Masters Sunday is a day to be relived over and over around the cubicles and water coolers Monday, so let's give everybody a handy-dandy guide and break out the treasured old chestnut for sportswriters: the Running Diary Column.
After all, Masters Sunday is a holy day for sports fans, and that point was driven home by CBS' rerun of the 1978 Masters before the '08 version hit the airwaves. Hope you caught it.
You get to remember all the "nearly men" who missed key putts to miss their date with history. Rod Funseth had a grip on the lead in '78 but missed a couple of key strokes late and will now only be remembered for rocking the best hat in Masters history, a "Trucker Lacoste" model that married the iconic French alligator with the Southern truck stop look. One of the all-time greats. Funseth could go clubbing in that lid today.
Back to why it's a holy day. Television technology was in its infancy, so when Hubert Green lined up a 3-footer to force a playoff with Gary Player, CBS used a crude fade-in of Player watching from Butler Cabin. Problem was, the only fade-in the network had available was a soft focus image of Player's head hovering in the upper right hand corner of the TV screen, lingering like an image of the Virgin Mary. The only thing missing were Gregorian chants.
No wonder Green missed the putt: the soft-focus Player lingering in the upper-right corner of his vision spooked him.
Anyhow, away we go with the diary:
11:30 a.m. Pacific: First sighting of Trevor Immelman on the first tee. He pushed it right. Is Immelman Afrikaans for "Funseth"?
11:31 a.m.: First sighting of Brandt Snedeker on the first tee. Hits the fairway. Is Snedeker Dutch for "Hubert Green"?
11:32 a.m.: First sighting of Tiger Woods, 2nd fairway. Sweater vest. Red shirt. Look of a champion.
11:32 a.m.: Still waiting for first Jim Nantz "Hello, friends" greeting. Feel naked without it.
11:35 a.m.: First sight of Rae's Creek, accompanied by familiar treacle of piano music and Nantz in reverential whisper. Listen to this music. Augusta National needs to shake it up one year, dust off some NBA-styled "Let's Get It Started" by Black Eyed Peas.
11:38 a.m.: Nantz tells us the Masters "stirs the soul," warns us of wind up to 30 mph. That's great and all, but where's my "Hello, friends"?
11:40 a.m. : Snedeker and Immelman both bogey No. 1. Word is, Elin Nordegren has already moved the Playpen and diaper-changing table into Butler Cabin for Sam Alexis, preparing for the inevitable afternoon ceremony.
11:53 a.m: Nantz in Butler Cabin … here it comes … yes! "Hello, friends," says Nantz. Love it. The day has begun.
12:06 p.m.: Snedeker rolls in a bomb on 2 for an eagle to tie for the lead. I like the cut of this kid's jib. Like that he mimics Watson. Like his follow through. Like his pace of play. Like that he looks like he's enjoying the moment. Like that he won the U.S. Amateur Public Links. Like that he abused his Augusta National practice privilege so much when he was at Vanderbilt, they nearly banned him. If I can't have Tiger, I'll take Snedeker, and I never thought that sentence would be typed.
12:09 p.m.: Steve Flesch pars No. 3, stays 2 back. Converse to my Snedeker thought, I don't need Steve Flesch winning the Masters. I mean, good guy and all, but the idea of "Steve Flesch, Masters champion" doesn't roll off the tongue.
12:27 p.m. : CBS replays Arnold Palmer's ceremonial tee shot from Thursday morning. The King still looks like a million bucks. One detail left out by CBS, reported by Associated Press ace Doug Ferguson: Palmer had to take his cell phone out of his pocket and switch it to ‘Silent' just before the tee shot. The beauty of Arnold Palmer: he's just like us.
12:33 p.m. : Tiger makes his first birdie of the day at No. 6 after stuffing tee shot on the par-3. The Chosen One is back in business. Still 5 back after Immelman makes an all-world par save at 4. OK, the stage is set: Tiger has 12 holes left, Immelman/Snedeker 14 holes left, Tiger 5 back. You do the math.
1:10 p.m. : Tiger takes on the par-5 eighth … and makes an ordinary par. Dare we say it, but is The Chosen One's game today a bit … dare I say it? … boring? Never thought Tiger on a leaderboard on Sunday would lead to boring golf, but he's got nothing going.
1:23 p.m. : With Flesch making birdie on 8, Peter Oosterhuis is telling us Immelman's 3-shot lead isn't as sexy as his would-be 5-shot lead. Is Oosterhuis talking trash to Immelman? Could be the first Oosterhuis-Immelman smack down in history. Certainly, the longest last names in smack down history.
1:27 p.m. : Tiger goes out in 36, is 6 back. Let's go ahead and say it: The biggest weakness in Tiger's game is the Comeback Major Win. He doesn't own any. I think we should start ripping this guy. He's all hype.
1:30 p.m. : Oosterhuis continues his Immelman-baiting. He barks out that Immelman caught his third at the eighth "heavy" and then calls it, for all of America to hear, "a poor shot"! Immelman might consider climbing into the tower to throw blows.
1:35 p.m. : Immelman's birdie try on 8 runs 9 feet past. Oosterhuis, calling out Immelman: "The pressure is on!"
1:37 p.m. : Immelman misses the par putt. Makes bogey on 8. Falls to 10 under. Oosterhuis calls it bogey-bogey on 7-8. CBS flashes graphic that shows, indeed, Immelman has gone par-bogey on 7-8. Oosterhuis, undaunted, barks out: "Oh, par-bogey. But it felt like a bogey!" Oosterhuis is ready to climb down the ladder from the tower and make an open-field tackle on Immelman.
1:52 p.m. : Snedeker bogeys 9, goes out in 39. He's still smiling. Doctors call that being in shock. Immelman grinds over a 7-foot par putt at 9. Makes it. "Well done!" says Nick Faldo. He's no Immelman Hater, like Oosterhuis.
2:13 p.m. : Immelman makes par on 10. Nantz reveals Immelman got a voice mail Saturday night from fellow South African Gary Player, who told him that there will be bad breaks but to keep his eye on every putt an extra second. Seems like sound advice. Nantz left off the other part of the voice mail, when Player told Immelman to eat three stalks of celery, drink three bottles of water, and do 1,000 abdominal crunches between every hole.
2:16 p.m. : Tiger makes a bomb on 11 for birdie. First roar of the day. The day comes to life. Faldo wonders: "Is this the start of Tiger's charge?" Sounds all well and good, but he's 5 back. Then again, Immelman is seen on the 11th tee, darn well hearing the roar. Can you hear palms sweat? Because I think I just heard Immelman's palms sweat.
2:45 p.m. : Wait &helip; did Tiger Woods miss a 4-footer to move into second place? I'm still having trouble processing this.
2:58 p.m. : Tiger just 3-whipped 14 for bogey. Again: Who let this guy down Magnolia Lane?
3:01 p.m. : Moment of truth: Immelman is 236 yards out on 13. Will he go for it? Don't do it, T. For all of our sake. For the good of the game, man. DON'T DO IT, MAN!
3:02 p.m. : He lays up. Thank you, T. (Side note: Is it OK to start calling Trevor Immelman "T" in this Running Diary? I feel I know the man after watching him the last three days. Don't we all?)
3:23 p.m. : Tiger hits it stiff at 16. You can almost hear the plaintive tone in Verne Lundquist's voice when he says, "There is something about this hole and Tiger Woods … but it has been the most exasperating of days for Tiger Woods." Verne loves Tiger at 16. Tiger at 16 led to one of his many Hall of Fame calls, from the famous chip in '05: "In all of your life have you seen anything like it?"
Goosebumps all around. Now, Verne has a Tiger who is six shots back. Verne's bummed. He and Tiger go together on a spring Sunday. I'm sure Verne is fired up for Immelman and all … but Verne wants Tiger. I feel for Verne.
3:27 p.m. : Tiger misses the birdie putt at 16. "Typifies the kind of day for Woods," Verne says. Verne is emotional. Concurrently, Snedeker makes his eighth bogey, this one on 14. Dude makes bogeys like Verne makes Hall of Fame calls on 16.
3:29 p.m. : At 15 tee, David Feherty says this is Immelman's last chance for a disaster. I think CBS needs to have a "Power of Positive Thinking" seminar for their broadcasters, moderated by Oprah Winfrey. Meanwhile, Immelman destroys another tee shot, hits another fairway. While Faldo and Feherty talk about Tiger playing awfully, I'm calling for some love for Immelman driving the ball like Ben Hogan.
3:41 p.m. : CBS rejoin voiced by Pat Summerall. What a blast from the past, sort of like listening to a Fireside Chat with FDR. Meanwhile, Immelman makes par on 15 and Nantz officially puts the holy water on him, saying a "green jacket awaits in Butler Cabin, in about 40 minutes, joining his countryman Gary Player." It's official: We can now say it was impossible to think that Ernie Els wouldn't be the second South African to win a Masters. As a huge Els fan, that's a painful thought. I'm sure Ernie feels the pain, too. His window may be closed.
3:49 p.m. : Immelman just got wet on 16. This thing ain't over yet. Hold the springbok.
3:51 p.m. : We're all doing the math in our head. OK, if Immelman makes double, falls to 8 under, and Snedeker makes birdie, moves to 6 under … and as Verne says for all of us: "Well, dramatic things do happen here …" Verne! Back in his element.
3:54 p.m. : Tiger birdies 18. Strong finish. But in the end, he shot 72 when he had a chance to win the Masters. And quite frankly, I don't want to hear Nantz and crew talk about ALL the near misses and how poorly Tiger played and how close he was and blah blah blah de fricking blah. Isn't that the case for EVERY player who didn't win? Bottom line: Tiger had a chance, Tiger didn't do it. And I'm a huge Tiger fan, and picked Tiger to win the darn thing. Face it: We all anointed him the Grand Slam winner, and we were all wrong. So be it.
3:56 p.m. : Bright side: Tiger has a chance at second place, which would be his fifth runner-up in a major. He's chasing down Jack, who had 19. The race is on!
4:11 p.m. : As Immelman walks to the 18th tee, Nantz begins reflection on Immelman, comments on his coolness (like Goosen), his beautiful swing (like Els) and his grace (like Player). It's a South Africa-palooza on CBS. The factoids are coming fast and furious: He was a prodigy at age 5. His sister is named Michelle. His baby boy was born at Winnie Palmer Hospital in Orlando, causing him to miss the British Open at Hoylake, flying back to Florida on a private plane with Tim Finchem. Everything you ever wanted to know about Trevor Immelman, coming at you!
4:19 p.m. : We now go to Immelman's approach shot in the gloaming, the familiar combination of shadow and sun at Augusta National, the romance of it all … and CBS reveals his tee shot is buried in a divot. I mean, a divot about two feet deep. Gophers may come into play on this thing. And Immelman comes through, like the ball striker he is, on to the green in regulation and ready for his coronation. Faldo, a consistent praiser of Immelman, loves it.
4:23 p.m. : Nantz, going deep on Immelman some more: Talks about childhood dream of Immelman, Immelman overcoming benign tumor in diaphragm, Immelman's parents traveling all over for their boy, Immelman enjoying lasagna and the early films of Woody Allen … OK, I made the last two up.
4:30 p.m. : Nantz reminds us of the Player voice mail: "Take your time," Gary said, "and I know you will win." Nice message.
4:35 p.m. : Billy Payne greets Jim Nantz in Butler Cabin for what can only be called a Sincerity-Off. No, Jim, I appreciate YOU …
4:39 p.m. : Zach Johnson congratulates Trevor, lays the green on him. Trevor Immelman is a Masters champion. Well done, lad. Well done.
- Tiger Woods