POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Apr 11, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 1:47 a.m. HST, Apr 11, 2011
My original plan for yesterday had nothing to do with the Masters, except to periodically check on how my fantasy golf lineup was doing.
Generally, I view watching golf on TV the same way George Carlin did, including a sentiment that can't be printed here.
But when Tiger Woods made his charge on the front nine, I took interest -- as I'm sure many others did. It was time to forget about exercise, laundry, washing the car. It was time to settle in and watch some golf.
Youthful Rory McIlroy had quickly frittered the lead he built and nursed for three days, a South African missing a couple of letters from his name got off to a torrid start, and Woods was among a pack in pursuit. And every 5 minutes or so a new name would rise into contention. Bo Van Pelt was even in the hunt for a while. Luke Donald emerged, but then his ball submerged.
A posse of Aussies: Adam Scott, Jason Day, Geoff Ogilvy.
Don't forget K.J. Choi.
It was one of those times you call your friends to make sure they're watching.
This had become a story full of possibilities, full of diverse characters to get behind. All you had to do was pick one. Two or three if you want.
I CHOSE a portly 41-year-old Argentinian known for his waddle. Angel Cabrera is a two-time major champion, including the Masters. So not really an underdog, at least according to his credentials. He reminded me of my favorite from the good old days, Craig Stadler.
So what if he looks like he trains on a steady diet of cupcakes and cheeseburgers? Body language means more than body type in golf. He projected the aura of playing with house money, out on a casual Sunday afternoon with his son on the bag and what someone described as a "homemade swing."
Those gray hairs were earned negotiating Amen Corner successfully two years ago, on his way to winning the tournament.
This time, his attitude seemed to say, "It'd be cool to win another green jacket. But what the heck? You can only wear one at a time."
Cabrera was right there, until a bogey at 16 did him in.
The pressure had already gotten to his 20-years-junior playing partner in the final group, McIlroy, right after the turn. He was last seen rooting around a cabin aligning the 10th hole. It's never good when you have to check your backswing clearance against the wall of a house, and he took a double-bogey 7. That was merely the beginning of the end, 5 over for three holes.
WOODS ENDED UP tying for the lead, but then faltering on the back nine with some horrendous putting. After 18, with several groups still on the course, he found himself in a foreign position, one he'd often put others in for a decade -- in the clubhouse hoping against hope for an improbable series of foul-ups.
Terse answers to a quick interview were not received well in the Twitterverse. People complained of nothing answers. But the last one was telling: "I'm starvin'," said Woods, who then smiled. Maybe I imagined the double-entendre, but he is hungry for a win. I was happy he made it interesting.
There seems to be a lot of confusion as to how to feel about this guy right now. Feel however you want, anywhere between jock sniffer and hater. Who cares already?
But appreciate the talent and what he's meant for golf.
If you watched yesterday, it was because he was back in contention. Right?
You got to see the old Tiger and the new Tiger ... the old one who grabs the lead from seven back, and the new one who misses putts you easily make.
As my friend, comedian Jonathan Sparkles, said, Woods did a public service with that 5-under front nine. He got people to watch and enjoy a tremendous final round, to get to know about some other fine players.
For more than a decade, Woods' uniqueness -- in talent and demographic -- kept many fans from being bored by his winning.
It took the meltdown in his personal life to bring him back to the pack.
It took his front-nine charge yesterday to show many that the pack is really good ... including the winner.
What's his name again?
Reach Star-Advertiser sports columnist Dave Reardon at firstname.lastname@example.org, his "Quick Reads" blog at staradvertiser.com and twitter.com/davereardon.