The Pryor Times

Sports

April 5, 2012

Traditions of spring: The Masters and baseball

Scouting around … The basketball nets have been cut down. The Final Four has been reduced to One and Done. The last lingering reminder of the winter sports scene has played itself out.

Last Saturday, talkative types were hailing college basketball’s national semifinals as representing the greatest weekend in sports.

Well, whether you’re a fan of Al Jolson of Bachman Turner Overdrive, one might debunk that line of thinking with the utterance of five little musical words: “you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

The first weekend of April, this very weekend, trumps all others.

Baseball and the Masters.The two most eagerly awaited  harbingers of spring arrive in tandem.

Diamonds and azaleas.

Pinstripes and green jackets.

America’s Pastime. A tradition like no other.

Major League Baseball opens its 136th season.

The Masters rolls out the green carpet for the 76th spring.

Over the next four days, America’s most treasured golf tournament will take sports’ center stage.

Over the next seven months, Major League Baseball will take Americans through spring and summer and fall.

A Tiger — as in Woods — is the 4-1 betting line favorite in Las Vegas to win the Masters over Rory McIlroy, a 6-1 pick.

A team of Tigers – as in Detroit – is the early 6-1 Vegas favorite, along with the Phillies, to win the World Series.

This weekend, Tiger Woods continues his pursuit of history, and Jack Nicklaus.

A win this weekend would pull Tiger even with Jack in career victories — 73.

A win this weekend would pull Tiger within three of Jack’s record total in major tournaments.

A win this weekend would confirm Tiger’s re-emergence as his sport’s premier player.

A noted oddsmaker in Vegas was quoted on Wednesday as saying, “Wagering levels are at an all-time record,” for the Masters.

Dennis Bowman, professional at Pryor Creek Golf Course, first stepped onto Augusta National — “the hallowed grounds,” as he called it — in 2005.

“If I could play one golf course in America, it would be Augusta National,” he said the other day as he counted down toward the first tee shot at the Masters.

“As always, I am looking forward to what unfolds this year,” Bowman said.

“Perhaps a Tiger/Rory final pairing Sunday? If Rory was to win in that situation, I believe a new rivalry between the ‘young gun’ and veteran would emerge.

“My favorite player going in is Phil Mickelson. I believe he exemplifies the elite modern day player on and off the golf course.”

Augusta National is everything one can associate with spring, Bowman said.

“I have imagined my dream foursome of my father, my two sons and myself playing there several times,” he said.

“The media provides the greatest coverage for this tournament over all the others,  and as good as they do in showing Augusta's beauty and articulating the experience, they simply don't do it justice.  

“The only way to truly appreciate the vastness of the hilly terrain and the massive undulation of the greens is to walk it, breathe it and live it firsthand.”

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