WOW: The Masters

Once again, the Masters proves why it is the best golf tournament in the world, and it’s not even close.

Some will argue they like seeing pros struggle, as is the case at the U.S. Open or the uniqueness of links golf at the Open Championship, but I’ll take the drama at Augusta National any day.

I kept hearing the word “wow” uttered on TV during the CBS broadcast and in the press room during the final round Sunday.

Tiger Woods’ dramatic win may go down as the best Masters since Jack Nicklaus won his sixth green jacket in 1986, but it wasn’t just the fact Tiger won that made this Masters so special.

The golf course proved once again why it’s also the star of the show every year, no matter who’s battling for the green jacket.

How many times have we seen Masters dreams die on the 12th hole. With all the talk of making holes longer, the 150-yard par-3 continues to confound the best players in the world.

The same hole where Jordan Spieth lost the 2016 Masters is where Italy’s Francesco Molinari lost the lead it seemed he would never let go this year.

On the par-3 16th hole, the same hole where Nicklaus came within inches of an ace on the way to his 1986 victory, Tiger nearly did the same. And who can forget Tiger’s chip in on that famous hole leading to his win in 2005.

I dare you to find a better set of par 3’s on any course in the world, and the par 5’s on Augusta’s second nine aren’t too bad either.

Because it’s the only one of golf’s major championships played at the same venue every year, we’ve come to know the holes so well. The same holes that can produce eagles and birdies also produce train wrecks, like the double-bogey made by Molinari on the par-5 15th.

As far as Tiger is concerned, two of the biggest moments in his comeback have now occurred in Georgia. He won at East Lake in the Tour Championship last fall and now Augusta National.

Some have said this is the greatest comeback in sports, after multiple back surgeries and his well-documented personal problems.

While that is debatable, what Tiger proved Sunday is that he could still have a chance at beating Nicklaus’ record of 18 professional major titles. He most certainly has a good chance of matching the record six Masters titles by Nicklaus.

His game may not the same as it was in his prime, but what Tiger has is his intelligence, and I believe he still carries an intimidation factor.

It seems by their reactions Sunday some of the best players in the world were affected by Tiger’s presence. How else do you explain four contenders going in the water on the 12th hole on Sunday?

Whether you like him or not, Sunday’s scene of Woods hugging his kids after leaving the 18th green was a special moment. Even Woods, not one who gets choked up easily, got emotional when remembering hugging his own father after winning his first Masters 22 years ago.

Tiger Woods is good for golf and good for sports in general. He’s one of only a few athletes who makes most people stop what they’re doing to watch.

And the Masters proves once again why it’s must-see TV each April.

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