Johnson Masters and Beyond

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This Masters stays with us even though its been almost a week since Zach Johnson birdied the 13th, 14th and 16th holes on the back nine Sunday to hold off Retief Goosen, Rory Sabbatini and Tiger Woods, among others.
 
So here are a few random thoughts from the reporters notebook about the Masters and other issues:
 
  • Woods, bitterly disappointed at not being able to close the deal in quest of his fifth Masters, wasnt even the low 31-year-old. He and Johnson are the same age.
     
  • Sports Illustrated ran a thoughtful piece by a writer named Farrell Evans who posited, among other things, the notion that, .many of us in black America believed that he (Woods) was going to be our golfing messiah.
     
    Evans concluded his piece with these words: The changes we hoped for in 1997 have not materialized, but people of color still follow Tiger as he strides the golf courses of the world. Like the crowds at Galilee to Jerusalem, all they have is their belief in him. Until something more authentic comes along, Tiger is their best hope.
     
    My opinion: Lots of food for thought in Evans words. But, and this is a big but, how do you get more authentic than Tiger Woods?
     
  • Since everybody with a forum is weighing in on Don Imus this week, heres my take:
     
    First of all, Im glad hes not a member of the golf media.
     
    Second, while I will vigorously defend the right of free speech, I will defend to the death everybodys right to be outraged at Imus words and their right to demand his professional scalp.
     
    Count me among the outraged at what Imus said about the Rutgers womens basketball team.
     
  • Next stop on the mens major trail: Oakmont and the U.S. Open in June.
     
    If you thought pars were a precious commodity at this most recent Masters just wait for Oakmont. Its a running joke there among the members that when the USGA comes to their club, they have to slow down the greens.
     
    I cant wait. Oakmont will feature a par 3 that can be stretched to 288 yards and three par 4s that will have tee boxes that will make all of them drivable under the right conditions.
     
    Oakmont will also have the longest par 5 in U.S. Open history, a hole close to 670 yards.
     
    As Jerry Kelly, a former college hockey player, said prior to the third round at last weeks Masters: Lace em up, boys.
     
  • So many companies make so much terrific equipment these days. In no particular order, they include Titleist, Ping, Cleveland, TaylorMade, Nike, Srixon, Cobra, Mizuno, Callaway and more than a few others.
     
    Branding and placement, whether achieved by accident or design, becomes more important than ever. Which is why I couldnt help but be both amused and impressed on the recent season premiere of The Sopranos when Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) was so excited about getting a full set of TaylorMade clubs and a TaylorMade tour bag for his birthday.
     
    Ah, TaylorMades, Tony Soprano cooed.
     
  • The Annika Sorenstam back injury means, among other things, that Lorena Ochoa will almost certainly ascend to No. 1 in the womens world rankings before the end of the season.
     
    It also means the LPGAs young stars will be challenged, more than ever, to step up and fill the void left by Sorenstams absence in the weekly fields until she returns to good health.
     
    Heres hoping that Sorenstam is back soon but not before shes fully recovered.
     
    Meanwhile Sorenstams absence will also increase the importance of the return of Michelle Wie, herself still recovering from a lingering wrist injury.
     
    Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt