What a day, what a Masters


Augusta —  Even Sam Goldwyn would never have made a movie like this.

Nonsense, pure unadulterated nonsense. It was the championship round of that old Southern sports treasure, the Masters, and indeed, so eventually it developed, but inside that storm a tempest developed that completely distracted the invigorated thousands who lined the hills and hummocks of Augusta National. It was Easter Sunday, and the sun shone brightly, and the winds merely wafted through the pines as the 50 players teed off in pursuit of the precious green jacket. Intervening, however, was the match within the contest between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, paired for the 24th time in their careers, but rarely on such an emotional stage as this.

But first, the championship. After all the drives and all the putts, and birdies and bogeys of the day, nothing was decided until Kenny Perry, Chad Campbell and the Argentine, Angel Cabrera, played off a three-way tie. Campbell had already finished at 276 and sat it out in the scorer’s cabin while Perry bogeyed the 18th and Cabrera dropped a short putt that filled out the playoff cast.

It had been a kind of combative day that kept these thousands of spectators on edge, giving their lungs an exhausting workout. Mickelson swept Woods on the front nine, but finally won the personal match when Tiger came apart with bogeys on the l7th and 18th holes.

Roars, oh, they talk about how the roars have been missing on the incoming nine on Sunday afternoon since alterations to the course. Well, there was no shortage of roars this Sunday. Seldom č maybe never č have those Georgia pines been rattled with a such a shower of decibels. Throughout it all, Perry clung to the lead with a string of 11 straight pars until a shuffle began at the top of the board. Even Mickelson, at one time, played his way into second place, before crashing Rae’s Creek with his tee shot on the par-3 12th hole.

The playoff began on the 18th hole and Campbell, the quiet Texan, was first out. Perry and Cabrera moved on to the 10th hole, and the Kentuckian had a chance to become the oldest winner of a major championship in history. But he didn’t, tiring, no doubt at the age of 48, missing the green on his approach. The burly Cabrera had been there before, U.S. Open champion at Oakmont two years ago. Thus, his second major title, all on U.S. soil. A crushing blow for Perry, for whom opportunities as golden as these rarely ever come to

one his age.

This was a rare day at Augusta, in that views of the leaders were scant while CBS concentrated its attention on the Mickelson-Woods shootout. In the end, this kind of made up a disheartening loss to the country of Argentina. For back in 1968, the revered Roberto de Vicenzo, one of the great players of his time, had the Masters won, but made the error of signing an incorrect scorecard, not of his doing.

The green jacket, instead, went to Bob Goalby of Illinois, while de Vicenzo mournfully pleaded, “I am such a stupid.” He still lives in his native land, a much honored figure.

Cabrera is 39 years old, a veteran campaigner on world tours, concentrating mainly on the U.S. He has played well in the Masters, three times finishing in the top 10. But he’ll never see another day such as this, nor will the thousands of lusty golf parishioners who lined the fairways. One of those days that will long cling to the memory.

24 comments Add your comment

The Big Bug

April 12th, 2009
9:01 pm

Now I wish I hadn’t left the TV to take the Easter basket to my grandaughter. I thought Perry had it sewn up. But heck, I left the Braves’ NL championship Sid Bream game about the 7th so there you go.

El Bravo

April 12th, 2009
9:54 pm

Mr. Bisher, two quick corrections. De Vicenzo did not have the Masters won. He would have tied to force a playoff but instead ended up finishing a shot behind due to te incorrect score. The actual quote by De Vicenzo was “What a stupid I am”. Cheers.


April 12th, 2009
9:57 pm

FB has said it all – no comments needed to cloud the imagery.


April 12th, 2009
10:25 pm

Mr. Bisher, well played


April 12th, 2009
10:47 pm

This is why Bisher is still the best.

The Old Man

April 12th, 2009
11:44 pm

It was Easter Sunday at church, then a classic Masters on afternoon TV, for a native Georgian and Southern Baptist, it don’t get much better than that. Okay Lord, you can take me home now.

Charles Brannon

April 13th, 2009
12:57 am

According to the contemporaneous Sports Illustrated article in 1968, what Roberto de Vicenzo, who spoke very little English, said to the press was, “I am a stupid.”


April 13th, 2009
9:14 am

It is the players job to make sure the score card is correct. So it was of his own doing.

[...] The AJC’s Furman Bisher writes what a day, what a Masters. [...]

[...] The AJC’s Furman Bisher writes what a day, what a Masters. [...]


April 13th, 2009
11:45 am

The final round of the Masters in Augusta National yesterday was the greatest Sunday ever.There were so many sub-plots going on:Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson battling on every hole,Angel Cabrera,Kenny Perry,and Chad Campbell wrestling with nervousness on Sunday.GreatDrama!

Coastal Cavalier

April 13th, 2009
11:53 am

An important part of my Masters tradition is reading Mr. Bisher on Monday afterwards. And once again he does not disappoint. Another great one.


April 13th, 2009
12:16 pm

Well done Mr. Payne and co. The course has been Perfectly Contstructed the last 3 years… finally the weather cooperated and we were rewarded with fantastic golf. The changes made with the new permanent structures out on the course were excellent. An absolutely fantastic weekend of major golf and beautiful weather.


April 13th, 2009
12:24 pm

its about time that justice was done. the master was taking away from a man that could not speak english.good day for me.


April 13th, 2009
3:08 pm

Advice to Masters
Leave Allister McKenzie and Bobby Jone’s masterpiece alone.
Buy an adjacent piece of property and build a stadium course with
bleachers and skyboxes, and sell another 100,000 tickets. Have Ticketmaster and Stub Hubb sell the badges for thousands of dollars each(which they are already doing online; wonder who the “patrons” are contributing these?) Build a couple more of the WalMart souvenier shops (like the one beside No. 1). Suggest over by No. 5 so us ol’ patrons won’t have to fight the crowds to get to the one over by No. 1.
I have been to the Masters for several decades and it has become a circus.
It’s all about the greed and the money.
I now think the Open is the only Major, all the rest are driven by Capitalism.


April 13th, 2009
8:25 pm

This years’ Masters was one of the best ever. I hated to see anyone lose.

I have been racking my old brain all day. Someone please tell me who was the tall golfer from Rome or Gainesville who kept Roberto’s score card? I just can’t remember.


April 13th, 2009
9:11 pm

Are you speaking of Tommy Aaron?

Charles Brannon

April 14th, 2009
12:11 am

I stand corrected. It took a while to find it, but de Vicenzo’s quote was, “I play golf all over the world for 30 years, and now all I can think of is what a stupid I am to be wrong in this wonderful tournament.”


April 14th, 2009
6:49 am

Kenny Perry may have ‘tired’, but he did certainly ‘choke’. Big time. But somehow no one wants to say it. And Mr. Campbell, you have a 4 foot putt to keep in the game. You leave it right. That, too, was a ‘choke’. But who can blame them? It’s the Masters and only ‘masters’ should win. These 2 journeymen golfers proved it by wilting under the pressure, siezed by the moment, not seizing it. The winner? Yep, the guy who didn’t lose it. Great day, nice article, so-so tournament.

noel habib

April 14th, 2009
7:16 am

de Vicenzo was robbed of a playoff appearance against Goalby in “68 by Augusta National officials and Tommy Aaron, both who conspired to stop a foreigner from winning the tournament. Aaron and Masters officials, who had similar, but not exactly the same, reasons to hate the Argentine– one of which was the fact that Argentina had welcomed and hidden some of the most heinous Nazi criminals– both knew that de Vicenzo’s lack of English would make him easy prey for the absurd and archaic formality of players keeping their own score, an outrageous rule that should have been abolished in every golf tournament the first day their was ever an official on the golf course. Do basketball players have to report the final score at the end of the game? And if incorrect, have to forfeit, for example, a SEC game? Aaron gave de Vicenzo a 4 on the 17th, when he had actually scored a game-changing birdie. Isn’t that interesting. Aaron WORSENED de Vicenzo’s score, and at the most critical time of the tourney. Human error? Guess again. Everyone on the planet following golf then, not only knew the score of every player on top of the leaderboard, but would never have forgotten one the biggest moments in the entire day. de Vincezo’s birdie on 17 was absolutely huge. And why was Aaron “taking care” of de Vicenzo’s scorecard? Master’officials probably assured de Vicenzo that “we’ll take care it.” They took care of him alright. Can you imagine if Ben Crenshaw had had a mistake on his card? He would have been gently taken aside and given a few minutes to correct it, and no one would have been the wiser.


April 14th, 2009
10:34 am

thank you noel habib know one could have said its better,,,,,

All I'm Saying Is...

April 14th, 2009
12:16 pm

Noel Habib and Jay: Get a clue. You show your ignorance of golf or stupidity (if you know the game and still stand by Noel’s post). You may not agree with the rules of golf but they have been that way for over 130 years. Read and learn:

1) In golf, my playing partner keeps my score and I keep his. However, I also keep my own score hole-by-hole and compare it to what my playing partner has giving me the chance to correct his error. I can compare results after each hole and then again at the end of the round. By signing the scorecard at the end of the round, I am agreeing that what my playing partner has tabulated is right. I don’t have to sign unless we agree so I have the ultimate opportunity to correct any error. This method — based on math not a command of English — has nothing whatsoever to do with ethnicity, race, country of origin, politics, etc. Furthermore, Roberto De Vicenzo never once blamed anyone else and received in 1970 the Bob Jones Award from the USGA for his sportsmanship and classy behavior.

2) Gary Player, a South African and therefore a ‘foreigner’, won his first Masters in 1961 well before Roberto’s opportunity so there was no reason for anyone to conspire to prevent a foreigner from winning.

3) Roberto would have qualified for a playoff if not for the scorecard error. Back in those days, a playoff meant 18 holes the next day. So we cannot assume he would have won the playoff.

I guess Furman Bisher does his best but either he or his editors continually let him file stories with incorrect facts which undermine FBs credibility — Perry didn’t ‘tire’ in the playoff: he choked over the last two holes of his 4th round blowing it with bogey’s at 17 (a terrible approach shot to the green from the middle of the fairway followed by one of the worst chip shots ever) and 18 (a tee shot into the fairway bunker followed by a lousy third shot and missing a 15 foot putt to win) and he choked in the playoff, the Green Jacket was not De Vicenzo’s to give to Goalby as they would have had to play 18 the next day, and De Vicenzo is ultimately responsible for his scorecard so any error is on him and is of his doing.

David Gardner

April 14th, 2009
5:41 pm

It was a great tournament. When Cabrera sliced his drive into the woods on the first playoff hole, I thought he was out of it.

Tom Corish

April 15th, 2009
11:48 pm

Thanks, Furman. You write with such ease and brevity. Your description of this classic Masters will be copied and quoted long after we have passed. Keep on keeping on!