The Masters

What does Tiger Woods have to do with a renowned 19th century poet? It beats an entrance song

April 6, 2018
DEA / BIBLIOTECA AMBROSIANA

Portrait of the British poet Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892), illustration from The Graphic, volume XXVIII, no 722, September 29, 1883.

Those fortunate enough to have tuned in early to ESPN, even a few hours before its Masters telecast was to have begun, would have discovered that it was showing live golf on its Sports Center at the Masters show.

They, too, would have been exposed to English literature, specifically the 19th century British poet Alfred Lord Tennyson.

ESPN’s Sports Center at the Masters show, in fact, showed the first five holes of Tiger Woods’ round on Friday and even had a camera on Tiger in the woods at the fifth hole, taking an unplayable lie and a drop. More importantly, though, it had introduced him at the first tee with a recitation of the last verses of Tennyson’s poem, Ulysses:

It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:

It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,

And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'

We are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

How it plays to a golf audience more accustomed to hearing mashed potatoes is anyone’s guess, though we submit that it trumps athletes’ entrance music, more erudite certainly.

It was an appropriate choice of poetry, at any rate, notably the last two lines, for a heretofore broken-down tour pro attempting a comeback. Time and fate have weakened Woods, but apparently not his will. He’s still striving, even after falling out of contention.


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