A Masters Plan


It had all the makings of the greatest Masters in history, beginning with Arnold Palmer's last stand at Augusta National and ending with six of the world's top seven players vying for the title. We salivated for Sunday's potential theater, but when all was said and done, we were left thirsting for more at the 2002 Masters.
It was quiet. You could hear a pin drop more often than you could hear a ball drop from any of Tiger's chasers on Sunday in Augusta. The crowds wanted a battle. Instead, they could only marvel at Tiger Woods' ability to do just what he needed to do to capture his third green jacket. All it took was a final round 71.
He becomes only the third man in Masters' history to win back-to-back trophies behind Jack Nicklaus and Nick Faldo.
Tiger said his goal at the start of the day was to play both sides under par. As it turns out, he could've played them in even par and still won the tournament. Retief Goosen, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh and Sergio Garcia are only left to wonder what hit them. This time it wasn't a train otherwise known as Tiger. This time it was a slippery track that derailed the world's top locomotives, at least that was their explanation.
These men were a combined 9-over-par in the final round and they each said, like it was a rehearsed statement they rounded up in a huddle, the course was difficult and the pins were tough to reach. Somehow, Tiger had no problem with the hole locations.
When people say he's in a slump, Woods silences them. When they say the gap is closing between the world's No. 1 and the rest of the Tour, he widens it. We are witnessing something special. It should be considered a privilege to be a part of this generation able to watch history unfold right before our very eyes. He has won six of the last 10 majors and has captured seven before the age of 27. He is more than a third of the way to matching Jack Nicklaus' collection of 18 professional major titles. Tiger Woods is what you get when you mix imagination with reality. Meanwhile, the rest of the tour is living a nightmare.
If you think a major was hard to win before Tiger, it's nearly impossible now. You must wait until he's having an off-week and pray that yours is on.
It's a tournament that every little boy dreams of winning. It's a jacket that would warm the shoulders of any champion on the coldest of days, but it's a major that now belongs to Tiger Woods and no one else.
At the 2002 Masters, a six-time champion withdrew, a four-time champion said goodbye and one of only two three-time champions established himself as the new owner of Augusta. It's a new generation and one that we are all fortunate enough to witness.