SCOTT SIMON, host:
Time now for sports.
(Soundbite of music)
SIMON: Tiger, Tiger, Tiger was the headline leading into this week's Master's Tournament in Augusta. Now it's Trevor, Trevor Immelman. He shot a - Immelman, he shot a 68 the first two days of the tournament.
Joining now in our studio is Ron Rapoport in from the West Coast. Ron, so good to have you here live.
RON RAPOPORT: Thanks, Scott, and thanks for the cherry blessings, you didn't have to go to all that trouble.
SIMON: Anything to make you comfortable, my friend. I - we put them in a tub and bathed with them, you know…
RAPOPORT: Well, I appreciate you going to all that trouble. I mean I…
SIMON: Well, we pasted each and everyone in place by ourselves. Listen, I've never heard of Trevor Immelman before. Will I in the future?
RAPOPORT: Oh, you definitely will. I mean he was the PGA Rookie of the Year a couple years ago and Gary Player compares his swing with Ben Hogan's, which is about as a high a prize as you can get. Scott, if he wins this thing, you're going to be reading a lot about the tumor below his ribcage which was removed in December. It's a great story and he's playing very, very well, two 68s on the first day are its own reward.
SIMON: Can you ever say that Tiger, though, is too far back?
RAPOPORT: Well, eleven shots back, he could make - or seven shots back, he could make that up in a couple of holes, but the problem is there are 11 players ahead of him including Retief Goosen who won a U.S. open, Mike Weir who won a Masters, Phil Mickelson who won two Masters, to think that they are all going to fall back is asking a lot. And you know, Tiger has never won a major when he was trailing starting the final round. So unless he makes up a lot of ground today, the odds are against him.
SIMON: This - 50 years ago this week that Arnold Palmer won his first Masters. Help us appreciate what Arnold Palmer meant to the game and he's often considered the inventor of the modern era still.
RAPOPORT: Well, he did invent it. There's no question about it. Remember now, it was a matter of timing. This is 1958. Television is just coming in. Granny black and white TV, you see the images all the time and here he is with these famous charges coming from behind and making these great shots and kind of disregarding the cigarette on the green and so on, and he made golf exciting.
RAPOPORT: Which nobody had ever accused golf of being exciting before. He brought it into the television era and in a way the rest is history, I think, you know, golf always a great deal of its current status as a major American sports to people's reaction to Palmer and the way he appeared on television as he was winning. He did - you know, arm his army and people started following him around and he really did invent the modern era.
SIMON: Yeah, he really was a galvanizing figure, wasn't he?
RAPOPORT: Well, there's no question about it. And then Jack Nicholas followed in his wake and all of a sudden we're reading and paying more attention to golf than we ever really had before. They brought it out from being an elitist sport into something that people who don't even play the game follow with great interest.
SIMON: Ron, always a pleasure to tee off with you. Thanks so much.
RAPOPORT: Enjoyed it, Scott.
SIMON: This is NPR News.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.