amount of The General's Signature Tuna Salad (Heinz Hot Dog Relish and Green Apples are the secret ingredients), Bob's Texas Style Jalapeño Chips, and a 2 liter of Sunkist. Toasted wheat bread with mayo, please.
Dessert is the roars of the crowd and the echoes of the ghosts on the back nine.
Did I cry a little when the magical Sunday at The Masters lead-in included Jimmie Nantz narrating five Jack Nicklaus birdies? You god damned right I did. My first memory of sports is Jack sinking that put at 17 on Sunday in '86 and my father's fist pump and roar. My second memory was wishing that a blimp would fall out of the sky and hit Greg Norman the Aussie bastard. My third memory was Kevin Bass striking out against the Mets, but that is completely irrelavant.
There is not one thing I dislike about The Masters. It is often on Easter Weekend, so I can watch it with my father while we boil crawfish. There are blooming azalea's everywhere. Jim Nantz. David Feherty. Gary McCord (eff you Masters Committee). No Johnny Miller. Green Jackets are cool. Lemonade and pimento cheese at 1960's prices. A golf course that reaches a brilliance and variation of green that defies the written word and the water color alike. Bobby Jones. Alistair Mackenzie. Hogan's Bridge. Rae's Creek. Butler Cabin. Amen Corner. Camelia. White Dogwood. Golden Bell. Sarazen's double eagle ("the shot heard round the world"). The ball that stayed up for Freddie in 1992. The balls that didn't stay up for Freddie in '96 and '98. Sandy Lyle out of the bunker at 18. Augusta native Larry Mize's pitch and run at 11. Phil's major league hops. O'Meara's putt. Jose Marie I-Lost-My-Ball. Tiger demolishing the course in 97. Tiger's Nike commercial chip. Ben Crenshaw with the ultimate memorial for Harvey Penick.
The Masters is a tournament that is the ultimate test of the mental aspects of golf, because it is a course where scoring is possible (unlike the US Open), but you have to know where and when because every shot is a huge risk reward. You have to use the slope at 16, hit the proper draw at 13, withstand the mystery of the wind at 12, and bail out right at 11. There is still choice at Augusta. The US Open has eliminated choice.
Here is a quick guide to your viewing weekend.
1) Jim Nantz has the best job in the world. Straight from the Final Four to The Masters. I get goose bumps when I hear him say, "Sunday at The Masters." But, his unintentional sexual imagery is phenominal ("And Tiger penetrates the cup for a moist birdie at the rain soaked 2nd hole"). Does the realization of this ruin the moment like when you learned Top Gun is really a homosexual orgy? I don't think so.
2) Tiger will shoot 70 in the opening round. If he has it, then he will put the petal down on Friday and Saturday.
3) You can click here for an overview of the course complete with historical shots at the individual holes and the flower name of each one.
4) Live streaming coverage of Amen Corner and other delights are here
5) Jason Sobel's blog on espn.com is a good way to follow the action at work.
6) Golfer's that we should be talking about and are: Geoff Ogilvy, Paddy Harrington, Paul Casey.
7) Golfer's that we should be talking about but aren't: Justin Rose, KJ Choi, Luke Donald, Tim Clark, Angel Cabrera, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Stewart Cink, Kenny Perry.
8 ) Golfer's that will get alot of play this week, but shouldn't: Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Camilo Villegas, Aaron Baddeley, Sergio Garcia.
9) My pick to win is Tiger Woods.
10) My sans El Tigre pick to win is Paddy Harrington.
11) My dark horse is Sean O'Hair.
12) My low amateur is Jack Neuman.
13) Who would win if the world was good and just: Greg Norman (I just can't hate him anymore)
14) My favorite sporting event/religious experience of the year starts now. (Not literally, it is just more dramatic that way)