APRIL 9, 2012
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA | On a dark Sunday
night in April 1981, I got my first glimpse of
Augusta National from the back seat of a
van transporting British golf writers from
Augusta airport to the houses we had been
billeted in by the tournament organisers. In
those days, Hord Hardin was chairman of
Augusta National and Seve Ballesteros, 23,
was the defending champion as well as the
youngest champion after his four-stroke
victory the year before.
Dark and brooding, gifted and temperamental, Ballesteros seemed ill at ease
that week, sensing plots against him were
being hatched behind every pine tree. With
rounds of 78 and 76 he comfortably missed
the cut. He won $1,500 and appeared happy
to be out of the place.
Your correspondent, meanwhile, was
having the time of his life. He had his hair
cut in the barber shop near where the pro
shop is now, was driving a car while staying
in a house provided by the club and eating
breakfast and sometimes dinner cooked for
him. He would file his story to London by
dictating it in the middle of the night over a
crackly phone line from Augusta via an operator in Savannah to his office in London.
The story had been written in the then
press room, the Quonset hut where journalists were penned, to the right of the first
fairway. We sat in rows with a television
set perched precariously on a shelf above
our heads pecking away at our portable
typewriters or the sturdy Royals, Remingtons or Underwoods that Augusta National
supplied if we hadn’t brought our own.
“Be an ignominious death to be killed
by a falling television at Augusta National,”
one colleague remarked.
In the past 35 years, U.S. players hold an
18-17 edge over Internationals at Augusta.
YEAR WINNER COUNTRY
2012 Bubba Watson U.S.
2011 Charl Schwartzel S. Africa
2010 Phil Mickelson U.S.
2009 Ángel Cabrera Argentina
2008 Trevor Immelman S. Africa
2007 Zach Johnson U.S.
2006 Phil Mickelson U.S.
2005 Tiger Woods U.S.
2004 Phil Mickelson U.S.
2003 Mike Weir Canada
2002 Tiger Woods U.S.
2001 Tiger Woods U.S.
2000 Vijay Singh Fiji
1999 José María Olazábal Spain
1998 Mark O’Meara U.S.
1997 Tiger Woods U.S.
1996 Nick Faldo England
1995 Ben Crenshaw U.S.
1994 José María Olazábal Spain
1993 Bernhard Langer Germany
1992 Fred Couples U.S.
1991 Ian Woosnam Wales
1990 Nick Faldo England
1989 Nick Faldo England
1988 Sandy Lyle Scotland
1987 Larry Mize U.S.
1986 Jack Nicklaus U.S.
1985 Bernhard Langer W. Germany
1984 Ben Crenshaw U.S.
1983 Seve Ballesteros Spain
1982 Craig Stadler U.S.
1981 Tom Watson U.S.
1980 Seve Ballesteros Spain
1979 Fuzzy Zoeller U.S.
1978 Gary Player S. Africa
deservedly proud. And, for that matter, so
was your correspondent. He was attending his 31st Masters, which meant he had
spent 31 weeks in this glorious part of
Georgia and he looked forward to spending
many more. l