Magical Moments of Masters Captivates Viewers

Why do we watch sports?

The 2017 Masters is why.

We never can predict when those magical moments will occur. There are those events we can anticipate. Sometimes they deliver. The 2016 World Series between the Cubs and Indians did. So did the Super Bowl. Add the last BCS national championship game. Actually we’ve seen quite a few lately. But generally the moments we think will be special fall short. That’s why when they do happen it is so special.

The final day of the Masters is as good as it gets. The first real drama of the first of golf’s majors appeared on the first day. Following his unfortunate fall down a staircase by the sport’s hottest performer, Dustin Johnson, the pre-tournament favorite had to withdraw because of the resulting back problems after warming up for 10 minutes.

Despite the absence of Johnson, this year’s Masters shaped up as a battle-royal. How could it not? Take your pick. Rory, Jordan, Rickie, Jason, Bubba, new threats like Jon Rahm, Bill Haas and Adam Hadwin, the emergence of Hideki Matsuyama, and the likes of Adam Scott, Justin Thomas ad infinitum.

Then there were the old standbys, Mickelson, Zach Johnson, and Sergio Garcia.  Did someone say Sergio Garcia? You mean the Spaniard who had never won a major? The 37-year old who would tease you? Contend for awhile, then fall short usually due to chronic putting woes. Yes, Sergio Garcia. An afterthought in a field of young stars.

But something happened at Augusta National this past weekend. It was a slow build. All of a sudden there it was. The final day. Garcia found himself tied for the lead with good friend and Ryder Cup teammate Britain’s Justin Rose. They were playing together.  As we’ve seen so many times, more often than not, 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 mano a mano duel down the stretch. If you believe the par- 5, 13th hole was the turning point for Sergio Garcia I would agree. It appeared as though 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 thee excruciating drama that followed. Rose, himself, 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 Sergio Garcia on the first playoff hole when all he needed was a two-putt to finally win his major. 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 who passed away from brain cancer nearly six years ago, it was too emotional to imagine.

Both of his fellow countrymen had won the Masters twice, Sergio Garcia had never won a major in 73 previous attempts. The final Sunday would have been Ballesteros’ 60th birthday. His mentor had to be smiling down from above.

We all should simply savor the final day of the 2017 Masters.

It’s why we watch sports.



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