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A Week Inside The Ropes
MICHAEL BAMBERGER
April 18, 2005
Working as a caddie, the author has a unique vantage point from which to observe the traditions of Augusta, and to discover the true meaning of the Masters
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April 18, 2005

A Week Inside The Ropes

Working as a caddie, the author has a unique vantage point from which to observe the traditions of Augusta, and to discover the true meaning of the Masters

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Stuart drew two big-time partners for the first two rounds: Tom Watson, with his two green coats, and Jim Furyk. Watson's caddie, Neil (Ox) Oxman, is a fellow Philadelphian and a friend. Furyk's man, Mike (Fluff) Cowan, is a legendary caddie and a relaxed soul whom I've known for 20 years. It was a lucky draw for me too.

Right from the opening handshakes Thursday's mood was different. Furyk was there to win the thing, Watson to see if he could catch lightning and get in the mix, and Stuart to try to make the cut. We started on the back nine. I talked Stuart into a Heavenwood for his second shot at 15, the short par-5 with the little pond in front of the green. With the ball in the air I was praying hard. It landed just short of the green and started rolling down the hill toward the water and stopped only because the grass was soft and wet.

"Roobbish swing," Stuart said. At least, I think that's what he said. There were times when I had no idea what he was saying because of his accent. It wasn't only me. At one point Watson asked Wilson where he was from.

"Ffrrffrr," Stuart said.

"Where?"

"Ffrrffrr," the Scot repeated.

"How do you spell that?"

"F-O-R-F-A-R," Stuart said.

"O.K.," Watson said.

When he had the honor, Watson nearly always went to the other side of the tee box after he played, away from the caddies and the other players. You could see him taking the whole thing in: the perfect grass, the caddies dead quiet and still, the mechanical Augusta National leader boards and their long strings of precise numbers. This is only a guess--does watching a player for parts of three days give a caddie that right?--but Watson seems to want the world at a certain moral attention, everything in its place, and beyond the gates of the club that's becoming ever harder to find. Within the club he expects to find everything just so. On Thursday, when Dow Finsterwald, the 1958 PGA Championship winner who was working the tournament as a glorified marshal, was unable to tell Watson how many groups were waiting to play on the 1st tee, Watson said curtly, "You should know that."

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