Oh, yeah, some golf tournament kicks off tomorrow. Haven’t been writing about it much here, but you’ll find plenty to discuss in my Masters column at Sympatico/MSN. My pick this week — Ernie Els. Dark horse? Paul Casey.
Here’s a taste:
One has yet to emerge from the PGA Tour, but surely someone must be out there who isn’t fazed by Woods’ dominance, not intimidated by his remarkable play.
And if you buy into the hype, that new star, the fresh face who isn’t flustered by the game’s greatest player, is probably a teenager tackling his first Masters. These bright young things are of international pedigree, with names like Rory, Ryo or Danny. To put it in perspective, none of them were through their first decade of life when Woods took his first Masters in 1997. All grew up without having ever seen the likes of Jack Nicklaus or Nick Faldo display their mastery at Augusta. All these kids know is Tiger.
“I could probably tell you every shot that Tiger hit,” says the Irish-born Rory McIlroy. “Nineteen ninety-seven is probably the one that stands out most.”
Sure McIlroy was only eight at the time, but as he developed his golf game to the point where he’s now Europe’s new great hope, Woods dominated The Masters. As McIlroy, U.S. Amateur champ Danny Lee from New Zealand or Ryo Ishikawa from Japan were growing into their teens, Woods was demonstrating his complete control of the sport of golf.
Now all three have the arrogance of youth that Woods displayed when he first came to The Masters in 1995. Tiger may not have felt he’d win The Masters in his first time out, but he knew he’d put the green jacket on. It was just a question of time.