EVENT: Masters, Augusta (Ga.) National Golf Club
DATE: April 7
"Right before the Masters, everybody was talking about Tiger,
saying he could win the Grand Slam, all this stuff. He was the
Man, no question about that. We were asked to handicap the field.
I picked Tiger. He already had won three tournaments, he was
talking about how well he was putting, and Butch Harmon was
talking about how crisp his wedge game was. How could you not
"Then he shot a 75 in the first round and a 72 on Friday. At the
end of two rounds he was nine shots back. His putting wasn't
sharp enough to win at Augusta, his short-iron play wasn't dialed
in, and there wasn't as much intensity as we're accustomed to
seeing. He looked frustrated, confused. And here are some of the
guys in front of him: Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, David Duval, Tom
Lehman and Phil Mickelson. So I get on TV on Friday night and
say, 'I was wrong with my pretournament pick. Tiger's done.'
Tiger just wasn't going to win, all those shots back, not against
those guys--that was my take. That's my job, to analyze a
situation and say what I think.
"On Saturday morning Tiger makes a bogey early in the round, but
then he goes crazy. I'm in our studio in Orlando, we're getting
constant scoring updates, and he's going straight up the list. He
also gets the greatest weather break of all time. The guys who
teed off in the afternoon played in this nasty, cold wind. They
had to pull 'em off the course at one point. The conditions were
unplayable. Tiger played maybe five holes in that stuff, and he
shoots 68. At the end of the day he's in fifth place.
"At his press conference Tiger says he didn't appreciate my
comments--although he never says my name--and brings up that old
story in which [sportswriter] Bob Drum gets Arnold Palmer all
fired up by saying Palmer was out of the '60 U.S. Open at Cherry
Hills. Tiger says he's not out of it. Then Butch says something
like, 'Mark's employers should question his intelligence as an
analyst,' and says that I had really irritated Tiger.
"Let me tell you about feeling the wrath of Team Tiger--it's not a
nice place to be. I felt naked. I felt neutered. I felt like that
scene in the movie Carrie, when she's at the prom. I wanted to
retire from broadcasting. I felt like I had totally blown it.
"But the fact is, Tiger didn't win, although he could have. After
that, I didn't see him until the U.S. Open. We had a studio at
Pebble Beach, and Tiger was in there after his win. On his way
out I say to him, 'That's some of the best golf anybody has ever
played.' He makes no eye contact with me and gives me this quick,
cold, 'Thanks, Mark.' I mean, it's two months later, he's just
won the U.S. Open by 15 shots, and he's still ticked! That was a
revelation. He's got a long memory."
B/W PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPH BY JULIE DENNIS BROTHERS/SABA
Tiger's percentage of rounds under par (67 of 76). Next best was
Phil Mickelson with 75% (59 of 80).