You don’t know me, but I write to you often. You have occupied the idol spot in my life for as long as I can remember (somewhere between 1997/98). We have never met, and I have never had the chance to watch you play in person until this week. You were working on your putting on the practice green between the 1st and 10th tee’s at Augusta National after your Tuesday press conference. My Dad turned to me as I stood there in awe and said, “are you alright?” and all I could muster up as a response was, “He’s actually real”.
After your win at East Lake, I wrote a letter talking about that gravity of that win, and how you had impacted my life to this point. I also touched on how your career has spanned my life and has put a lot of things into perspective. More importantly I ended the letter saying this, “I’ll see you at Augusta in April with the azaleas in full bloom”. Well here we are now. Monday morning after your 5th Master’s victory and 15th Major Championship. Back in August, after your victory I said, I had no doubt you would win another major and what a better one to win, than “that tournament in April”. You have a way for the theatrics my friend.
You set the record for longest time between Green Jackets at 14 years. You moved to solo second all time for Masters wins at 5, only one behind Jack. You notched your 81st win putting you just one behind Sam Snead for all time PGA Tour victories. Most importantly you are one closer to Jack’s record of 18 majors. All of those records, and stats are amazing and are a huge part of why you do what you do but today I saw something else.
As you walked off the 18th green after celebrating with Joey, you went to your son Charlie with outstretched arms and gave him one of the warmest embraces I have ever seen. It reminded me of another embrace behind that green with you and your late father Earl. In that sequence that Jim Nantz and CBS put together with those two images, it all made sense. You aren’t only doing this for yourself, you are doing it for your kids. You are showing Charlie and Sam what it means to work hard for something that you want. I’m sure you have changed the way the look at golf along the way as well .
I wish I could have been there in person today, but I was supporting back at home. I have a tendency to be on my feet for the entire 4-5 hour round, pacing back and forth, throwing in a bunch of fist pumps and a few expletives from time to time. The performance this week was stellar, it was patience, it was methodical, it was direct, it was in control, it was strong, and ultimately it was victorious. I will always remember where I was when you won your 5th green jacket, and I know there are are going to be more to come here very soon. Everything after the round rivaled the performance. Seeing the support from your friends, family, fellow competitors, past champions, the broadcast team and the patrons just showed how much respect everyone has for you an how much we have missed this.
You made me want to hug my pops today, and I couldn’t be happier to say that he and I were at Augusta the week you broke the streak. So this one’s for you Big Cat, enjoy it, have fun at “Show and Tell at school”, and we will all see you in New York next month.