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More to watching Masters than Tiger Woods

AUGUSTA GA - APRIL 11:  Tiger Woods United States lines up putt 18th hole during first round 2013 Masters

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 11: Tiger Woods of the United States lines up a putt on the 18th hole during the first round of the 2013 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 11, 2013 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

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Updated: April 12, 2013 3:48PM



Face it: There are a lot of purist golf fans who are fed up with Tiger-Mania, and have been for years and years. (Even before the sordid off-the-course stuff surfaced.)

Their thinking is, if other guys are outplaying Tiger Woods, why so much attention on him?

I’m somewhere in the middle. When I’m watching a tournament like this week’s Masters from my couch, I’m interested in Tiger, but I’m also interested in a bunch of other guys.

If I’m covering the tournament, I have an increased awareness of Woods. Because he is a golfer for the ages. If he does something (like win another major), it’s a big deal. Even when he loses—squanders another opportunity—it’s pretty big. Because we’re always looking for signs of whether he’s going to win again.

In other words, if you’re covering an event, the Tiger Factor always looms large. All that talk about how he intimidates, with his red shirt and clenched jaw. . . if he can just get in position on Sunday, ya-da-ya-da-ya-da.

I understand the fascination. And I can weigh in when needed.

I believe Tiger will win more majors. He is, after all, the current No. 1. I just don’t believe he’ll dominate again the way he did during the Tiger-Slam. He has an excellent game, but the gap that used to exist between him and others is no longer there.

He’s a player that can win if he plays well, and I believe he will play well enough to add to his 14 majors, maybe even take a run at Jack Nicklaus’ 18. If he dials down the intensity, which is a huge question.

I don’t mind if Tiger attracts extra attention. He’s earned that. We’re fascinated by the Woods saga as well as his golf game.

With Tiger, I’m always looking for body language. Didn’t care for the display of disgust after he missed the green on No. 15. He still looks too clenched for golf. His attitude seems be suited to an NFL safety. Then again, he’s always been intense. It just played better when he was younger.

But there are other golfers to watch, too.

It’s always fun to see Phil Mickelson over-think his way around a golf course. He has trick clubs, trick shots—and he smiles. He inter-acts. He gets into trouble, out of trouble—and we care. Because most of us like his style. And those who don’t like his style also care—because he’s important.

It’s great to see a resurgent Sergio Garcia scoring well. That big fluid swing. The running after the ball. And most of all, I’m always interested in seeing whether Sergio can conquer his putting demons.

Smooth Fred Couples at Augusta is must-see. The 14-year-old phenom is a delight and a wonder.

Trying to figure out who’s going to put their game together and be the next Bubba or Schwartzel or Oosthuizen is intriguring. Because at Augusta, merely watching how anyone plays certain shots is a joy.

No. 4, the rugged opening par-3. . . the second shot on the par-five 8th. . . just about any shot on the back nine, but especially the classic No. 12 par-three over the creek. And when it comes to No. 13, it’s interesting to see how everyone approaches the most fun par-five anywhere.

I want to see how Tiger does. But I want to see other guys, too. And with Augusta, I’m happy just seeing the golf course. It’s a rite of spring—even when it’s not a Tiger Watch.



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