Friday, April 6, 2012

Short Bursts: Fred Couples

White Azalea (Conservatory Garden)
I am giddy with excitement.  It is April 6, 2012 and Fred Couples is tied for the lead of the Masters.  One has to love this -- he is (like me) a 1959 baby and there he sits at the top of the leaders board of the Masters.  At 52, in shock (his sentiment, not mine).

Creamy Magnolia
A confession, I started watching golf because of Tiger Woods. I was enamored of the idea of Woods - the idea of Earl's commitment and that grand arrival of Tiger on the scene.  Twenty-one.  Winning the Masters by 12 strokes in 1997.  All of sudden I was becoming familiar with irons, putters, and drivers.  Chipping out of a sand trap, no problem -- Tiger I have you covered from the cheap seats (aka my living room).   I'm rooting for you.  I liked the idea of Tiger winning --- just like I liked the idea of Serena and Venus Williams.  Here were kids who came roaring out of nowhere (some may dispute that but I think it is true) and they were winning.   And winning in a big way.  I liked that.

I don't think I'm the ONLY reason Tiger has big endorsement deals but I think I'm a part of that.  I do not play golf.  I do not buy Nike clubs, shoes, or balls.  I can, however, be found watching a tournament on many a Saturday and Sunday if Tiger is in  contention.  Quietly, here in NYC, watching those commercials for AmEx and Mercedes and all sorts of other things that I might not need at this point in time but that I might buy at some future date.  A member of a market that golf had otherwise not tapped.  It was actually palpable in Tiger's glory days how the camera would follow him even if he was out of contention.  If he was in contention, the announcers would joke about how they were spending so much camera time on him.  In fact, sometimes, they would watch him between shots taking practice swings instead of showing other golfers who were actually swinging for the win.

Pink Magnolia
I have no opinion on Tiger's infidelity -- his addictions as it were.  I am sad for  the impact they had on him, his family, his kids and wish, that for their sake, that they could have played out in private.  But that is not the fate of such a public figure.  Like most of us, he is flawed and because of his good fortune to be a genius at golf, his flaws were doomed to be writ large on a  bigger public stage than yours and mine would be.  That is just the way the world is.

I happened upon Fred while in the grips of a fascination with Tiger.  It was long after his 1992 Masters win.  His shirt was too big (looks like it still is) and he was constantly hitching up the shoulder.  He was not a golfer like Tiger at that point -- older, wiser, burdened by a tricky lower back, nurturing a girl friend through breast cancer.  I liked him -- a lot.  I added him to my list of ones to watch.  Nurtured a crush -- just as my friend Lisa G nurtured a crush on the shark -- Greg Norman.  We loved them at Augusta -- loved the way they would handle Amen Corner, stride across Hogan Bridge to the green on the twelfth.  Seasoned veterans pitted against callow youth in those days of Tiger's dominance.
More White Azalea

Today, much to my delight, there was Fred at the top of the leader board with (I think) the low score of the day.  I have yet to see him play in the Masters this year -- not sure that I really need to.  He is Fred Couples, back in the mix at the age of 52 and that is very cool.  He still has that twinkle in his eye and, even if he doesn't' win, it's amazing that he led this most storied of tournaments even if only for one day.

Tomorrow, just so you all know, I'll be rooting for Fred with his cool charm and ailing lower back.  Rooting for him to best the field and win the green jacket and that all important interview in Butler Cabin at Augusta National.  There is always next year for Tiger to come roaring back here and I'll root for him then.

Tonight, my heart belongs to Fred and my hat is off to him as well.  52 and atop the leader board at the Masters.   Just 36 more holes Fred and that green jacket is yours.  Win it for you.  Win it for us.

Purple Memories

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