|Rory McIlroy at the U.S. Masters|
The young lad with the white belt from last week’s column was back in the Dervan family household on Sunday night, back in time to share the Masters in all its glory on our high definition picture courtesy of Sky Sports.
The aspiring golfer – he’s still playing off scratch – had, like so many of us, switched allegiances from Rory McIlroy, seeking Ireland’s first Masters, to an Australian for the final round of golf’s greatest tournament.
After accepting that the green jacket wasn’t coming to the land of the green for another year, most Irish fans were happy to side with our cousins down under, many of whom we could lay claim to anyway.
My money, now that Rory was out with the guys finishing up their rounds as the leaders were on the driving range getting ready to play, was on Jason Day.
Two years after he almost won the Masters, there was something with Day’s eyes that told me he was ready for Augusta glory. In fact, Day’s new routine involves closing those same eyes before his shots, emerging himself in a meditational trance and imagining the perfect marriage between the club and the ball in front of him.
It worked on Sunday for Day. Well, for most of Sunday.
At the 15th, with the green jacket in his hands and the world at the feet, Day landed a third birdie in a row. My man was looking good.
But such is Masters golf, it can all turn in a second. And it did.
A bogey at 16 and another on 17 followed. When he missed a birdie putt on 18, Day knew night had fallen on his Masters dream.
My young friend with the white belt had gone home at this stage, but not before telling me that Adam Scott would win a first ever Masters for the land down under. I didn’t believe him so I sided with Angel Cabrera, a man who looks like he eats two big Argentinean steaks a day and washes them down with his country’s finest red wines.
Scott, like my earlier viewing partner, had faith in his own ability. When he went a step better than compatriot Day and birdied the 18th, he too thought he had it won.
He even accepted an Aussie flag off a delighted spectator as he made his way to sign for his card and to wait for Cabrera and Brandt Snedeker to close out the tournament.
Then Cabrera, the only player left to challenge Scott, produced the most incredible chip to set himself up for a birdie on the 18th force a playoff for the Masters that seemed impossible when he was available at odds of 110-1 at the start of the week.
Another friend, one who had mocked my earlier message that I was watching the drama unfold with a real golfer in the living room, suddenly had to accept that the 2013 Masters was full of just that – drama.
And that is the beauty of golf’s marquee event. You just never know what is going to happen next on the most manicured fairways in the world.
And that’s why the only place better than sitting in front of your television on Masters Sunday must be sitting by that very same 18th green.
I’ve never had the privilege. It’s the one journalistic experience left on my bucket list, and maybe someday I will get there.
But I can tell you something for nothing. Watching the final holes of any Masters is as good a sporting experience as you will encounter anywhere in the world.
Long before Sunday night we’d witnessed drama. Tiger should have been disqualified for signing for the wrong score, and the young Chinese kid Guan should have been issued with a ticking off and not a one shot penalty for slow play.
But for all that, nothing compared to the final three holes of the 2013 tournament, two of them playoff holes.
Angel Cabrera almost did enough to win the green jacket for a second time. Adam Scott just about did enough to win it for a first time.
And the rest of us went home happy – or went to bed happy in Ireland in the early hours of Sunday morning.
As the celebrated Newstalk commentator and keen golfer Dave McIntyre put it in a tweet, the only disappointing thing about the Masters is that we have to wait another 12 months now for the next one. Bring it on.