__*"Oh, I don't think so. I should think the cyclone would fear running into bad weather here."
-- Clifford Roberts, 1936, on whether he feared a typhoon might threaten the Masters *__
Great lede by Jim McCabe in today's Boston Globe: __"On a golf course that has placed players in straitjackets when they're in need of ski jackets, the goal remains a green jacket, and yesterday's third round at Augusta National reduced the 71st Masters to two things that have never happened: an Aussie winning and Tiger woods coming from behind to win a major championship." __
Green Jackets and ski jackets aren't images we often mix, but, as the Clifford Roberts' quote from this year's Masters Journal illustrates, the weather has always been a contender at the Masters. And the ability to deal with that weather has created a leaderboard this Easter Sunday of very tough guys.
Earlier in the week a PGA of America official left a conversation to walk over and say hello Zach Johnson, one of our best in last year's Ryder Cup. "We like him," said the official, who will spend the next year and a half trying to solve the problem of our record in the Matches without, say, adding a country. "Nothing phases him. He wasn't intimidated at all in Ireland."
Johnson, who looks to me like a young Bob Goalby, is just one of the tough guys at the top of the leaderboard. Indeed, you might say that this year's Masters has been designed to identify the mentally toughest players in the world. The last time the champion did not come out of the final group, if I'm not mistaken, it was an Englishman named Faldo in 1990. So let me nominate today's dark horse, another Englishman, Justin Rose, who's far tougher than his schoolboy appearance. Rose will be working with his own images today. You may remember a Golf Digest story last year entitled Play by Pictures, by instructor Nick Bradley and our Peter Morrice. Bradley, a former English swim and golf champion who still wears the shaved head of a butterflyer, coaches Rose with the dramatic and dazzling images he presented in that piece. They're working with two in particular this week...though Bradley's not saying which two. What is clear: Rose, who dazzled momentarily in the 1998 British Open, dropped out of sight, and then crawled his way back the upper reaches of the World Ranking, is ready. A Masters Rose? Now that's an image.
-- Bob Carney