One of the ways that The Masters golf tournament stands out is how it uniquely provides a stage that simultaneously determines who the next champion will be while celebrating and, at times, showcasing its former champions. Although this hasn’t happened too often, sometimes fate, talent, and Augusta National have the knack of coming together to work their magic and creating moments that turn back the pages of time.
For example in 1950 Horton Smith played well all week finishing in a tie for 12th place providing golf fans of that era the chance to watch the very first Masters champion recapture a bit of what provided him victories at Augusta back in 1934 and 1936.
In 1967 legends Ben Hogan and Sam Snead, each 54 years old at the time, finished in a tie for 10th place and in doing so gave golf fans of the 1960s something they never dreamed they would have – a chance to chime in on the Hogan/Snead debate which began a quarter of a century earlier.
Arnold Palmer turned back the clock in making the cut in the1983 Masters, allowing fans of a new generation to watch the king of the last generation stride for four days on the fairways and greens he dominated two decades before.
The 1998 Masters certainly provided one of the most prolific of these moments as a 58 year old Jack Nicklaus played very, very well into the back nine on Sunday, finishing just four strokes behind the leader and in a tie for sixth place with a total of 283, five under par. This occasion provided those of us old enough to remember 1986 that no matter how great the golf moment seems (even 1986), we’re never guaranteed that we’ve seen the best moment yet.
That brings us to this year’s Masters tournament. As April at Augusta approaches, 64 year old Tom Watson waits for another opportunity to perform. Already having thrilled us in another major championship at the spry golf age of 59, most golf fans both marvel and wonder about Watson’s longevity and how long it will last.
At the end of the day, golf fans come together. The generations before us cheered on one or the other, such as Sarazen or Jones, Snead or Hogan or Nelson, Palmer or Nicklaus, Nicklaus or Watson, Woods or Mickelson. However, as every great golfer appears to be reaching the end of their competitive career, almost everyone comes together to acknowledge the golfer’s accomplishments and hoping to see one more moment, perhaps the last moment of that golfer’s career.
At the 2014 Masters, for Tom Watson, I hope fate, talent, and Augusta National come together, work their magic and create a moment that turns back the pages of time.