By Bob Sheppard
The Augusta National has hosted the Masters for quite a few years now, and along with the repeated success of that daunting task the club has also graciously protected and preserved the tournament’s traditions. With the Masters being played at the same location every year, the golf course, in order to test the best, needs to be rethought and redesigned to accommodate the technological and agronomical changes that are constantly occurring in the sport. While in the midst of these constant changes the club has taken great pride and responsibility in preserving the aura and mystique that surrounds the Masters.
A coincidence is thought to be a collection of two or more events that are related by time. When these events happen they form a special relationship that intrigues us, and we construe that there is a magnetic type of relationship between these coexisting events that will continue. When these events reoccur we can’t help but believe them to be true.
The year was 1963 when a young, burly 23-year-old named Jack Nicklaus won the first of his six Masters. At the start of the final round he was leading the field by 1-stroke, and at day’s end he finished his round still one stroke ahead of runner-up Tony Lema. With this victory he also became the Masters “youngest champion” ever.
1980 and 17 years later
The year was 1980 when a handsome 23-year-old Spaniard named Seve Ballesteros won the first of his two Masters championships. With this victory he became the the first European winner and he also became the Masters “youngest champion” ever.
1997 and 17 years later
The year was 1997 when a 21-year-old named Tiger Woods won the first of his four – up to then – Masters championships. With this victory he became the Masters “youngest champion” ever.
2014 and 17 years later
The year was 2014, and there was a 20-year-old named Jordan Spieth.
It was the right year for another “youngest champion,” another first-timer, to don the green jacket, to conquer the crown. After all it had been 17 years.
Jordan Spieth emerged on Sunday as the leader. He was the fan favorite, the next great American golfer. He was in line to become the next Masters “youngest champion” ever. What a coincidence this would have been, or what a continuation of coincidences it would have been, for the 17 year cycle of the Masters “youngest champions.”
But then within two holes his two-shot lead became a two-shot deficit and all of what seemed probable would end at hole 12. That was when his well hit tee shot mysteriously rolled away from the hole and disappeared into Rae’s Creek.
Amen Corner can be so cruel.