Reflecting on the Masters

By Peter Aviles
Updated: April 5, 2006

NEW JERSEY—Officially, the golf season began in January with the Mercedes Championship in beautiful Hawaii. Unofficially, the golf season begins on Thursday, the first Thursday in April with the Masters Invitational Tournament.

In between, we have seen many events crowning one player or another as their champion; to represent them (hopefully well) until the following year. We cheer the players, wonder in amazement at their talent level, and chafe when an easy five footer goes wide of the cup. We growl at missed fairways and greens, but dream of executing shots and strategies as only the great ones can do as we strive to achieve victory, however we define it. Yet lost in the splendor that is the Masters is the humane side. The side we invariably hear about but seldom see; those behind the scenes, the families and true supporters.

Going into the 2006 edition of the Masters, all 92 participants, invited because of their prowess at prior Masters or other championships, tee off with a dream. That dream is to be sliding into the sleeves of the green jacket, one of the most recognizable symbols of accomplishment we have in sports today.

For the defending champion, winning is more important, but his dream is to postpone the inevitable, the deteriorating health of his father. I cannot recall a more public display of the richness of the relationship that is Earl and Eldrick Woods. What can be more special than the relationship a son has with his father.

We the public have cheered at Tiger’s amazing exploits on the golf course. We relish and value the historic moments. Think back to last year and the chip of the century that occurred on the 16th hole. However, all the cheers are inconsequential compared to the illness that is slowly sapping life from Earl, and taxing the greatest golfer we are to see in our lifetime. Perhaps we cheer the wrong champion.

Earl Woods is gravely ill. You get the sense that the clock is rapidly ticking. How will this affect Tiger; he of the steely focus, dogged determination and terrestrial talent?

If you recall, Tiger cried last year while dedicating his victory to his father. As always,

I want Tiger to win, but this time, I want him to win for his champion, Earl Woods.