The Masters: A Natural Attraction

Tiger Woods checks the wind against a backdrop showing Augusta's spring colors. i i

hide captionTiger Woods checks the wind against a backdrop showing Augusta's spring colors.

Reuters
Tiger Woods checks the wind against a backdrop showing Augusta's spring colors.

Tiger Woods checks the wind against a backdrop showing Augusta's spring colors.

Reuters

Azaleas, pimento cheese and that green jacket: this rite of spring at Augusta National has always been about much more than golf. The 70th Annual Masters Tournament is under way... and so it must be spring.

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DEBBIE ELLIOTT, host:

I don't play golf. I wouldn't even call myself a golf fan, but this time of year I find myself drawn to the television set to watch the Masters. The hushed and reverent voices of the TV commentators pull me right in. I long to be down in Georgia snacking on pimento cheese sandwiches and walking the azalea-lined pathways of Augusta National Golf Club. It's the only major golf tournament that I keep up with.

I couldn't even tell you who's atop the PGA standings this year, but I can tell you about Tiger Woods' amazing sudden death comeback last year and his emotional victory speech dedicated to his dad, or when he became the youngest ever Masters champion in 1997. Or 10 years ago when the Shark, Greg Norman, fell apart on the last round, giving Nick Faldo his third Masters title. Or 20 years ago when Jack Nicholas put on the coveted green jacket for a record sixth time, at the age of 46, the oldest golfer to win at Augusta National.

Fred Couples is 46 this year and is just a few strokes off the lead. I'm routing for him this weekend. My three-year-old son still likes Tiger. Sure, it irks me that Augusta National refuses to allow women members. Seems pretty silly in an era when I'm betting my golf pro sister-in-law could hold her own against any one of the club executives.

So what is it that keeps me tuning in every year despite the anachronistic policies of the tournament hosts? I think it has more to do with Augusta National's groundskeepers than policymakers. The Masters pulls me out of the winter fog. There, in full focus, are banks of fuchsia azalea blossoms glistening under a canopy of white dogwoods.

(Soundbite of music)

ELLIOTT: The lush rolling greens and fuzzy roughs trigger childhood memories of running barefoot through the fresh cut grass. It's not so much about golf as it is the official arrival of spring, and in spring, anything is possible. Even a 46-year-old golfer is in the hunt to win the Masters.

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