Strategy required to follow Woods and Mickelson on Sunday

Strategy required to follow Woods and Mickelson on Sunday

Planning ahead was the key to seeing the action Sunday.
Robert Beck/SI

AUGUSTA, Ga. — For fans who actually wanted to see Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods hit golf shots Sunday at Augusta National, the ultimate pairing created the ultimate test of cunning.

As Woods and Mickelson teed off on the first hole, thousands of patrons lined the ropes along the tee, stood on the hill near the clubhouse and gazed back from the fairway.

Unless you were at least six feet tall, or had staked out a prime spot at least 45 minutes before they arrived on the tee, you couldn’t see a thing.

No one had the clout to simply walk up and get a good look at the action from up close. Not even Tida Woods, Tiger’s mother, who was walking with Nike’s Phil Knight, could get close.

As she crossed a fairway, a fan carrying two empty beer cups said to his friends, “Hey, there’s Tiger’s mom! She’s like Mary Magdalene or something.”

Jim Jones and his brother Peter realized that the winning formula for seeing the most golf was to sacrifice watching one shot in order to get a better vantage point to see others.

Instead of walking down the second fairway, they hung back, used binoculars to see the action on the green, and then quickly crossed the third fairway to wait for Woods and Mickelson to circle back to their location.

After the players hit their tee shots on the 180-yard, par-3 sixth, not even Hank Haney, Woods’s coach, could get past the swarm of fans. He had to watch Tiger make par from halfway up the hill.

The difference between the Masters and other golf tournaments is that at Augusta National, yelling immediately after players hit their shots is frowned upon. Rarely will you hear, “You Da Man,” but there were plenty of shouts of “Go Phil!” and “C’mon Tiger!”

All the fans wanted to be able to walk into work on Monday morning and say that they had been witnesses to history. While neither Woods nor Mickelson won, those who followed them still saw a show for the ages.