The majesty of the Masters at Augusta National

Phil Consuegra

There’s a certain magic in the pines, a certain mystique in the azaleas, a certain atmosphere in the Augusta air this time of year. It’s time for a yearly celebration, a clinic if you will, of how God intended sports to be played, with no distraction, commercialism or greed. There is one event, held every year in the heart of Georgia, that still gives sports fans goose bumps every time they think of the majesty and glory behind it. Just saying the words “The Masters” is enough to make people like me shiver with anticipation. It’s that special.

Few sporting events still have the tradition and appreciation for true sport that the Masters still possesses. When you arrive at Augusta National Golf Club, it’s almost as if you’re stepping onto holy ground, especially when you think not only of the countless memories that exist on the golf course, but also the unwavering integrity that the event has held for the past 72 years. However you feel about the membership or the administration of Augusta National Golf Club, you can’t deny that the majesty of the annual event has remained untouched by controversy.

The grass is still perfect, the water still reflects the scenery flawlessly, the trees still have their incomparable sway in the Georgia sky and, most importantly, the competition is still unmatched by any other sporting event in the world. Don’t believe me? Just try to get tickets. It’s nearly impossible.

One need look no further back than last year, when Tiger Woods’ chip on 16 sat on the edge of the hole for what felt like a minute, then fell in, creating one more of the true Masters memories I will talk about with my children. It was that chip that would eventually send the tournament to a playoff, in which Tiger came out victorious with his fourth green jacket at only 29. What’s funny is that this year, Tiger will probably win his fifth, and put real pressure on Jack Nicklaus’ record – and at one point unheard of – six Masters titles.

Right now, gamblers can go to Vegas and place their golf bets on one of two things: Tiger or the field. A rational human would probably take the field, thinking the odds are in their favor. Why not? Phil Mickelson is playing some of the best golf of his career right now. Vijay Singh is hungry for a major. Rory Sabbatini is atop the money list. But while Mickelson, Singh and Sabbatini all play impressive games, Tiger is still the man to beat. Not just because he’s purely the best player in golf, but because of something else deep inside.

Earl Woods taught his son the game of golf. He raised the Tiger and has been by his son’s side his entire life. The prodigy always has his mentor, and Tiger’s mentor was his father. But this year, Earl won’t be there. Stricken with prostate cancer, his father’s failing health has not only become a source of pain, but more importantly, a source of motivation. Tiger remains the strongest player mentally on tour and in the Masters’ field. Tiger on a normal day is dangerous, but Tiger when he’s motivated, especially because of his mentor’s illness, is a force to be reckoned with. There’s no one, in any sport, that can deal with emotions as well as Tiger Woods. And this weekend, Tiger will face and pass his ultimate emotional test.

As the world watches America’s most prized jewel this weekend, no matter who wins or what happens, we are guaranteed four things: beauty, majesty, mystique and glory. This is what sports is all about. This is why we watch. This is why this weekend is marked on so many calendars.

Watch and appreciate. The Masters is here.