At Augusta National, Tiger Woods is a walking circle of life

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Tiger Woods was the primary golfer to reach on the course on Saturday morning, a half hour earlier than dawn, and he went alone to a pitch-black driving vary. He smiled and he grimaced and he labored. With eight holes left to play of the delayed second spherical, he stood proper on the reduce line. He hadn’t missed a reduce up to now 22 Masters, one of many final streaks remaining from his now vanished days of domination. When it was over, he stood within the pouring rain and took a couple of questions.

He laughed at himself. He did not appear offended.

Somebody requested him what occurred on his final gap.

“I hit it proper off the heel,” he stated after which walked away.

He was 3 over. The reduce line was 2 over. He may solely wait and watch. He’d completed every part he may do: get up early, get his physique labored on till it approached one thing like working, arrive earlier than all of the younger millionaires to go away nothing to probability. He wanted Justin Thomas or Sungjae Im to bogey a minimum of one gap for the reduce line to maneuver to three.

It is humorous what a sport can reveal. Yesterday, there was a 23-year-old beginner named Sam Bennett who got here into the press room, all id and ambition, 4 photographs off the lead and speaking like he may win the entire thing. He was a delight to behold. He referred to as the Crow’s Nest Butler Cabin, and did not acknowledge the title Ken Venturi, and seemed like he’d by no means heard of Bobby Jones till a dinner earlier within the week. When individuals requested what he deliberate on doing, he stated he and all his school buddies have been most likely going to get together. I felt like that was a well mannered method to say: crush some Bud Lights, perhaps gentle some stuff on fireplace. Sammy Golf. Strolling Home Cash.

“I’ve bought a golf event that I can exit and win,” he stated.

Bennett was born the yr Woods gained the 1999 PGA Championship and he completed the primary two rounds of the Masters 11 photographs higher than Woods.

“The onerous work’s completed,” he stated.

It was clear he actually believed it.

Youth is a strong power to behold. However so is growing old. There is a poem by Dylan Thomas in regards to the battle between youth and time that I thought of, with the picture of a solitary completed Woods nonetheless grinding like somebody may take his many accomplishments away. Oh, as I used to be younger and simple within the mercy of his means, time held me inexperienced and dying although I sang in my chains like the ocean. That is it. Sang in my chains.

He is aware of issues about glory and ache and dedication that solely time can educate the younger highly effective Bennett, because it has taught Tiger, because it taught Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer and Ben Hogan, because it has taught me and also you. I’ve written this theme like six instances in a row when watching Tiger Woods play Augusta as a result of it is the one story now. He’s a strolling circle of life. The one one true method is struggling. Swinging a driver earlier than daybreak. Leaning over a putt within the rain. Limping away to attempt it once more.

The one reward, in fact, is extra struggling.

Tiger bought his want.

Thomas bogeyed two holes coming dwelling, lacking the reduce himself, and he seemed up into the rain and shook his head, sufficiently old to know the cruelty of this sport was a metaphor for all times. The third spherical was scheduled to start in a couple of hours, the temperature dropping, the rain coming down regular. Followers slipped and fell within the mud. The winner of this enjoying of the Masters would earn his title and jacket and cash.

Twenty-three instances in a row now Tiger has made the reduce. It is at all times appeared that he was on a deeply private quest, and whereas he entertained the chase of Nicklaus’ 18 majors, there was one thing else fueling him inside. That gasoline stays unseen. A thriller. He is had each alternative to save lots of himself from the bodily ache of merely enjoying golf, and the psychological ache of figuring out he can by no means play nice golf once more. And but he is out right here within the rain.

It isn’t clear what the remainder of his season or profession holds however he is bought two extra rounds to play at Augusta Nationwide. Nothing about what he is completed in each occasion since his automobile wreck has been simple. He works tougher than his youthful rivals to be half the participant he was, and as a substitute of complaining or whining about that diminishment, he arrives first at a golf course and goes to work.

Time held me inexperienced and dying although I sang in my chains like the ocean.

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