Nepali Times
Tee Break
Tiger at the top


I haven't missed The Masters since 1997 and a light fever wasn't going to stop me from staying up to watch its live telecast till it ended on Sunday.

The Masters is the only major golf championship played on the same golf course every year-the Augusta National Golf Club, Georgia, USA. It's a stunning golf course famous for the sleek greens with tricky contours. Players often suffer severe consequences for missing the green on the wrong side or even just being on the wrong part of the green in relation to the flag's position.

The tournament organisers had a tough time at this year's Masters. The weather caused a few hours' delay on the very first day and almost a total washout on the next. This meant that most players had to play 27 holes on each of the last two days. If you missed the last 18 holes of the four-day tournament, let me try and recreate the drama and excitement between the two golfing greats-Tiger Woods and Chris DiMarco.

After 54 of the 72 holes, Tiger Woods on 11 under was leading Chris DiMarco by three strokes. The rest of the field was far behind. Woods started with a birdie on the first hole (par four) to extend his lead to four. Both then birdied the second (par five). Woods dropped a shot on the par four fifth and both birdied the par four ninth. With nine holes to go, Woods was still leading by three strokes.

On par four 10th, both missed the green and Woods failed to make it up and down. The lead was down to two. DiMarco birdied the next and there was just one between them.

Then on the par three 12th, DiMarco missed the green and failed to chip and putt for a par. On the 14th par four, one of the most difficult holes, DiMarco hit his second shot to two feet from the hole for a tap in birdie. Next on the par five 15th, Woods reached the green in two but DiMarco responded from 100 yards hitting to a few feet of the pin. Both made birdies.

Going into the 178 yards par three 16th, DiMarco hit the green while Woods' ball ended up over the back. Woods made an exceptional chip from one of the most difficult positions and DiMarco missed his birdie putt.

So at the 17th, Woods had a two-stroke cushion but proceeded to hit a wild drive that left him with no chances of attacking the flag. He failed to make it up and down and dropped a shot.

With just one shot between them on the last hole, Woods put his approach into the right hand bunker and DiMarco was just short of the green. Woods failed to make a sandy by missing an eight-footer whereas DiMarco almost chipped in and safely made his par.

Tied after 72 holes, both Woods and DiMarco had to go into a playoff to decide on a winner. The first playoff hole was a replay of the par four 18th and both tee shots found the fairway. But DiMarco was 30 yards behind Woods and his approach shot rolled down a slope and rested on the edge of the green. Woods confidently hit to 12 feet. DiMarco's chip stayed just a foot from the hole for tap in par. Then up stepped Woods who proceeded to sink that birdie putt to win the Augusta Masters for the fourth time (1997, 2001, 2002 and 2005).

Ever since the US Open in 2002, Woods had a 'majors' drought and now the spell is broken. With this year's Masters, he is back as golf's top tiger, toppling Vijay Singh.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)