Thursday, April 10, 2014

Forget the Phillies - it's Masters weekend

At least for one weekend, I will put aside the Phillies, and their miserable play.

I will try to forget the way they continue to butcher some seemingly routine plays in the field.

I will try to forget the uneasy feeling I get every time Ryne Sandberg goes to his bullpen.

I will try to forget the twinge I feel when a reliever comes in and immediately proceeds to walk a batter.

I will try to forget the sight of Ryan Braun going all brawny on the Phils' pitching staff.

It's not that I don't care. It's just that this morning my mind is elsewhere when it comes to sports.

Think azaleas and rhododendrons.

That's right, it's Masters weekend, and the sports world's most gorgeous venue is in full bloom.

There are a lot of reasons why the Masters golf tournament is my favorite sports event of the year. First, it helps to be a golf nut, which I am. I remain certain that my next trip to the driving range will deliver the "secret" to the golf swing I have been looking for now for more than three decades.

There's also the timing. The arrival of the Masters to me is a sure sign that I have survived another winter. And sure enough, right on cue, the forecast tells me we have a shot of doing something this weekend we have not done since last Nov. 2. That would be hitting 70 degrees.

The Masters is the only one of the four golf majors that is contested on the same course every year. And what a venue. I have never been to Augusta National. It's on the bucket list. It can't possibly be more gorgeous than it appears on TV, but I assume it is.

Those who have been there assure me that is the case. They also say the view on TV is deceiving, that the hills that look so pretty on TV are actually much steeper and more dramatic in person. Dramatic to look at, but impossibly difficult no which to attempt to hit a tiny white ball that insists on sitting there and mocking you.

They also to a man usually comment that they are always underwhelmed as they approach the course in Augusta, Ga. Most have compared the road, featuring an assortment of motels and fast-food joints, to something akin to Baltimore Pike here in Delco.

But then you take a turn onto Magnolia Lane and are transported into a different world, golf's Field of Dreams.v This year the Masters will be different. There will be no red shirt out there on Sunday.

Tiger Woods is not in the field. His quest to break Jack Nicklaus' record of major wins once again has been interrupted by an injury, this time surgery on his balky back.

The networks no doubt will lament Woods' absence. They likely will take a hit in the ratings. Outside the die-hards like me, Tiger Woods IS golf.

But he'e not bigger than Augusta. You can bet I will watching all weekend.

And here's a tip. Put the house on Sergio Garcia. I say he wins it this weekend.

The Phillies will still be there on Monday.

Unfortunately.

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