Or take Ernie Els (third in the world). He started four back, and Tiger never let him get much closer than that. Tired of waiting for Tiger to make a mistake, Els decided to make his own, playing the famous par-5 13th with an oar and flippers to wind up with an 8. Or take Sergio Garcia (fifth in the world). He's supposed to step up one of these days to challenge Tiger, but instead he stepped back, with a wimpy 75. Or take Vijay Singh (seventh in the world). Trailing by four with four to play, he rinsed two thirds of a sleeve into the pond in front of the par-5 15th—two out-and-out 18-handicap chunks, by the way—on his way to a 9, to put his hopes in a slingh.
"I don't care what any of these guys say about not looking at him or not noticing what he's doing," mused Tiger's father, Earl, afterward outside the Butler Cabin. "Tiger intimidates through osmosis. You feel it. It freaks people out."
The whole week kind of did that. Sam Snead hit the ceremonial first drive of the tournament straight into the spectacles of a spectator. And yet CBS announcer Jim Nantz didn't mention a word about it in recapping the shot on Saturday. Then again, being a Masters announcer on CBS is like writing for the Baghdad Bugle. One negative word, and you're hanging upside down by your toenails.
Nor was there a single word from CBS about the week's odor, which had the unmistakable aroma of Eau d' Oink. It smelled like Grade C manure, though an Augusta National spokesman insisted the rain had simply dredged up naturally decaying grass. Riiiiiight. So why was it that Nick Faldo turned to Davis Love III as they played on Sunday and said, "Somebody brought their pet cow"?
And the mud. There was mud everywhere. Mud on the balls and mud on the IMG agents' $600 Italian loafers and mud on the steep hills, which made for great fun watching proper Southern belles in print dresses go sliding rump-down through the muck and slime and then get up, laughing liltingly and twittering, "Well, ahh nevah!"
Then there was the mudslinging from an Augusta National member himself: Lloyd Ward, a USOC executive. Ward, who happens to be black, told USA Today it was high time the Old Coots Club took in some female members. The club had no official comment, but the mind spun at what changes that might bring.
Now, for the traditional winner's interview, we take you to the Oprah Cabin.
Then there was the bit of untidiness caused by The Letter. Former champs Doug Ford (1957), Gay Brewer (1967) and Billy Casper (1970) each received a chilling missive from Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson, which read, "Your record is not indicative of active participation." (Translation: Your lifetime invitation just expired.) You think Tiger is cold? All it lacked was, "P.S.: We've included some hemlock for your personal use."
Why they didn't simply call them or nudge them at the Tuesday night champions dinner, nobody knows. It hurt so bad that Brewer boycotted the dinner in protest.
So when no less than Arnold Palmer shot 89 the first day, it became clear that his Masters moments were finished. "Tomorrow will be my last day," he said last Thursday. "I don't want to get a letter."