Monday, January 14, 2008

It's that time of the year again. I'm sneezing every 4.3 minutes, and I'm on the Fatkins diet, so I won't look like Chris Farley in a necktie for my headshot at Augusta. I'm not sure about this high-protein, low-carbohydrate deal. The whole potato-deprivation thing is cruel and unusual punishment for an Irishman, and also, I'm having difficulty with the lack of fiber. It's like giving birth to a shillelagh once a week.

But enough of my personal struggle against the forces of human nature -- it's almost time for the world's greatest golf tournament. I know there are a couple of weeks to go, but everything else on the run into The Masters seems to fade into irrelevance for me, as I prepare myself for the great event.

I'm kind of like Tiger when I prepare for a major.

That last sentence was such a monumental load of crap that it deserves to either stand alone like a paragraph, or be deleted. I'll leave it up to you. You're my jury here, and you can choose do disregard it if you want, but the truth is, I do treat The Masters very differently to the regular tour events we cover at CBS.

For a start, I never get invited to play the golf course at any other event. On the Sunday before The Masters, the announcers play Augusta National, so that we can familiarize ourselves with the subtle changes that occur every year. I know, I know, but somebody has to do it. I'm just waiting for that inevitable Sunday afternoon when our leader finds himself in a huge, gouging, 45-degree spade mark on the downslope at 15, a divot that has "Lundquist" tattooed all over it. I'd have to lie like a berber carpet.

The other thing that we are asked to do, by way of preparation, is putt on our respective greens before play on all four days of the tournament. That way, we have no excuse for reading one incorrectly. Damn! I'm looking forward to watching Bill Macatee 15-putt the 14th, and being carted off on a green stretcher, foaming at the mouth. Folks, these are the toughest greens in the world. I would bet, if I were allowed to place the ball 30 feet away on each green, that an average 10-handicapper would not two-putt more than four or five times out of 18, and probably wouldn't get more than one first putt dead. Yeah, yeah, you can disagree all you want, but you're never going to find out. You'll just have to take my word for it. Ha, ha. Suffer.

Of course, I'll be zipping it, sucking it up, clenching desperately, and drinking decaffeinated all week. That goes without saying. I can alter my style to suit the moment, which at Augusta is considerably more serious than anywhere else. If you don't believe me, just look at the player's faces. This one means more than any other to them, as it should.

To answer the question I am most commonly asked, no, McCord will probably never work there again. And yes, we miss the idiot. But if he were to even attempt to alter his style, there would be about 30 seconds of silence, followed by the sound of his head exploding. It just wouldn't work. Not on this particular week.

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