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The PGA returns to “reality”

Sports Column
Mike Bianchi
The Orlando Sentinel

AUGUSTA, Ga.: In the illustrious annals of golf, this 72nd Masters will go down in the history books with the 1992 Yeehaw Junction Yip and Yank Member-Guest and the 2004 Goony Golf Pro-Am held at the Tiki Island Volcano Course on International Drive.

Green jacket? This Masters was so dull and neutral, the winner should have been awarded a gray sweater. Those weren’t roars echoing across the hallowed grounds of Augusta National on Sunday, they were moans. And that massive clicking sound you heard as Trevor Immelman ran away with the tournament Sunday was the nation switching its TV sets to a rerun of America’s Funniest Home Videos.

Actually, there wasn’t much difference between those humorous home videos and CBS’s wall-to-wall coverage of Tiger Woods’ putrid putting stroke Sunday.

“I didn’t make the putts I needed to make all week,” Tiger lamented afterward. “I hit the ball well; I just couldn’t putt.”

Tiger’s talk of a grand slam turned into a grand scam, at least for anybody who was buying it to begin with.

Hopefully now, we can return to some sort of sanity and sensibility when it comes to discussing the game of
golf. There is an old song by the R&B group En Vogue and it goes like this this:

“Back to life, back to reality.
Back to life, back from a fantasy.”

Translation: Can we now get back to the real world of professional golf where, repeat after me, Tiger Woods is not going to win every tournament, Tiger Woods is not going to “easily” win the grand slam and Tiger Woods is not infallible and invincible.

This just in: Since the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Tiger Woods is 0-2. The Miami Heat have won more than Tiger in the last month. Hey, maybe all those preposterous pundits will now start commentating about how he might never win again.

Of course, such comments would be almost as ridiculous as some of the nonsense that has been said and written over the last month. You’ve heard it and read it. There were actually legitimate journalists out there who claimed Tiger finishing the PGA Tour season unbeaten was a possibility and Tiger winning the grand slam was even more likely.

Of course, Tiger himself contributed to the noise. When I asked him at Bay Hill if he thought it was possible to win every tournament, he replied: “That’s the intent. That’s the way I’ve always played.” Then there was the comment he made on his Web site when he said winning the grand slam was “easily within reason.”

Yes, even Tiger bought into the Tiger hype.

“I learned my lesson with the press,” Tiger said Sunday.

Don’t worry about it, kid.

Heck, the fact that you were able to show up here Sunday with your D-game and still finish all alone in second place, albeit three shots behind Immelman, is pretty remarkable.

In fairness, it was a long shot to think Tiger would rally from six shots down after the third round, but didn’t you at least expect him to put some pressure on Immelman?

Let’s face it, Immelman didn’t win the Masters so much as he survived it. He shot a 3-over-par 75 Sunday and matched the highest final round in history by a Masters champion. But when Tiger was on the course, he never got within five shots of Immelman.

Tiger didn’t birdie any of the par 5s Sunday. He missed four makeable birdie putts. He missed a 2-footer for par. If he had just been able to shoot anything in the 60s, he could have won the tournament.

But, alas, Tiger doesn’t lord over Augusta National like he once did. He’s only posted a number in the 60s once in his last 13 rounds here, and this is the fifth time in six years he leaves here without a green jacket.

Who would have ever thought the revered “Cathedral in the Pines” would turn into Tiger’s reviled house of horrors?

Who would ever thought that when Tiger stepped on the greens here, the azaleas would turn into assail-yas?

Who would have ever thought Tiger would be dogged by the dogwoods and messed up by the magnolias?

Turns out the grand slam was merely a grand illusion.

Back to life, back to reality.

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