Once Again The Master

By Peter Aviles
Updated: April 11, 2005

MAPLEWOOD, NJ–In what will go down in the annuals of Masters Golf as one of the more thrilling and forever talked about tournaments, Tiger Woods survives in sudden death to win the 69th Masters tournament when he birdied the first playoff hole to defeat Chris DiMarco.

Sunday started out as Saturday in that the third round was delayed and had to be completed early Sunday morning because of the inclement weather, notably, the rain. When the horn sounded ending play on Saturday, DiMarco had a four stroke lead. That lead quickly dissipated on Sunday because of Tiger’s birdie barrage that gave him a three shot lead heading into the final round. When Tiger birdied the first two holes of the final round it seemed as though it might be a runaway. Instead DiMarco fought throughout the day. He match Tiger stroke for stroke. They both squandered opportunities, but heading into the back nine, DiMarco had to feel good because he was within range. Tiger’s play was steady though it appeared that he became more cautious as the day wore on not wanting to make careless mistakes.

The birdie chip from approximately 30 feet behind the pin on the 16th hole was not only the shot of the tournament given what was a stake, but the knockout-punch that dashed DiMarco’s dreams. It gave Tiger a two stroke lead with two holes to play. He turned what might have become a disaster into an advantage and in the process added to his growing legend. When Chris missed his birdie attempt and settled for par, one had to think it was over but we were all in for a surprise. Rather, Chris cut into the lead pulling within one on the 17th hole when Tiger bogeyed the hole. A poor second shot into the bunkers by Tiger on 18 added to the building tension. Tiger bogeyed the 18th and fortunately for Tiger, DiMarco’s chip off the green hit the cusp of the cup and continued past the hole, otherwise it would be Chris and not Tiger wearing the green jacket.

Throughout the day there interesting asides that made you wish you were a fly in the ointment. For example, after Tiger birdied the first hole, he was striding off the green confidently heading to the tee box of the second hole when DiMarco, who was ahead of him, slows down to talk to him. Now, when Tiger is on the course, he is all business and generally does not engage in much on course banter, so was DiMarco looking to congratulate him or trying to distract him? The exchange was short as they continued to the tee box.

Thinking about the chip that will forever be in the annals of golf history, besides Tiger, one of the happiest around has to be Nike Corporation. The chip on 16 lingered so long on the lip of the cup that you could see the lettering giving maximum exposure to the Nike logo on the ball. Don’t be surprised if you see a commercial soon about this shot with Tiger saying something like “You too can make this shot if you use Nike golf balls.”

For Tiger, this is his fourth Masters win and edges him closer to record of six wins held by Jack Nicklaus. Also, this win brings him to the halfway mark of tying Jack’s overall major win total of 18. A record that Tiger has acknowledged he is chasing. The victory makes him once again the number one ranked player in the world ousting Vijay from the top spot. This is a battle that we will see for the entire year. While it was not vintage Tiger when compared to 2000, it is his third victory this season and breaks the major winless drought. However, this does not end all of the questions and speculations about him or his game. There are some who will continue to gripe and complain about Tiger, his level of play, his marriage, friends, and lifestyle, but the one thing you must do is acknowledge that until further notice, he has claimed the title of “Master” of the golf world.