AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Masters Sunday.
There are no two better words in golf, unless they're Tiger and Woods, Jack and Nicklaus or especially at this place, Arnold and Palmer.
You could see the anticipation already in Jim Nantz's eyes Saturday night, coming out of the CBS tower behind 18 at Augusta National, talking to Brandt Snedeker's caddie, Scott Vail. The way the curtain came down on the third round, with Snedeker and Trevor Immelman staking shots in front of Nantz's perch, raised the anticipation level for what could happen today as these two kids scrap and claw for the jacket, with a cast that includes Tiger, young Englishman Paul Casey and the sweet-swinging lefty, Steve Flesch. As Nantz told Vail, "We could hear you breathing."
It was just a classic interchange of two caddies, Vail and Neal Wallace saying the right things, pulling the right clubs, giving the right vibes a championship caddie must give in that situation--and they delivered, along with their players.
It was 50 degrees this morning walking through the gates at 9:30, and my fingers were starting to numb by the time I reached the press center. I wondered how that would affect the feel of a Snedeker or an Immelman, or a Woods for that matter. The week started hot and humid, has weathered various fronts, a fog bank and still is on time, despite 5 hour and 14 minute rounds. Somehow they always get it in.
Todd Anderson, who works with Snedeker in Sea Island, was saying Saturday night that his player feels so comfortable here, and you can see it in the young man's gait. It's like he's playing a home game. "I think he's at ease," Anderson said, as Snedeker was whisked off to the media center. "He loves this place and the way he has to play it."
Immelman looked a little tight at times, but produced a Gary Player-like shot into the home hole, where a day earlier The Black Knight kissed the green. "The kid sees himself winning and playing great and doing fantastic things in golf," says his sport psychologist, Bob Rotella.
Flesch, the everyman on the board, has defied the notion that this is too big a golf course for him, and Casey just hasn't been able to avoid the little mistakes that major championship winners can't afford. The tree branches are already swaying, and Casey has grown up playing in wind but not this kind of competitive heat.
Which bring us to Tiger, who's still trying to figure out a way, a speed that doesn't burn the left edge, a gear that he hasn't found here since 2005. If he can make a move early, get past No. 1 with a par, pick up a shot at the par-5 second, take out the driver and finally make something happen at No. 3, then it's a ballgame. We all want to see how he's going to handle that tee ball at 18, especially if it means something. Or if we get to see him save par from the 10th fairway again, or from the pine straw, over, yes over, the trees.
"I'm right there," Woods said.
Why should we be surprised? It's Masters Sunday.