Immelman, Snedeker and Woods all rolled into one

As I watched this year's version of the Masters, especially the final round, which every year is one of my favorite days in sports, I once again found myself caught up in the drama of the event. I'm a Tiger Woods fan and found myself rooting for one of his patented breathtaking pressure shots to take the wind out of his opponents' sails and overwhelm them to win yet another event. At several points on Sunday it looked as if Tiger was poised to make his charge, but much like last year's US Open, it never quite happened, as he was never able to capitalize on his brilliant set-up shots.

I found myself rooting for young Brandt Snedeker and his youthful enthusiasm. Here was a guy who was just happy to be there and was making the most of his opportunities. Somewhere around mid-round on Saturday, though, it began to appear that maybe he didn't have the experience to stand up to the mounting pressure, and sure enough by late Sunday the inevitable mistakes were cropping up and it became obvious that he was not yet destined to wear the Green Jacket.

Though I was never really pulling for Trevor Immelman (In these types of situations, I usually root for the underdog) I had to respect his steady, unflappable game and the way he repeatedly backed up his minor mistakes with solid, steady recovery shots. He deserved to win the 2008 Masters and he did.

So, more importantly, how does this year's edition apply to my game of gold and what lessons can I take away from it?

Well, it occurred to me that in my most recent outing I was Tiger, Trevor and Brandt all rolled into one. I grabbed a set of Ping Eye2 irons and hit my local course, this past Wednesday with the usual high expectations. I bogied the short par 5 #1 and then hit my tee shot on the par 3 #2 just left of the green. A nice chip shot left me with a two foot putt for par. Suddenly I became the 2008 Masters version of Tiger. As I walked up to the short par putt , I had already recorded the par on my mental scorecard and was thinking about how I would play the next hole. Needless to say, I missed the putt, slipping it by on the ow side and settling for another bogey. Now I headed to the next tee with thoughts of recent failure and squandered opportunity in my head rather than thinking about a saved par. I not saying that this is what happened to Tiger on Sunday, but I know that when he hit the brilliant recovery shot from the trees in the pine straw on the par 5 #13 and followed it up with a brilliant approach to with a few feet, I had already recored a birdie on the hole for Tiger and was calculating how far back he now was when he missed the birdie putt!

I hit my stride at the start of the back nine in my round, with well placed drives, steady putting and already good play, including raeching a par 5 in two with a 210 yard approach and following that up with a 300 yard drive in the fairway on the next hole. I have to believe that this is how Trevor Immelman felt as he played on Sunday. When you slip into that zone, golf becomes a very easy game and you begin to wonder how anyone could ever mis-hit a shot or make a strategy error in a game as simple as this. My Trevor-like moment did not last long.

A glance at the scorecard and some quick math told me that I was on pace to easily break my course record. I had a lot of strokes to play with as I prepared for the final three holes. Just 2 bogies and a double bogey and I would record my personal best at my home course! Now it was time to be Brandt Snedeker. As I stumbled and bumbled to a pair of TRIPLE Bogies and a double bogey to close out what will now go down as just a very average score for me on the course, I can't help but look back and experience just a little of the feeling that Snedeker must have had as he watch his second shot in two days splash into the creek on Augusta's #13. Oh, what might have been!

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