Well, that old saw “all things in moderation” didn’t get much of a look-in at Augusta this year, did it? Certainly not on the Sunday when it was all hands to the pumps to avoid the apocalypse that the weather people had predicted – and which skirted the property but hit elsewhere with devastating effect. Instead of the mother of all storms we had a rip-roaring godmother of a Masters, a tournament of the ages for all ages.
The early two-tee start seemed sacrilegious – and such a break with tradition at such a place was a sure sign that this wasn’t just any old weather warning – but the scrunched-up schedule added to the drama and sense of excitement. A host of players jostled up and down the leaderboard, more than a few of them genuine title contenders on the day that someone’s dream of winning a green jacket becomes a reality.
Even I, cynical and hard of heart, couldn’t begrudge Tiger the sweetest victory of his star-studded career. Never mind his shot-making and touch, the man’s concentration and control were immense, impervious and made him indomitable. It was no wonder that, the last putt holed, the prize secured, he screamed, flapped his arms, hopped a bit, screamed again, hugged everyone, shook hands, then screamed some more and flapped again. He didn’t know what to do with himself. He’d given everything and the release of tension, all those years of pain, humiliation, frustration, everything, exploded in one ecstatic volcanic eruption. A man overjoyed and overcome.
“We did it,” he said as he gave his caddie Joe LaCava a crushing bearhug. “You did it,” LaCava said.
But Tiger was right, he couldn’t have done it alone. This was a team effort, a victory achieved through blood, sweat and tears, with the love and support of family and friends. No wonder their beaming smiles lit up an amazing Augusta afternoon.
It may not match the goings-on in Georgia but there’ll be no shortage of emotion at Gleneagles in September (13-15) when Europe attempt to wrest the Solheim Cup back from the United States. The Europeans, perennial biennial underdogs, have never lost in Scotland, with epic wins at Dalmahoy (in 1992) and Loch Lomond (2000), so it’s as well that captain Catriona Matthew, from North Berwick, has always remained cool and calm under pressure.
The other week, Catriona was in Selkirk for the launch of a Solheim Cup tartan, commissioned by VisitScotland and designed by Rebecca Ferguson of Lochcarron of Scotland. In a spirit of hospitable unity, Rebecca included red, white, blue and yellow in the design and Catriona said, “The tartan looks fantastic and I love that it represents the colours of the European, US and Scottish flags. The Solheim Cup is hugely competitive but played in great spirit between the two teams and I think this tartan represents that perfectly.”Scotland now claims to lead the world in the development and promotion of women’s golf, so it behoves the rest of us to make sure that we keep up. And we don’t need to be superstars to enjoy golf or promote it. Today is the end of Golf and Health Week, which aimed to highlight how good golf is for our health and wellbeing and if you go to golfandhealth.org, you’ll see that it’s a lifelong thing, not just a fad or phase of the week.
Marilynn Smith, one of the founder members of the LPGA, who died earlier this month, just short of her 90th birthday, thought golf was for cissies until her parents insisted she try it when they realised that playing baseball with the boys was doing nothing but harm to her vocabulary. She fell in love with the game and spent a lifetime promoting it and encouraging girls and women to play. Vibrant, enthusiastic, engaging, interested and interesting, Marilynn was also a player of no little skill, with 21 wins to her name and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2006.
If you go to lpga.com, you’ll find Ron Sirak’s lovely tribute to Marilynn, a woman with a gift for friendship and a smile for everyone. Just last month, at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup in Phoenix, Arizona, she and fellow co-founders Shirley Spork and Marlene Bauer Hagge were on hand to support and encourage today’s LPGA players and join in the Drive On initiative to get more girls golfing. Indomitable. Irrepressible. Inspirational.