Augusta – I walked the front nine with Tiger Woods, and not just because he was my No. 1 pick in the AJC Masters draft. About which, I probably should explain.
The AJC Masters draft is a tradition like no other. The late and much-missed Tom McCollister instituted it at the communal AJC rental house, wherever said house happened to be that year. Esteemed colleague Steve Hummer now serves as the torchbearer and draft poohbah, and he takes this responsibility very seriously.
(Mr. Hummer also cooks, and well. He prepared the steak and potatoes for our crew Wednesday. It’s the best meal I’ve ever had in Augusta, Ga.)
But enough about food. I drew the No. 5 position from the slips in Mr. Hummer’s NBC Sports cap. (The hat is multi-purpose: Mr. Hummer is wearing it as we speak. He’s two seats down, typing away on Mr. Ken Sugiura’s computers, Mr. Hummer’s first two computers — that’s correct; I said first two — having gone ka-blooey in the press room.)
The first four picks in the AJC draft: Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood, Matt Kuchar, Martin Kaymer. And then it was my turn, and I thought, “Can I really not pick Tiger Woods at No. 5?”
My answer: No. It would, I thought, be like not picking Kobe as one of your starting guards. And I’m reasonably certain that Tiger hasn’t gone any lower than second in any AJC draft since he first won the Masters in 1997.
So I followed my man for nine holes this morning and into the afternoon, and I wasn’t overwhelmed with my chances of winning this contest, either. He missed a lot of putts. He hit some bad shots. He was 1-under at the turn, and it was a 1-under that could have been 3-under or 3-over. But the day is young, even if I’m not.
More later on Tiger, who had, I should report, a coughing spell on the No. 9 green. Just my luck, I thought: Tiger Woods falls to me in the AJC Masters draft, and he’ll wind up being mastered by pollen.
By Mark Bradley