It’s hard to imagine a sport that so rarely brings tears to a fan’s eye, except for one: golf. However, if you only watched the 2019 Masters this past Sunday, I’d argue that there has never been a sport more physically and emotionally engaging.
To mark the unprecedented nature of Sunday’s action, play commenced at 7:30 am due to a rampant paranoia over a possible thunderstorm. From the first tee, however, all eyes were fixated on Woods, Finau, and Molinari – the final pairing that would inevitably produce the eventual champion. During the first nine, no score fluctuated more than Tiger Woods’ with three lucky birdies and two careless bogeys on the front. Concurrently, though, Molinari, Day 3’s leader, played exceptionally – at least until the 12th hole. A misplayed iron shot that clipped into the water eradicated his two-shot lead and put the Italian phenom behind three unforeseen leaders: Tiger Woods, Xander Schauffele, and Brooks Koepka. Abruptly, the energy of the course shifted. No longer were people cheering at every movement by Tiger; but rather, it became an unprovoked silence. The crowd was anxious and unwilling to be the perpetrator of a distraction that may cost the improbable to occur. Another disastrous water shot for Molinari and lack of birdies for Koepka and Schauffele during the last four holes all but solidified Tiger’s championship. Twenty minutes later, on the 18th green of August National, Tiger saved bogey for his 5th green jacket and first significant win in eleven dreary years.
Despite the world-class victory, the climax of the fans’ emotional experience on Sunday lay in Tiger’s ever-so-authentic reaction – a fist awkwardly thrown into the air, a teeth-driven smile perpetually plastered across his face, the ecstatic, yet awe-struck expressions of his worshipping runners up, and perhaps most importantly, a tender hug with his son that made each and every avid golf fan reminisce of Tiger’s 1997 embrace with Earl Woods, his dad, after claiming his first Masters title. Altogether, it wasn’t necessarily the game of golf that made Sunday so incredible, but rather, Tiger’s historical accomplishment that subsequently tapped into the hearts of millions worldwide.