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Is the Masters the top major championship in golf?

By Times staff writers
Published April 3, 2005


The Masters is not the greatest major. This opinion is no slight against Augusta National, nor has it anything to do with the club's refusal to admit female members. This is about the tournament itself. To Johnny-come-lately golf fans, the Masters is the only event that seems to matter. But take away the commercial-free broadcasts and the 8-million camera shots of blooming plants, and what do you have? An invitational.

You get to the Masters by finishing high on the money list and winning other events. The end result is a field of only 101 this year, much less than the other majors. The top players get invites, but what about the next tier? Golf is an amazing sport. On any given Sunday Jack Fleck can beat Ben Hogan. The Masters limits the imagination because it limits the field.

Some argue the Masters has the greatest champions. That might be true, but is it all that bad when an Andy North wins the U.S. Open? Also, Consider this: At the Masters, you win with birdies. At the U.S. Open, you win by surviving. It is golf the way it is meant to be played. You punish players for bad shots and reward them for making par. Professionals should struggle to win a major, not shoot 15-under.



In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit I hate golf. Don't get it. Never did. Not being able to play it doesn't help, but I honestly can't generate the excitement.

That said, I watch the Masters every year. Simply put, because it is golf.

There are horse races in the fall in California and New York that attract the best thoroughbreds in the world, and most sports fans either don't realize or don't care. But they watch the Kentucky Derby. Because it is horse racing.

They watch baseball games at Wrigley Field because it is baseball, not offended that the men who played there in 1920 couldn't hit balls out on the street.

Sometimes the venue, the sense of the sport is more important than agate type and money lists. Winning at Augusta seals a golfer's legacy. Fail and they're a line short on their resume.

There's just something about those lush greens and the pomp and circumstance, enough to make that tacky green jacket seem like such a gift at the end of it all.

Worry about stroke average elsewhere.

Just watch the Masters and respect it for what it is: golf.


[Last modified April 3, 2005, 00:10:19]

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