Even if golf isn’t your thing, The Masters tournament holds a certain magic all its own.
The Masters: There’s nothing like it in sports.
It’s as if you go see your favorite major league baseball team and players who retired 10 to 25 years ago are inserted into the starting lineup and at bat when the game is on the line.
Teams have an old timers game but you’ll never seen any of those guys coming out of a retirement for a day.
That’s saved for the Masters, which is a tradition that blends the old with the new. Every Masters champion has the right to keep playing long after their prime and every once in a while a 60-year-old will show up on the leaderboard after the first couple of days.
Even players in their 50s who no longer actively compete on the PGA Tour find themselves in contention on Sunday. Past champions Fred Couples and Bernard Langer, who are in their 50s, fit that mold because it’s a course that rewards knowledge and experience.
This year the Masters says goodbye to one of its two-time champions when Texan Ben Crenshaw, 63, makes this week’s tournament his last.
The Augusta National faithful will be cheering like mad Thursday and Friday to help Crenshaw make the cut one last time, remembering his last Masters win 20 years ago, an emotional victory days after he buried his coach, mentor and father figure.
While Crenshaw says goodbye to the tournament, past champions like 65-year-old Tom Watson keep growing strong but every tournament could be his last. You never know when a player will call it quits.
The Masters is much about its past as it is its future. Golfing greats Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player kick off the tournament every year by hitting ceremonial tee shots on the first hole before the rest of the field starts.
The legends and today’s players celebrate the meshing of generations Wednesday with the tournament’s Par 3 contest, a fun-filled afternoon that gives children a chance to see their father’s and grandfather’s favorite players like Jack Nicklaus get his first-ever hole-in-one at Augusta National.
The winner of the Par 3 contest, Keven Streelman, had a great storyline when his caddie for the day was a 13-year-old with an inoperable benign brain tumor. Only the Masters.
That’s a great kickoff to a tourney that has plenty of storylines this year with Tiger Woods dominating the headlines with his return from injury and time-off from golf as he tries to return to his glory years.
Rory McIlroy, 25, another child prodigy like Tiger, is trying to win his third major in a row and complete the rare feat of a career grand slam of holding all four majors just as Tiger and Jack Nicklaus have done.
While Crenshaw steps down from the Masters, Jordan Spieth, a 21-year-old Texan he mentored and is one of the next great American golfers, tries to win the fabled green jacket after finishing second last year in his debut.
Bubba Watson, who has won two of the last three Masters is back at it again as is fan favorite Phil Mickelson who hasn’t won in the longest span in his career and is trying to recapture the magic at a place he has won three times.
It’s going to be an exciting weekend in Georgia and if Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are on the leaderboard with Rory McIlroy and future stars like Jordan Spieth it will be a Masters to remember for the generations.
Nicklaus won his last Masters at the age of 46 in 1986 which with today’s lifestyle, training and medicine, is like a player in their 50s winning today.
So if you tune in on Sunday to see the greatest golfers in the world coming down the stretch for an exciting finish, don’t be surprised if you see a name on the leaderboard that looks like one of yesteryear.
Only in the Masters.
What are your favorite Masters moments? Let us know in the comments below.