Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Masters' Past, Present Meet at the Tree

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Masters' Past, Present Meet at the Tree

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Woods, Times-Union sports columnist

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- I am standing on the hill behind the clubhouse, feeling the gentle breeze on my face, listening to the murmur of conversation, watching Arnold Palmer and David Duval walk down a fairway that looks like a coffee table book come to life.

And I am thinking about one of the classic stupid Super Bowl media day questions.

If you were a tree . . .

I'm not sure I ever really contemplated this before. And I suppose it depends how you analyze the question. Are you asking what tree you would be most like, or what tree you would like to be?

If it's the latter, I would have to consider being a Douglas fir on the rim of the Grand Canyon or a swaying palm tree on a beach in Kauai. But it would be tough to top this, the four-story tall quercus virginia -- a live oak -- that sits atop the highest hill on the Augusta National grounds, its twisting branches providing a canopy that stretches 40 yards, nearly from the clubhouse to the first tee.

They have changed the course.

They have not changed The Tree.

They never do. Other than some trimming or the addition of another cable to help keep a limb off the ground, the tree remains the same. Doug Ford, standing beneath it yesterday, looked up and said: "It was here when I won 50 years ago. It was the gathering spot then. And it is now. You say to people, 'Meet me at the tree.' "

And nobody ever says, "Which tree?"

Augusta National is covered with beautiful trees, starting with the 61 magnolias that line the famous entrance road. But when you say The Tree, there is no doubt which one you're talking about.

It was planted before the Civil War, which means that Sherman came through and said, "Leave that one or I'll never get a membership. …

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